Why you should and shouldn't do Freediving?
So, today I just finish my freediving course with one of the freediving world champion in Bali. I know about freediving things a while ago. Back then, my boyfriend joined one of freediving community in Jambi. When he came back to Jakarta, he told me about this new kind of diving. I was already doing scuba diving at that time and had no interest to try freediving. Why should I? You got the privilege of one hour diving with equipment, why do you have to hassle to hold your breath?
So years passed, I start to see the growing trend of freediving. Some of my friends have their self-training in freediving community. Recently, I’m interested to learn freediving as a stress management, however I know learning freediving on our own is not wise from safety perspective. I don’t say it is wrong to try to learn freediving by googling things up or peers-knowledge sharing. However, as it is one of extreme sports which expand your capability to breath, I advise you to get your training properly in Freediving School, unless your friend who train you is certified from AIDA (International Freediving Organization) .
Today I learn: After all this time I did snorkeling, I did some silly mistakes which can take my life! So, I’m giving you some tips before even trying to dive beyond 2 meters in ocean:
Freediving is not a cheaper alternative of Scuba diving!
Most of my friends joined freediving as they think scuba diving is much more expensive to get license. They think Freediving only cost snorkeling sets which is way cheaper than Open-Water License, and in addition, in freediving you don’t have to pay for every dive in the future. However, in my opinion, the goal is very much different between these two things. Freediving is more like sports, you are there to control your breath, to switch your state of mind from stressful condition into relax mind. it’s pretty much like running, you watch out your breath and every muscle to get another extra mile. Meanwhile, Scuba diving is more to recreational purpose. You are there to see things. You got around 1 hour to wander around, take some pictures, or even enjoying the current.
2. “Never hold your breath” doesn’t apply in Freediving.
When I took my scuba diving license, I was told the golden rule of scuba diving, which is: “Never, ever, hold your breath!”. In scuba diving, when you are holding your breath, you may get nitrogen toxification or -worse, lungs expansions (in other word: your lungs will explode and you may get paralyzed for the whole of your life). But in Freediving, you don’t get extra air under the water, your air volume in your lungs stick the same as you are on the surface. Hence, in Freediving, never exhale while diving, hold your breath, it is the only source of oxygen.
3. Weight belt is not the Faster Way to dive in!
This one could be fatal. I once try to put on some weight without wearing any wet suits. Friends told me, it can fasten your speed to dive in and save your oxygen. What happen? I drown. My friend was true; I was speeding up to the bottom of the ocean! It took a lot of effort to reach the surface, the weight drag me down. Imagine, when your oxygen level is really low (which you may not realize) and you have to carry those weights. It’s only a matter of time before you black out and died. So, the function of weight is to balance the effect of wet suits you wear. It give you back your neutral buoyance so that you won’t be floating on the surface (if you don’t know, without wet suits our buoyance is neutral; with wet suits it will be like you wear life-jackets and try to dive in!).
4. Never Freediving Alone.
Never dive alone, never freediving alone. Use buddy system. Why? Here is the danger you may not know about freediving: Black out. It can be happening to those who are trying to hold their breath until their oxygen level is really really low. The ugly truth, without proper training you won’t be able to know when to end your dive. You may hit a very low oxygen level when you reach the surface, you blow out your breath (since it’s reflex when CO2 build up more than O2), there unconsciously you spend your last oxygen and… you black out. Without buddy or even buoy, who’s gonna catch you when you passed out? No one! And water will fill in your mouth and lungs, yap, you know what happen next. So, “Never dive alone” it’s not just a kewl jargon to bluff, but it’s a big warning for everyone who play with “Oxygen Level” in the body. My instructor said, you need to take 20 seconds looks on your buddy, after your buddy ascending to the surface, to ensure that he is not hypoxic and passed out after saying ‘I’m Okay’.
5. Freediving is not about how deep and how far (unless you are an athlete!)
One learning point I got from the course was Freediving is about discovering your ability to manage your state of mind. So Yoram (My Instructor) told me many times when I can’t equalize that I’m not relax. When you can’t equalize, you will get pain in your ears while dive in. On last couple Freedives, I don’t do duck diving (facing the bottom) and I change my position (facing the surface) since my equalization is failing. It’s way much better for equalizing but I go shallower than my previous dive. Why? I only use my hands on the rope to push me deeper, it took more effort than duck in (I can use fins). However, the most important thing, I become aware of my body tiny signals. Every tension on my muscles will consume more oxygen, so I ensure my positions is correct and relax. When I start to stress out due to equalization, I just try to close my eyes, relax, and I can go deeper more comfortably. I discover when I have the urge to breath for the first time, I actually still have plenty oxygen in my body, so I should relax and manage my deep to the surface. It’s pretty complicated, but hell, it’s really awesome when you discover your ability to switch your state of mind. “Relax is the key of freediving.” - said Yoram.
In conclusion, I really advise those who loves snorkeling and freediving to take a proper course. By doing that, you may save your life or even your friends. Freediving is look as a cool sport for some people, but really, it’s not about being competitive and show off (Unless you are an athlete). Yoram said Freediving practice has the same effect as soccer player who train in high altitude. It trained you to optimized your breathing capability, and to maintain your state of mind. Freediving is a way of life. It is also my reason to learn this sport at the very first time. Freediving is my way to enter the “flow”, and it is true. For me, it can be a stress management, and it can be done in swimming pool!
So, think twice before doing freediving!
NB: Yoram is Freediving World Vice Champion who has been teaching Freediving for more than 20 years around the world. He has open Freediving School in Amed, Bali. You may check his freediving course on oceanprana.com