Diving is not just about jumping off a platform or a cliff to plunge yourself into the water. With another activity called free diving, you take the experience up a notch by swimming further downwards until you reach deeper parts of the ocean without using scuba gear. In free diving, you clearly do not need an oxygen tank. You really have to rely on the power of your mind and body. Right now, it still seems impossible if you have not tried free diving before. However, if other people can do it, so can you. To help you take part in one of the greatest experiences of a lifetime, we are here to give you tips on how to free dive:
How to Prepare for a Free Dive
Preparation is always the key for activities to be successful. To keep an enjoyable experience away from turning into a tragedy, you should know how to prepare for free diving:
Find a pro to go with you.
Never ever free dive alone. Let’s face it – free diving is extremely dangerous. However, your companion should be an expert. Your buddy should know how to monitor you while staying on the surface of the water. Also, your companion must be capable of saving you when you are in trouble.
Purchase the right kind of snorkel and air mask.
The two most important factors here are security and comfort. Your snorkel and air mask should perfectly fit your facial features while keeping you comfy.
Fortunately, it is easy to choose the right snorkel for free diving. Simply put, it only needs to be removable in just a snap and very comfy for your mouth.
When it comes to selecting a proper air mask, there are several factors to consider. First, it should fit you like a glove. To know if it perfectly fits you, put it on your face without strapping it. In order to make that possible, breathe in through your nose. If the mask stays on your face, then you are looking at the right product. If you drop the mask, it means it will not securely stick to your face.
Another feature an air mask needs for free diving is low volume. Since you are required to equalize pressure underwater by slowly breathing out through your nose, you might not be able to hold it in longer for you might exhale a lot of air in a short period of time. Thankfully, a low volume mask limits the air you exhale.
More importantly, the lens of the air mask should be tempered glass. This is crucial for other types of glass tend to break when they encounter strong water pressure.
If you want to protect your eyes from the water while swimming near the surface, simply use swim goggles instead.
Choose the right type of fins.
To help you swim deeper without any fuss, wear fins when you free dive. There are two kinds to choose from: monofins and bi-fins.
Monofins are such a delight to use for they look like a mermaid’s tail. Since a monofin technically has a wider form for being a single fin, it gives better performance. The big drawback, however, is you need a tremendous amount of training just to master using it.
Just to be safe, choose bi-fins. They are different from the fins used for scuba diving. They are longer to help you move faster underwater. In free diving, your moves have to be smoother so you can go to the surface fast when you cannot take it anymore. For beginners, soft and medium-soft blades are the most ideal. Like other types of swimming gear, fins should be comfy and secure to wear.
Buy a lanyard and a weight belt.
For an even safer free diving, use a special lanyard that is designed to attach divers to a certain line. It is a guide for easier descent into the deep. During worst-case scenarios such as you blacking out or encountering issues underwater, your buddy will use the line to locate you.
When it comes to effective free diving, wear a weight belt to make it easier for you to swim deeper. Most beginners find it hard to free dive for they cannot control their body well. They tend to float back to the water’s surface. By the way, you still have to consider several factors first to ensure that you have the right diving weights to clip to your belt.
If you are finally used to free diving, you may stop using a lanyard and a weight belt. These tools are made for beginners. In fact, you may use a sports watch made for diving to become a more responsible diver. If you monitor your duration underwater, you can go to the surface even before you start panicking. Your buddy will thank you for it.
Attend basic free diving classes.
Search for classes headed by a qualified free diving instructor. These training sessions will keep your lungs, sinuses and ears safe from water pressure. They will also teach you techniques on how to avoid drowning, fainting underwater, and decompression sickness.
What can we expect from free diving lessons? Well, they are usually done in a pool. The first part of the training is more on breathing exercises and techniques. To be more specific about the techniques, you will definitely encounter terms such as dynamic and static apnea. They will develop your tolerance to carbon dioxide.
Your newly purchased fins will come in handy as well for the free diving classes will also teach you how to kick underwater so you can move efficiently. Expect to learn three types of kicks also used by scuba divers. The basic one is the flutter kick. You just have to move your feet up and down while your legs stay parallel to one another. The next medium-level technique is the frog kick. You only need to bend your knees and move your legs in a circular motion outwards just like what frogs do. Let’s save the most difficult one for last: the dolphin kick. Your body needs to be more flexible for you have to move both of your legs up and down just like the swimming technique of dolphins and mermaids.
One of the most crucial things you will encounter in free diving classes is learning how to equalize water pressure. The instructor will teach you ways on how to avoid pain inside your ears while you are underwater. If you have no idea how to equalize pressure, you will just expose yourself to deadly scenarios during a free dive.
Join open water lessons.
For more complex free diving classes, you should attend open water sessions. Here, you will learn how to work with a diving buddy. Also, you will finally have a taste of free diving for you should pass the test in a 10-meter or 30-feet pool.
How to Breathe Before Free Diving
Since free diving revolves around proper breathing, here are some basic tips on how to control your breath from start to finish:
Stabilize your breathing.
Before free diving, you should prepare your mind and body. Specifically, you must aim to breathe slower and deeper to decrease your heart rate, ultimately relaxing your body. This lets you stay underwater longer.
The common technique is to lay on your back on the surface of the water. Then, breathe in using your mouth. Hold your breath in for a few seconds before slowly exhaling through your mouth. For emphasis, you have to exhale really slowly to successfully decrease your heart rate. Do this process for two minutes right before you dive.
Hold your breath.
You cannot just simply inhale as if it is your last breath. There is still a proper technique for this. You need to have the correct timing. Before inhaling a lot of air, you should fully exhale first. So, it is best to take two deep breaths before you free dive. Never go more than two breaths or you will hyperventilate.
For your last breath before free diving, you should inhale as deeply as you can. To achieve this, inhale slowly. You should be able to feel that your rib cage is expanding. Then, pause for a second. That is your cue to immediately start your dive.
Holding your last breath is so difficult that people are really practicing for this. To train yourself, set personal records and break them all. Start with just 20 seconds, for example. Then, as your training progresses, increase the duration. Your target should be more than a minute so you will really get to enjoy free diving, especially when you capture everything with a waterproof action camera.
Know how to resurface.
Is it enough to just resurface and finally inhale oxygen again? Big NO. There is such thing as recovery breathing. Meaning, there is a technique on how to inhale oxygen after holding your breath for a really long time. If you clumsily resurface, you might faint or find it hard to catch your breath.
This is when the buddy system really proves its importance. To do recovery breathing, you should hold on to someone. In a pool, you can do it alone by holding on to the edge of the pool.
Right after you resurface, inhale as deeply as you can. The common mistake here is exhaling right after this moment. The correct way is to hold your breath for a few seconds. When you hold your breath, this is time to relax yourself or gather your wits. Then, feel free to exhale all you want. Do this repeatedly for three times or more. If you want to dive again, ensure 100% recovery first. You really need to stabilize your breath.
How to Free Dive
In summary, learning how to free dive is basically teaching yourself how to breathe deeply, hold your breath, and equalize pressure underwater. When it comes to the swimming process, there are tools such as the weight belt and fins to help you swim deeper. Since free diving is such a risky activity, you really have to seriously prepare for everything. The training might take some time, but it is for your own good.
Meanwhile, when it comes to what you can wear during free diving, do not hesitate to wear a bikini. While getting ready right before free diving, you might expose yourself to harsh sunlight. So, you need to cover yourself with lotion or moisturizer containing SPF before getting yourself wet. However, if you fail to do so, heal your sunburn with the right lotion. Lastly, when you finally want to rest on the beach after an exhilarating free diving experience, complete your comfort gear with a fast-drying towel, super-wide SPF umbrella, and portable lounge chair.