How hard is it to explain why you freedive to a non-freediver? How do you explain why we take a big breath, go down and up a line, and surface without having spent 45 minutes exploring corals and marine life to a scuba diver? How do you explain the feeling, the meditative experience, the calm contentment of letting go and surrendering yourself to the ocean to someone who has never done it before? We as freedivers know the feeling, but putting it into words for others to understand can be difficult. But there are more logical reasons you can give to someone who you think could be interested in freediving.
1. It is a sport
Just like swimming, skiing, and figure skating are solo sports, so is freediving! It is physically and mentally challenging and requires time, practice, and effort to get better at it. Freediving competitions are getting more and more attention as time goes by, and the sport itself is getting bigger.
Practically speaking, as adults, it can be hard to keep up with team sports after leaving school or university. When choosing freediving, not as much effort is required to coordinate training as a team sport, since it involves less people (usually, just one other person).
2. Personal Challenge
When it comes to freediving, you can always improve. You can hold your breath longer, go deeper, be mentally stronger, more flexible, and be more comfortable in the water or at depth. It is a challenge against your body and your mind. Holding your breath goes against the human body’s nature, and adapting your body to depth or to the amount of oxygen your muscles consume takes serious work. Not to mention the training it takes to calm your mind and relax your body, even through contractions! The challenges are limitless.
3. Healthy Lifestyle
Just as most sports, a healthy lifestyle is key to freediving. Eating a balanced diet, having a certain level of physical fitness, avoiding drinking and smoking, stretching, and mental health all contribute to improving as a freediver. Even meditation is encouraged in order to keep your mind in balance before and during a dive, and that translates into your regular life as well.
Also, freediving itself is a great exercise. After all, the body burns a good amount of calories in the water just trying to keep itself warm, and that does not even include all of the finning, pulling, and being a good safety.
Swimming underwater is like flying. The feeling of being weightless, of having the ability to move whichever way you please without gravity limiting you, and feeling the water gently pressing down on your skin; what can be more peaceful than that? Although scuba diving allows you to breathe and enjoy being underwater for longer, you are not able to ascend and descend freely, and having a BCD, tank, and regulator can be quite cumbersome at times.
Freediving requires less equipment, and you have the absolute freedom of movement, whether it is somersaulting through the water, dashing deeper to see an octopus, or gently ascending to take a breath alongside a turtle.
5. It just feels good!
For how challenging freediving is, it sure feels exceptionally good to accomplish personal goals, and there are many to work for in the sport. But apart from that, there is a special feeling when your mind shuts off, your senses come alive, and you let yourself be cradled by the sea. It is not uncommon to see a freediver come up from a dive with a ridiculously happy smile, or eyes filled with a strange peace. And as you experience that for yourself, you appreciate it, even more, when you watch someone else experiencing the pure joy that is a relaxed dive. It is a known, universal sensation amongst the freediving community, In the end, all most of us are really doing is chasing bliss.
Kristina, an AIDA, PADI, and Molchanovs W2 Freediving Instructor, discovered her love for the sea as a PADI Divemaster in Dahab, Egypt, where she shared the Blue Hole with freedivers and developed a serious passion for the single-breath sport. Nowadays, when she isn’t nose-deep in a novel on the beach, Kristina likes to train depth, and often pretends to be a mermaid when her buddy isn't looking.