WHAT IS FREEDIVING?
Are you still unsure what freediving is?
You may have seen some cool pictures online of divers in sleek wetsuits without scuba tanks and wondered to yourself “What is THAT all about!?” You may have a vague sense that freediving is a kind of deep mental and physical challenge, a practice, like yoga or Tai Chi, or you may simply consider it a fun way to explore the coral reefs you visit on your worldwide travels. This article will help you understand the wonderful world of freediving…
Freediving is simply any underwater activity done on a single breath of air. Rather than use tanks of compressed air to visit the world beneath the waves, we use the air we can inhale into our lungs.
Anyone can learn freediving – humans are very good at it! The world record for deep diving, without any equipment such as freediving fins, is more than 100m! That is more than the height of the Statue of Liberty!
Freediving is about relaxation and control. We need to relax both our physical bodies and our busy minds. More relaxation means less oxygen consumption and more comfortable and enjoyable dives.
In a freediving course you will study how to relax deeply, let go of intrustive thoughts, and manage the sensations of the urge to breathe. With a little expert training you can easily hold your breath for several minutes, and dive 20 metres deep on your first course!
For a detailed look at the schedule of the Freedive Taiwan Level One course see the article The Freedive Taiwan Level One Course in Detail (coming soon).
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Donny is the founder of Taiwan’s first English language freediving centre, Freedive Taiwan, and host of the
Freedive Cafe Podcast.
He has lived in Taiwan for 8 years, much of that time on Xiao Liuqiu Island.
A freediver enjoys the reef, exploring and observing sea turtles here on Xiao Liuqiu island, Taiwan.
FREEDIVING COURSES AT FREEDIVE TAIWAN
Visit the SCHEDULE page to find out when the next course is running.
DIFFERENT KINDS OF FREEDIVING / REASONS FOR FREEDIVING:
We can dive deep into the ocean (Depth), we can swim underwater for distance, horizontally in a swimming pool (Dynamic), or simply lying face down in the water, motionless, holding our breath (Static). In a good freediving course you will practice all these forms of diving.
How we perform the depth and dynamic dives also varies, with different ‘disciplines’. We can pull down a dive line with our arms only (FIM: Free Immersion), we can swim down using bifins or a monofin (CWT: Constant Weight) and we can swim down and back up using only the power of our arms and legs (CNF: No Fins).
Freediving has many different forms and applications:
FREEDIVING AS SPORT:
Freediving is a sport unlike any other in the world. In freediving competitions, athletes compete with each other to dive the deepest, farthest or longest.
However, competitive freediving is less often seen as a competition against others and more as a personal challenge within oneself.
Especially in deep freediving, we train our bodies and minds to achieve depths we previously thought impossible. Do not think that deep competition freedivers are daredevils or crazy people. Freediving is an incredibly safe sport when the divers are properly trained in safety.
Freediving is about control, and balance and self-awareness.
FREEDIVING FOR HEALTH AND PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT:
The pursuit of new depths in freediving requires us to have a well-balanced fitness and strength in the body, a stable and resilient nervous system and a mind characterised by mindfulness and equanimity.
Developing these qualities not only makes a better freediver, but the benefits feed into all aspects of the diver’s life.
For this reason, it is common for freedivers to practice yoga, meditation, movement and a wide variety of training methods, to watch carefully their diet and alcohol intake and get adequate sleep, rest and recovery, to aid them in becoming better, deeper divers.
Freediving becomes a lifestyle. We recognise that the ocean is healing and transformative and often start to design our lives around our time in the water.
A diver training in the ‘sport discipline’ of FIM (Free Immersion, diving using only pulls with the arms)
FUNDIVING AND EXPLORATION:
Your freediving skills can be used to explore coastlines, coral reefs, shipwrecks, underwater caves and much more. As a quiet and graceful visitor in the ocean you can more easily interact with the creatures that call the sea their home.
Without the noisy bubbles of scuba tanks you will find that fish and large sea creatures are more curious about you and may approach you and interact with you.
Sometimes the most fun is to be had just playing around in the water with some good friends.
Don’t forget to leave your camera at home sometimes so you can be fully present and truly mindful of the place you are in and how beautiful it is!
FREEDIVING FOR UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY:
Incredibly popular these days, photography while freediving means you can easily slip beneath the surface and get great pictures without all the equipment, costs and noisy bubbles of scuba gear.
Another advantage is that the fish and other sea life are less disturbed by the freediver and more likely to approach and join in the fun!
Underwater photography is a fine art in itself.
Donny has interviewed many of the world’s best freediving, underwater photographers like Daan Verhoeven, Fred Buyle and Pepe Arcos on his podcast The Freedive Café
A freediver sets off on a dive during his course at Freedive Taiwan.
FREEDIVING FOR HUNTING AND HARVESTING:
For tens of thousands of years freediving has been a means for humans to hunt and find food, whether that is chasing a fish with a spear or harvesting seafood like urchins. It is a part of our ancient history and instrumental in becoming who we are as a species.
Although controversial, there is no denying that hunting for one’s own food is the most sustainable means of surviving from the sea.
Please be aware that special attention must be paid to the health of the fish stock, and local regulations, in areas where you wish to hunt.
Freedive Taiwan does not teach spearfishing, nor do we promote or endorse spearfishing in the waters around Xiao Liuqiu island, for the simple fact that the fish stocks are struggling and the reef has been devastated by overfishing for decades, and more recently by warming ocean temperatures.
FREEDIVING FOR ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION:
We can use our skills as freedivers to help keep the ocean clean. We can remove old fishing nets and do our part to reduce the tsunami of plastic waste flooding into the sea every day. Every little helps. As freedivers we are uniquely positioned to see and understand the devastating changes taking place in the oceans and we can then take this information back to those on land who may not really comprehend the scale of the change.
Every time you go to the water, try to pick up some trash and take it away when you leave. Pick up some plastic from the beach (you will find it easily!) and put it in the recycling. At Freedive Taiwan we spend some time after every session filling up a bag with plastic waste. Environmental protection and improving the dire condition of our oceans and shorelines can easily become part of our freediving lifestyle.
IS FREEDIVING DANGEROUS?
Freediving has often been called the most dangerous sport in the world, but this is simply untrue.
In the past 25 years only one freediver has died in competitive freediving (for reasons largely understood, that could have been prevented).
While it is indeed true that many people die each year while spearfishing and snorkelling, there are two simple reasons for most of those deaths – diving alone, and diving without basic safety skills such as you learn on a freediving course.
Freedivers who run into problems when diving alone and black out (lose consciousness), are unlikely to survive. On the other hand, a diver who dives with another set of eyes on them, after having learned the safety guidelines and rescue techniques of a freediving course, will be safe from harm, even when blackout occurs.
When done with the knowledge and skills you will learn from an experienced instructor, freediving is probably the safest ‘extreme’ sport.
If you are not ready to take a freediving course, we urge you to visit www.freedivingsafety.com where you can take a short, online, FREE course in freediving safety. You will learn a lot!
Madison from Canada enjoys a quiet moment with some Barracuda during a training session at Freedive Taiwan.
RESOURCES TO LEARN ABOUT FREEDIVING:
The biggest online resource to learn about freediving is The Freedive Cafe Podcast, a long-form interview podcast Freedive Taiwan founder Donny has been producing since 2017. Here you can listen to hundreds of hours of interview with the world’s greatest freedivers.
Adam Stern, an Australian record holding competitive freediver has a very popular Youtube Channel with many interesting, fun and educational freediving videos.
For more information about freediving or for information about courses at Freedive Taiwan you are welcome to CONTACT US!
For information about the course and training look HERE.
For a detailed look at what happens on a 3/4 day freediving course at Freedive Taiwan see the article The Freedive Taiwan Level One Course in Detail (coming soon)