Maybe you’re new to freediving or maybe you’ve been doing it for years, but for most divers atteniding their first freedive course it can be a little nerve racking. You’ll ask yourself questions like, “What if I’m the worst one there?” “What if I can’t do it?” or “What if I don’t have the right gear?”
Well one thing is true for all of us– we were all beginners at one point and we have all had those same kinds of thoughts.
I still remember my first class. I was skeptical and nervous all at once. I figured I’d walk into a class full of professional freedivers, taught by some freakish, non-human record-holders and I’d be the worst diver in the room. When I actually walked in on day one all my worries were put to rest. I saw that these were just some great, enthusiastic divers with a lot to teach me.
So now that I’m the teacher I try to remember what it was like to be on the other side of the classroom everytime I start a course.
So with all that in mind I wanted to give you all a few DOs and DONTs for you freedivers out there considering taking your first course.
DO: Keep an open mind.
This one’s a biggie. For any of you freedivers who already have experience in the ocean and with apnea- keep in mind that you’re taking the class to pick up new techniques. You don’t have to embrace 100% of what you learn, but at least try it, give it a shot and you might find new ways of improving your breath-hold, equalization and depth.
For those of you who are brand new to the sport, try to open yourself up to the possibility that you really could be a freediving dynamo. You might just be capable of the four-minute breath-hold or hundred-foot dive after all. The old adage, “If you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right,” definitely holds true for this sport.
I know, that’s easier said than done, but people come into classes with a variety of skill levels and they all have their own personal strengths and weaknesses. An experienced spearfisher might have a better breath-hold or be more comfortable in the water, but newer divers are often better at learning skills because they don’t have to unlearn bad habits first. Wherever you fall in the range of skill levels, with a little focus, intention and some good instruction you’ll see drastic improvements no matter where you started.
DO: Try to get some of the more important pieces freedive equipment.
I wish that I could say that you’ll do just as well with basic scuba diving or snorkeling gear, but unfortunately that’s just not the case. Having good freediving equipment directly impacts your performance. A proper well-fitted freediving suit will keep you warm enough to maximize your breath-hold and will be flexible enough to help you take your biggest possible breath. A low-volume mask will keep more air in your lungs, helping you equalize and maximize the available oxygen for your freedive. Long-blade fins will make your kick more efficient, helping you reach depth easier. When you only have one breath, every advantage counts.
DON’T: Pick a number.
Don’t be the I’m-going-to-100-feet-no-matter-what guy. He rarely does well. Putting pressure to reach a certain depth or time makes it WAY harder to do so. It’s better to celebrate every personal best and take on the next challenge as you work towards new depths. It seems counter-intuitive to say that the best way to reach a goal is to stop focusing on it, but in a way it’s true.
DO: Have fun and relax!
That’s what it’s all about anyway, right? Most of us didn’t get into freediving because we wanted to reach a certain depth. Most of us got into it to enjoy the ocean. Try and keep it all in perspective and you’ll be golden.
If you’re considering signing up for a freediving course or have any questions please feel free to post those in the comment section below! I try to answer everything as quickly as possible.