Getting Started: Freediving
A Beginner’s Guide On
What’s It Like To Freedive
Photography Francisco Guerrero
Last year, the Philippines self-appointed itself as the “freediving capital of Asia”. For the curious and the unfamiliar, here’s what it’s like to dive on the strength of a single breath.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty, a word to the wise: Freediving is not meant to be learned without proper guidance. Take the proper course and NEVER DIVE ALONE.
While freediving’s recent surge in popularity has helped dispel the intimidation surrounding it, the sport is still often associated with risk-takers and extreme adventurers. Fact is, the basic premise is simple: to freedive is to explore depths underwater on the strength and efficiency of a single breath, unencumbered by equipment (the technical term would be apnea). And while competitions measure how long one can hold that breath, or how far and how deep, the most basic prerequisite in getting started is that you, at the very least, know how to swim and feel comfortable in the water. Carlo Navarro, the country’s first Filipino AIDA instructor, likens it to meditation; as much an exercise of the mind as of the body. What free diving lacks in gear it more than makes up for in the rigorous training required to gain control over the body’s basic urge: to breathe. But learning how to freedive isn’t as simple as plunging straight into the water. Much like scuba diving, certification agencies like AIDA International and SSI exist to educate, measure a diver’s skill level, and—above all—ensure safety parameters. Taking a proper introduction course is the best—and safest—way to find out if freediving is the sport for you.
PREPARING FOR A CLASS:
1) Try not to drink coffee
2) Eat two hours before—but don’t be too full
3) Check with your doctor!
Drinking coffee has a tendency to raise your heart rate (which will in turn use up more oxygen underwater), while feeling full might affect your ability to perform breath holds. Plus, indigestion underwater does not a fun time make. As with any sport, consult with your doctor and make sure he/she clears you for any prior medical conditions.
Snorkeling is a great entry point into freediving. Try practicing with fins in addition to the snorkels to get a better feel for them when you dive. As an activity, freediving also has a lot to do with quieting the mind and losing any semblance of time. Yoga and meditation will not only limber you up and help your breathing, it’ll also help with controlling your thoughts and keeping yourself relaxed.
A FEW THING TO KEEP IN MIND:
1) Dive within your limits
2) Stop when there is pain
3) Always dive with a buddy
If you’re interested in learning how to freedive, check out
ManuMano Freedive Training Center.