• BluePlanetDivers


Freediving culture (a bit of history)

Freediving is an activity ancient as humanity itself. More than any other sport, freediving is based on the subconscious reflexes written in Homo sapiens genome.

From the moment of conception, human embryo lives in an aquatic environment that is very similar to seawater. When it is born, if submerged under the water, human infant will instinctively hold its breath for up to 40 seconds while making swimming movements. However, it looks like that we lose this innate ability as soon as we begin to walk. Waking up these natural reflexes is one of the most important elements of freediving; as a consequence, it will allow the freediver to be better protected at large depths.

The word Apnea derives from the Greek word “apnoia”, which literally means “without breathing”. Although the origin of this word isn’t connected to water, in modern athletic terminology “Apnea” has become a synonym for freediving, i.e. diving on one breath of air, without the use of equipment that would make it possible to breathe underwater. Therefore, “Apnea” has put together a comprehensive and very detailed yet very involving reading about the history of Apnea and freediving itself. Find some time to get to know freediving and its history by following this link …….

Freediving with our instructor

I love being in and underwater. I love long distance swimming. I taught swimming to beginners, trained people to improve their stroke technique and was a lifeguard before I started teaching scuba diving 15 years ago. I have been teaching freediving for the past four years. I wish that you start to love being in the water as much as I do. I really don’t care how deep you will go or how long you will stay, as long as you enjoy your time underwater. Only after experiencing that enjoyment, you will surprise yourself at how deep you’ve gone and how long you’ve stayed.

For me, freediving involves a lot of things but I particularly like the process of recognizing and releasing anxiety (especially the tension of needing air!). Other stresses in life are more complex, but I’ve found certain aspects of freediving to be a useful approach for dealing with them and calming down.

Training up and down a descent line or back and forth lengths of the pool might be a bit meticulous, even boring sometimes, but you might end up finding it hypnotic. You might even become addicted to the physical challenge. I’ve helped send people on their way to national records.

Next, there is the fun of diving to find out what is down there. Following my colleague scuba divers who have sufficient time to look for beautiful macro life, I can dive down through their bubbles to see the harlequin shrimp, ghost pipe fish, even sea horses that they’ve spotted. In return, freedivers have better oversight to see the mantas and whale sharks and are able to keep up with these big pelagic much easier. Sometimes freedivers have guided whale sharks back to our scuba diving buddies so all of us could enjoy!

Freediving Disciplines

  • Recreational Freediving:
    • Depths of 0-100 feet
    • Many repetitive dives between 30 secs to 2 minutes
    • Freedivers stay within their own limits
    • Freedivers rely on themselves and their buddy for safety
    • Freedivers interact with marine life, explore wrecks and structures, and explore the terrain.
  • Competitive Freediving:
    • Competitive freedivers test themselves for time, depth and distance underwater
    • Performances are more than double recreational time, depth and distance
    • Extensive safety arrangements are made, including safety SCUBA and freedivers
    • Freedivers test their limits
    • Freedivers are at a higher risk of samba or blackout

The disciplines of apnea are defined by A.I.D.A.:

  • Static Apnea (STA) This discipline consist of holding your breath for as long as possible while staying motionless. It sets high demands for the competitor’s concentration ability.
  • Dynamic Apnea without Fins (DNF) A variation of the previous discipline where the longest possible distance is achieved without the use of fins.
  • Dynamic Apnea with Fins (DYF) In this discipline the competitor is using fins to swim the longest possible distance under water.
  • Free Immersion Apnea (FIM) This discipline allows the competitor to pull along the measuring rope to his/her depth and back again.
  • Constant Weight Apnea (CWA) Considered by insiders to be the original freediving discipline. The competitor makes use of traditional ABC-equipment to reach his/her depth. The discipline sets the highest demands to the freediver’s mental power, physique and technique.
  • Constant Weight Apnea without Fins (CWAF) This discipline consists of swimming down and up along the rope as in classic constant weight, but without the use of fins and using breast strokes. This discipline is called ‘the true human aquatic potential’.
  • Variable Weight Apnea (VWT) In this discipline the diver makes use of a specially designed sled running along the measuring rope to achieve his/her depth. Historically, the sled has evolved from a simple weight attached to a noose, till today’s highly sophisticated, hydrodynamic sled leading the diver downward with high speed. The freediver traditionally makes use of the measuring rope to pull back to the surface.
  • No-Limits Apnea (NLT) Traditionally, this has been the discipline for reaching greatest depth. It is a further development of variable weight, where the competitor apart from the sled traditionally uses an inflatable balloon for returning to the surface.

Freediving courses overview

If you are totally new to freediving, then the easiest way to start with this activity is to enrol in a course. Even the beginner’s courses will take you beyond simple snorkeling and will provide you with a level of comfort in the water that you never thought it would be possible. Blue Planet Apnea teaches freediving according to the AIDA system. Find more details about AIDA freediving education system.

Although the courses on the first 3 levels are focused on recreational freediving, it is good to know about different categories in freediving competition, since we also use these terms when teaching and training. If you have decided to become a freediver, then making yourself familiar with the competition disciplines and terminology would be a great beginning.

Back to top