Mar 23

Freediving on Film- Everybody’s Doing It!

I have a theory. Some of you may have heard this before, but I’m fairly certain freediving is present in most mainstream movies and television shows these days, and I’m not just talking about movies like The CoveThough dear to many of our apnea-loving hearts, freediving remains a niche sport, within a larger niche sport (scuba).

Yet even so, the idea of being able to hold your breath for minutes at a time and dive to the bottom of the ocean fascinates and captivates even those who aren’t yet willing to put their heads underwater. Just look at how many people turned up to watch David Blaine hold his breath in a sphere in 2006.

I’m compiled a list of some of my favorite freediving movie/television moments below, but please feel free to post new ones too! Theory and all, I’m still always surprised to hear about some movies that include freediving!

#1- Waterworld

Okay, no big surprise here. Guy has gills. Guy lives in world covered by water. There’s bound to be freediving in that one.

Well, I guess technically it’s not freediving if he’s got gills. Eh, I’ll still count it.




#2- It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia

In one episode Charlie attempts to break the world record for breath-holding. Apparently he can hold his breath for seven minutes! (And that’s without training!)





#3- Harry Potter…I think it’s the fourth one?

In one of the Harry Potter movies Harry eats “gillyweed” and grows fins and gills. I’ve been on the lookout for gillyweed ever since but I think it’s illegal everywhere except California.




#4- South Park- PiPi’s Splashtown episode

Kyle claims to be able to hold his breath for impressively long times and eventually is told he has to dive to the bottom of a pool of…well, it’s not water…to save everyone in the park! Watch out though, there’s some misinformation about decompression sickness in this episode.




#5- 2012

With the world completely flooded John Cusak has to save everyone by freediving into the bowels of the rescue ship to free the main door gears from an entanglement. I think this movie might just be the prequel to #1 on this list, Waterworld.




So there are the first five, but please post more if you know of some! I’m always game to watch some incidental freediving. :)


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  1. Chris

    Navy Seals, The Guardian, GI Jane, The Lord of the Rings, and my personal favorite even though its a short, Defending the Vandenberg.

  2. WES

    The Abyss has a couple of good ones. I think the first is where Ed Harris and Leo Burmester have to go out of one air lock and swim under the rig to another holding their breath. I found the scene (no sound for some reason)


    The other much more dramatic is where Harris and Mary E Mastranto are stuck in their broken flooding sub and he she holds her breath and “drowns” while he swims here back underwater and then brings her back to life. Here is a clip. Go straight to the 1 minute mark.
    it does not show the swim though. To see part of the swim and the dramatic revive look at:
    I just never got why he sat there at watched her drown rather than start swimming as soon as she started holding her breath. Man! If she had taken the PFI class she might have made it the whole way without even losing consciousness!


  3. admin

    Oh! Can’t believe I forgot about Lord of the Rings! That was a good one too.

    I liked Defending the Vandenberg too, but I’m obviously a bit partial. :)

    Wes- The Abyss actually ran through my head when I was writing this post too. That was one of my earliest experiences with freediving in movies- I remember seeing it when I was a kid and thinking how much it would hurt to “drown” like that. Now I see it and think that the hardest part wouldn’t be the breath-hold so much as the cold water they were in!!!

    More movies, anyone?

  4. Piotr

    Into the Blue!

  5. Grumpy Typewriter

    The Big Blue, surely. Love the dream sequence when he’s in bed.

    The Deep, from the Peter Benchley novel. All I can really recall is a curious segment when three of them came up without air after tanks were stolen underwater.

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