Freediving has been practiced for hundreds of years; it’s believed it originated in Greece where it was used to allow divers to dive to around 20-30 metres in the search of sea sponges. No small feat without a mask! It has progressed a bit since then with depths of over 170 metres achieved by Freedivers in the discipline of No-Limits.
So what actually is Freediving? Well a simple definition is anyone who dives under the water from 2 metres onwards and holds their breath. Anyone who is happy holding their breath underwater is a Freediver.
Freediving is about finding your limits and then exceeding them. The simple form of bettering yourself is either staying down for a longer period of time, or exceeding your previous depth metre by metre.
Spear fishing one of the main sports associated with Freediving, it’s the most sustainable form of fishing due its selective nature. With spear fishing the only fish that are targeted are those that are the correct species and are large enough to eat.
This is unlike any other fishing method such as net fishing, which are not as selective.
There are a few governing bodies for Freediving but the largest is AIDA which has members all over the world. The British Freediving Association which is the largest Freediving association in the UK is part of AIDA.
Constant Weight – Constant weight is essentially Freediving using weight to control your buoyancy, this can be done with or without fins. This is the most common form of Freediving.
Static Apnea – This is essentially a breath hold exercise. You lie face down in a pool and see how long you can stay there; this is a pure mind game.
Dynamic Apnea – Dynamic Apnea is a competition discipline, its how much distance you can travel horizontally in one breathe, normally in swimming pools. This can be done with or without fins.
Free Immersion – This discipline is pulling yourself up and down a line without fins. This is a great discipline for beginners as it allows them to accurately time their equalisations.
Variable Weight – This is descending with a weight or sled. This is for the more hardcore breed of Freedivers and allows you to reach serious depth. This sport requires a full support crew to ensure nothing goes wrong.
No Limits – This is the most extreme form of Freediving, essentially you descend on a weighted sled and ascend using an air filled bag. This discipline is the one most people know of as it grabs headlines however isn’t considered the purest form of Freediving.
Freedive Mask – There are some things to be considered when buying a mask for Freediving. A Freedive mask should be lower volume than a scuba mask making it easier to equalise. Lenses should be clear to allow your buddy to easily see your eyes and the nose section must be loose enough to easily allow you to equalise.
It is always advisable to carry an extra mask when Freediving to any depth over 10m to ensure you can swap if a mask breaks. Click here for a full range of Freediving Masks
Fins – Freediving fins are significantly longer than Scuba fins which gives you much more power than with a scuba fin, however does limit your ability to turn easily. The reason for the extra length is to produce the most efficient kick to conserve your energy levels whilst moving as quickly as possible. Click here for a full range of Freediving Fins
Wetsuits – Like with the specific mask and fins Freediving wetsuits are specific also. They should be as close to perfect fit as possible. Usually a combination of long johns with a separate jacket with no zips to minimise flushing. The neoprene used is generally open cell which provides maximum warmth and mobility. The downside to this type of material is that it’s very fragile. Click here for a full range of Freediving Wetsuits
Weight Belts – Weight belts should be made of rubber to be flexible which helps with breathing and compression at any depth. The belt should be quick release. Click here for a full range of Freediving Weight Belts
Snorkel – Snorkels for Freediving are generally of a simple tube design normally left at the surface to reduce drag. Click here for a full range of Freediving Snorkels
Accessories - There are a number of accessories which can be used for Freediving but they are not necessarily required.
Float with line – In open water and without a boat this is a vital bit of kit as it enables other water users to know where you are at any time. It also acts as a good place to rest between divers as you can hang onto your float for extra buoyancy.
Dive computer – There are a few different computers for Freediving available, or Scuba dive computers which Freedive functionality. A great feature that these have is the ability to set off an alarm at a specific depth. These also keep a log of what you have previously done.
Knife / Line Cutter – You never know when you are going to get into trouble, especially in open water. So carrying a knife is recommended to reduce the dangers from fishing lines which are often unseen.
Whistle – A recommended accessory as it allows you to contact your buddy when you’re in the water.