What is freediving? Exploring the depths

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Post by Ina

July 24, 2023

Diving is a world of its own. There are many modalities that can be practiced, including different environments where it takes place (open sea, lakes, cold regions…). Moreover, there is a wide variety of advanced courses that offer specialization to expert divers, such as nitrox diving, perfect buoyancy, navigation, rescue… And all of these can be completed with DPM Diving at our 5 locations around the world. Today, however, we’ll talk about freediving, an advanced practice that we’ll tell you all about below.

What is Freediving?

Also known as breath-hold diving or free diving, freediving is a practice that involves submerging without the use of a scuba tank, maximizing the time spent below the surface and the depth reached. It is a discipline that requires special training, where the diver must have control over their movements to minimize energy and oxygen consumption. With freediving, you achieve a more direct connection with the underwater world, connecting with the surrounding nature and feeling a part of the ocean.

Basic Equipment for Freediving

The equipment needed for practicing freediving is minimal. You only need fins, a weight belt, diving goggles, a wetsuit, and optionally some electronic control equipment such as watches, cameras, etc. Remember that in freediving, the diver does not submerge with oxygen equipment.

Freediving Techniques

According to the International Association for the Development of Freediving (AIDA), there are up to six recognized modalities within the discipline:

  • Constant Weight Freediving: The diver descends using only arm and leg movements (without fins) and cannot hold onto the guide rope. Both descent and ascent are done without any additional weight.
  • Dynamic Freediving: The movement in this modality is horizontal and is often carried out in pools or shallow beaches. The objective is to cover the maximum distance underwater.
  • Static Freediving: The goal here is to stay submerged for the longest possible time without making any movements and carefully controlling breathing.
  • Free Immersion Freediving: With the help of a guide rope, the diver descends and ascends to reach the maximum depth possible. It is often used for training purposes.
  • Variable Weight Freediving: During the descent, a weight is used, which is then released once the maximum depth is reached, so the diver must ascend using only the guide rope.
  • No Limits Freediving: In this modality, the diver can ascend or descend as desired, using methods like a sled or balloon.

Tips Before Freediving

As one can imagine, freediving requires certain prerequisites or recommendations before practicing, as there are several risks involved. Firstly, it is important to have guidance from experienced divers in this practice who can help you with preparatory exercises. You should also be familiar with distress signals to alert about any problems. Similarly, you must know your own limits, avoiding risky decisions, going to depths for which you are not prepared, or staying submerged for too long. It is also advisable to check that your equipment is in perfect condition and to assess possible currents or the underwater visibility.

Risks of Freediving

An untrained or inexperienced freediver may be at risk of experiencing fainting, decompression sickness, injuries to the ears and nasal passages, or drowning. Spending too much time underwater increases the chances of experiencing decompression sickness. Additionally, during the ascent, there is a risk of hypoxia, as the pressure decreases rapidly, which can lead to loss of consciousness.

Freediving Records

Freediving is becoming increasingly popular among professionals who practice for extended periods to perfect their style and control, with the aim of increasing their time underwater or the depth reached. One of the most renowned freedivers in the world is Frenchman Stephane Mifsud, who holds the record for static apnea with 11 minutes and 35 seconds. In the free immersion modality, Russian diver Alexey Molchanov reached 125 meters, while Tunisian diver Walid Boudhiaf reached 150 meters in variable weight freediving.


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