How to get into freediving


Freediving (also known as freediving or apnea, from ancient Greek for "respiratory arrest") is perhaps the most original form of diving, which is certainly one of the most dangerous disciplines: Extreme athletes can dive up to 300 meters deep with just one breath. The best freedivers are underwater for more than 10 minutes.

No question about it: Freediving is as fascinating as it is demanding. But how does this peak performance work medically? And how do you train for such a challenge? We explain important facts about apnea diving and give you tips for beginners.

History of Freediving

Before scuba diving became technically possible, freediving was the only way to explore the underwater world. Therefore, there was probably freediving as early as the Stone Age. Shells and pearls were collected or fish were hunted underwater. Today, freediving is a fascinating fringe sport. The fascination is probably also due to the fact that particularly careful training is necessary for freediving and that sport is associated with great risks.

How is freediving medically possible?

There are several physical challenges in freediving: On the one hand, the diver not only delays breathing for as long as possible, but also the pressure equalization takes place particularly quickly. In order to suppress the breath stimulus, apnea divers use special breathing techniques. In addition, special breathing exercises help to increase the lung volume and keep the diaphragm elastic. So the diver can take in more air right from the start. An elastic diaphragm also helps to equalize pressure. The so-called “blood shift” phenomenon often occurs in trained freedivers: Here, lymph fluid is temporarily stored in the alveoli, which helps to keep the lung volume constant. However, such effects can only be achieved with long-term training.

Freediving in competition

Professional freediving is regulated according to the guidelines of the Association of Freedivers Aida and is divided into disciplines in the pool and in open water. Competitions are only held in those disciplines in which the risks are relatively low.

The following competitions take place in the pool:

  • Static (time diving): The time that the diver can spend underwater with one breath is measured. To do this, he lies motionless in the water.
  • Dynamic (distance diving): The distance that the diver can cover underwater with just one breath is measured here. There are competitions with and without fins.

The following freediving competitions are held in open water:

  • Constant (deep diving with constant weight): This is about diving as deeply as possible. The apnea diver may use weights to overcome the buoyancy, but must take them up again. Constant is possible with or without fins as well as with a leash.

Because of the high risks, the following freediving disciplines are not competitive disciplines:

  • Variable Weight (deep diving with variable weight): A diving sledge that is left on the bottom is used here for a particularly fast descent. For example, a line or fins can be used for the ascent.
  • No Limit: All conceivable technical aids are allowed here. Often a particularly powerful sledge pulls the diver down quickly and a winch can help with the ascent. In “No Limit” apnea diving, pressure equalization is particularly important. Due to the incalculable risks, accidents often occur with No Limit.

The best freedivers in the world

The early freedivers are legendary today, especially the two eternal rivals Jacques Mayol and Enzo Maiorca, whose mutual spurring on top performance inspired the film "In the intoxication of the deep". The Italian Umberto Pelizzari is also well known in the freediving scene, as he set freediving records in all disciplines in the 1990s.

Today, William Trubridge and Alexei Moltschanow, among others, are considered the best freedivers of their time.

If you are interested in freediving, you should never "just go"! Training with an instructor is especially important when clearing. You will find the right dive instructor in our database.

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