If you want to explore the wonders of the ocean, then you’ll need to dive below the surface. Freediving is one of the most popular ways to dive because it requires nothing more than a mask and some fins. But beyond the minimalist equipment, you’ll also need to learn the proper techniques and procedures to help you dive down on a single breath.
Jilian Navidonski is a swim instructor and drowning prevention advocate, who also happens to be a member of Salt Life’s diving team. We asked Jilian what it takes to become freediving certified and she gave us a list of the top 5 things you need to know about the process.
Here’s what we learned from Jilian.
1. Gear Up
One of the most fun things about freediving is gearing up for your dive. There is so much to learn when it comes to getting the gear you need for your first dive. You’ll learn about all the different types of masks, fins, and wetsuits, and what conditions call for which gear. As you progress in the sport, you will start to develop your own preferences for masks and fins, and start to build a collection of wetsuits to match whatever type of water you’re diving into.
2. Take a Freediving Course
Once you have your gear, the next step is to find a freediving instructor to teach you the basics. Different instructors will offer different diving techniques and skill sets. Do some research and figure out what your goals are, and what you want to get out of the course. Let these answers guide you to the right instructor. This is how you are going to establish the building blocks of freediving, so you’ll want to make sure you get out of it what you want to, and what you need to, as well as work with an instructor who teaches in a style that you are comfortable with.
Jilian, specifically, wanted to learn how to relax while diving, and how to stay beneath the surface for longer. She also wanted to learn how to rescue someone underwater if necessary. She spent months researching and talking to instructors before finally deciding on the right one for her (Tanner Pederson of Depthwish Freediving).
3. Trust Your Body, Calm Your Mind
Your body was made for the water thanks to the Mammalian Dive Reflex that all humans have. It’s the reason that newborn babies can swim naturally. Thus, it’s not the physical aspect of diving that’s toughest to master - it’s the mental aspect. To fully enjoy freediving you need to trust your body and learn how to calm your mind. Letting go of your mental angst and fear is an essential element to freediving, so make sure you choose an instructor who teaches calming techniques.
4. Uncomfortable Vs. Incapable
Holding your breath for an extended period of time is required to freedive. This can be an uncomfortable process, but that doesn’t mean your body is incapable of doing it. As land creatures, we are programmed to breathe subconsciously. You will learn how to gently push yourself past the mental urge to breathe in the pool sessions of your freediving course. Once you have this down, you will then take your new skills to the open water.
Ultimately, your freediving experience will come down to how much practice and time you put in beneath the surface. Practice leads to progress and safety is absolutely essential in freediving. Make sure that you always dive with a buddy who you trust!
Some days out diving will be incredible and you will feel completely free and relaxed. Other days in the water will feel hard and forced and not as successful. That’s just the natural rhythm of freediving. Don’t get discouraged. What matters is that you're diving safely within your limits, and seizing every opportunity to dip below the surface.
Ready to dive beneath the surface? Salt Life has you covered with the gear you need to stay cool and protected from the sun when you come back up.