It takes all kinds…
In my years of freediving I’ve gotten to know a lot of divers, which has been (mostly) an absolute delight. I’ve had the privilege of diving with some of the top freedivers in the world, been asked to freedive with humpback whales with GroPro and every few weeks I get to join a group of new freedivers for classes and be reminded of why I started this whole thing anyway.
I’ve also seen that there are about 10 general types of freedivers (and this is an obvious generalization). Most divers I meet fall into one of these types, or some mutts fall into multiple categories. And I love (almost) all of them.
The Gear Head- “Okay, so I’ve got new carbon fibers fins because my old carbon fibers seemed a little soft and I heard the new Suunto D4i is out so I upgraded from my old D4. Which wetsuit should I wear when we go dive? I’ve got my 3mm Omer, my 3mm Oceaner, my 3mm comp suit or my different color 3mm comp suit. Should I bring one of my eight spearguns? Oh and do you have a snorkel? I don’t need to borrow one, but I have three extra in case we need them.”
This diver is AWESOME to dive with because they will always have backup EVERYTHING. But that being said, their accumulation says nothing of their skill level. Some are great and some are not. You can be awesome in the crappiest old gear and you can be terrible in the newest, high tech equipment available.
The Bulldozer- “I hit 100 feet! It may have taken me 2 minutes, I might have squeezed my ears, rocketed to the surface and nearly blacked out, but I did it!”
This boisterous diver is usually a riot to dive with and will reach the target come hell or high water. BUT, they often need a level head around to keep them from getting hurt. They usually don’t have great form, but don’t be surprised if they power through every time!
The Nervous Nelly- “I know I just did a three-minute breath-hold but it didn’t feel good and I’m pretty sure I did the breathe-up wrong. It’ll be a lot harder when I go to the ocean too because my technique isn’t perfect. I’ve gotten to 60 feet before but that was a long time ago and I haven’t practiced enough. I’ll probably blackout if I try again.”
Nervous Nellies are funny, because they’re usually pretty good divers. They worry so much about their skills that they work on them constantly resulting in…shocker…good skills! But don’t try to tell them that. The only drawback for them is that they occasionally talk themselves right out of a good performance because they can’t calm down.
The True Hunter- “Today was amazing- we headed out on the boat around 5am and hit some really good spots. We were only out for about 10 hours today, but I’ll be back out tomorrow…Catch? Well I didn’t take anything today. I saw a couple good ones, but I have enough in the fridge right now.”
I call these folks true hunters because they’re out to provide food for the table, not to catch a trophy or to impress anyone. They are educated divers and hunters and they take only what they need, in the most sustainable way possible.
The Zen Master- “When you’re ready to go dive, I’ll be down by the water doing yoga. If you’d like some Oolong I’ve left some in the cupboard. Namaste.”
The Zen Master is the freediver who usually does some form of yoga and/or meditation, is frustratingly calm in high stress moments (competition) and often has a monster breath-hold…Possibly because they’re mentally dancing through different universes while doing statics. All joking aside though, these guys are often very, very good divers and have great focus. Zen Masters make up a large percentage of the top freedivers in the world.
The Ocean Pirate- “Did you see my stringer full of fish? They may all be small but it’ll add up to a solid meal! I’m not sure what that one is…but…well I’m sure it’ll eat! And don’t mind that lobster, I accidentally ripped off all the legs and antennae, but I’m going to eat it anyway. What?…It’s got eggs? Crap, well throw it overboard.”
I call these guys/gals pirates because they rape and pillage the ocean with no regard to what’s left behind. Yes, you’re allowed to hunt, but why take out animals indiscriminately? Sustainable harvest allows you to get food for your table and allows the environment to subsist and replenish afterward. It’s better to miss a good fish than to shoot a small/illegal one. As The Dude says, “This aggression will not stand, man.”
The Carefree Freak- “I know you said to go to 100 feet, but I did 200 because I was feeling good. I hung out at the bottom for a second because there was this fish that was like ‘what’s up man?’ So I chilled with him for a second before I headed up. I feel warmed up now so when are we going to start going deep?”
These guys are infuriatingly good with minimal effort and often don’t realize it right away. They spearfish deep, but don’t think it’s very deep and hit incredible depths on target dives without feeling gassed. And we all love them. And hate them. But mostly love them.
The Focused Competitor- “…”
I’m sorry, there’s no quote for this one because he’s busy doing visualizations and running through his dive sequence. He’ll talk to you when the dive is over in about an hour.
The Chest Thumper- “How deep have you gone? 75 feet? That’s funny, I’ve been to 80. How big is your fish? Oh man, mine’s at least an inch bigger. Your suit is okay and all, but you really should upgrade to one like mine.”
This guy is much cooler than you are. He’s also probably taller, stronger, has better dive spots, better friends, dates hotter girls and can drink way more beer than you can. A regular Bill Brasky. While deep down he’s not a bad guy, he’s really only fun to dive with when he’s got a snorkel plugging his mouth.
The Mellow Rec Diver- “Want to go diving?…Whenever…wherever? I’d be down for some spearfishing…or target diving…or we could just snorkel. Want to go to the pool and train? I can safety you for a static if you want.”
These divers are the BEST because they are down for anything at anytime. These are probably the truest form of freediver because they just love the water in all its forms. They’ll get in the water just to be in the water. Cold? No problem. Dark? Well who needs to see anyway. Rough? That’s what seasick meds are for. If you find one of these folks try to make them your dive buddy for life. They may not be the deepest diver or have the biggest fish, but that’s just not why they do it.
Now I’m sure I’m forgetting some kinds, so please feel free to update this in the comment section!
***A few additions after reading Facebook responses…***
Ex-Freediver- No such thing! Who on earth would quit this sport? Even if you’re “taking a break” we all know you’ll come back.
DIY Diver- A gung-ho diver wearing 50% hand-me down gear (whether it fits or not) and 50% home-made equipment.