What is Freediving
The definition of freediving emcompasses all waterbased breath-holding activities. The first widely agreed upon description was: Diving free of all breathing apparatus apart from a snorkel. So freediving includes activities like snorkelling, spearfishing, underwater hockey and rugby and even big wave surfing has an element of freediving, where they depend upon longer breath-holds to get them through hold downs and when they get caught in the breaking zone where they have to dive below a line of breakers.
How to Start Freediving
People enter into the sport/hobby/lifestyle of freediving in many ways. Many children begin their freediving with snorkelling sets in a swimming pool. The opportunity to snorkel on the Great Barrier Reef or even the rocks in a local area has often led a person to take up this sport. It's the discovery of another world where the freediver can explore, almost like flying, a world that is so different and interesting compared to the above surface world.
There are many aspects to freediving. One is freediving when they use a mask and snorkel in a swimming pool. One is freediving when playing underwater hockey or underwater rugby. Likewise one is freediving when spearfishing or taking underwater photos on breathhold diving, or just exploring any underwater terrain on breathhold.
Freediving also has its own stand alone sport. In this sport the focus is on the depth of the dive or in the swimming pool events, the distance of the pool swum underwater, and the duration of a breathhold. For most the step from snorkelling or the other freediving applications to the sport of freediving is not a big step. Many look for courses or training that assists their breathhold and these are found in the realms of the sport of freediving. Freediving training is a great cross training activity for the other activities like spearfishing, underwater photography, and even big wave surfing. In the case of big wave surfing the freediving training is ideal to prepare the surfer for wave hold downs, or to swim under multiple waves when caught in the wave breaking zone.
When you are doing a water activity that requires a longer breath, the training for this is in the realms of freediving. Once you have the ability to swim and water confidence, the first step into freediving should be a freediving course. Its best to learn this sport from certified instructors.
What gear do you need to start Freediving?
A mask, a snorkel and a pair of fins are the bare essentials for taking up freediving. This is enough to get a great experience diving in the ocean, especially in warm tropical water. Read more about Freediving Gear here.
What are the freediving courses?
Similar to the scuba diving system of courses, there is a series of courses that level by level increase the freedivers knowledge and abilities. These courses involve theory and practical and have swimming pool and ocean components. After the theory the diver is invited to drill the requirements and then demonstrate their skills to the instructor to get a final pass on that level. A vital part of these courses is the safety components. Safety procedures are learnt and drilled until divers can perform them easily.
Do all freedivers have to do freediving courses?
There is no requirement by law that freedivers are required to do freediving courses, however it behooves a diver to get all the knowledge available.. The system is a proven and safe way for new freedivers to advance in the sport. More experienced divers can often fill in gaps in their knowledge that can increase their abilities. Most freediving boat charters require customers to be certified freedivers.
Are there age or health restrictions related to completing a freediving course?
There are safety restrictions related to doing freediving courses that cover age and health conditions. Each freediving course provider will be able to give you a list of these. They may vary a little between providers.
When is the best time to do a freediving course?
It is best to do a freediving course as early as you can when taking up this sport. You will need certain water skills to be able to complete the practical requirements for each level. The freediving course providers will let you know what these are. The point here is to learn the correct and safe approach to the sport rather than have to correct bad practices later. The freediving course levels give a gradient approach, each level working on the skills attained in the earlier course.
There are quite a few providers. How does one go about choosing?
All though there are many providers, the basic knowledge given is much the same. Each provider will have their way of delivering this knowledge. It is up to the freediver to make a choice based on reviews, recommendations and price. Because the data is consistent course to course, it is important you pick an instructor who can relate the knowledge to your interests. For example, a spearfisher should look for an instructor who is an expert spearfisher and can fully relate the knowledge and skills to spearfishing. Likewise a freediver wanting to do competition diving should make sure his instructor has a good knowledge of competition skills.
Clubs and Training
As in all sports, regular training is vital to increase diver abilities. Even a recreational freediver will improve his diving experience through regular training. Training will increase depth and the time spent underwater on each breath, but for the recreational diver, the goal may be comfort. Whatever the goals, regular training will enable the diver to achieve them and will ensure the diver advances.
Some people like to run, ride push bikes, do aerobics and many other activities to keep fit. This is usually done during the week after work hours. A freediver can train in swimming pools in the evenings working both technique and breath-holding skills. Training in swimming pools is vital if a person does not have access to the ocean often during the week.
Are there freediving clubs in Australia?
There are 4 fully set up freediving clubs in Australia, Brisbane Freedivers, Sydney Freedivers, Melbourne Freedivers and South Australia Freedivers. There are forming clubs in the Gold Coast and Perth. They are all volunteer run non-profit sporting clubs, affiliated with AIDA through the national body Australian Freediving Association (AFA).
How do I join a freediving club?
Most freediving clubs in Australia have a strong presence as a groups on Facebook, just search for Freediving in your city.
If you are looking for an advanced Freediving squad in Brisbane, check out Brisbane Bullsharks.
It is standard procedure for all new members to attend a safety induction. At this induction the freediver will drill diver rescue procedures to bring their level of safety up to the club level.
All members of these clubs must be financial members of the Australian Freediving Association. The Australian Freediving Association has taken out an insurance policy that covers the require public liability insurance that swimming pools require. This enables the AFA clubs and groups to train, even in pools that otherwise have restrictions on breath holding activities.