We talk to complete strangers all the time who are either enamored or appalled at the notion of freediving. They either think it is the coolest thing in the world or, well, that we are idiots. I think there is a bit of truth in both assumptions, but I digress. After we describe the sport a bit and ensure them that it really can be safe people usually realize there is a bit more to the sport than just taking a breath and kicking down until your ears feel like they’re going to explode. There is more to the sport than just sinking as deep as you can with tons of weight strapped to your waist and waiting until you “feel” like you are running out of breath to return to the surface half dead and gasping for air. Below are four things you can learn in a freediving course that may demystify the sport for you.
1. Safety: This may sound like the most uninteresting part of a freediving course but the sport is potentially deadly. The physics and physiology associated with freediving are complex and worth understanding before risking your life engaging in an activity where you may not fully comprehend the nature of the beast. Equipped with just a little bit of information regarding proper safety while freedving students go from being a ticking time bomb to safely enjoying a lifetime of breathold diving. Here’s a safety lesson spoiler…NEVER DIVE ALONE!
2. Breathing Techniques: In our freediving courses I always describe this section of the lecture as the meat and potatoes of the course. When I took a course for the first time back in 2008 with PFI I remember being blown away watching our instructor, Matt Charlton, take the biggest breath I had ever seen in my life. A simple peak inhalation that blew my pathetic little shallow chest breath out of the water. In our course you will learn to fill your proverbial fuel tank (your lungs) all the way up using all of your respiratory muscles, not just the ones you are used to engaging day to day. Who knows, by learning to breathe properly and more deeply you may even find that your daily headaches come less frequently, feel more energized, and can replace that bottle of Zoloft with a bottle of Spirulina (excellent freediver food)!
3. Physiology: If knowledge is power than understanding exactly what is going on in your body while holding your breath is exactly what you need to dive down deeper and stay under water longer. By diving (excuse the pun) into the physiology of blackouts, describing a day in the life of a red blood cell or just introducing the basic human anatomy and how it relates to freediving gives you the power you need in the form of information to become a more relaxed freediver. Once you begin to understand the sensations you are feeling while freediving, and why you are feeling them, the unknown variables are solved for, leaving you more in control of your dive and the decisions you make while diving.
4. Psychology: If I had to break a freediving course into arbitrary percentages I would say that the sport is at least 90% mental and 10% physical. We spend all four days of the Intermediate freediving course preparing divers for the physical aspects of the sport. We describe and introduce students to the sensations of increasing pressure, teach people to equalize and even put students through some physically challenging safety practice situations. These facets are critical to freediving but the real crux of the sport comes with mental maturity and management. In our courses we’ll talk about the things that happen to your mind during a dive or intense breathold that keep you from realizing your maximum potential. Most of the time we find that students who fail to hit 100 feet during the Intermediate level course either have equalizing issues or…dun…dun…dun…some kind of mental hold up. It’s not their physical limitations that are holding them back. A freediving course will help relieve the discomfort of being trapped in your own mind. Unlocking this potential, exercising control over your body AND mind is the liberating part of the sport. It’s the part of the sport that will change your life.
Sign up for our next course and learn to dive safer, deeper, stay longer and ultimately learn something about yourself you never knew you possessed. Hope to see you in the water!