How Freediving can make you a SUPER Scuba Diver
Freediving is awesome, and everybody wants to give it a go. While in most ways Scuba and Freediving are like apples and oranges, below is a small list of some of the BENEFITS of learning to Freedive, in order to become a SUPER Scuba Diver.
Spirituality and mental capacity aside, this point is for the more logical thinkers. I had a student ask me once, “why would I get certified as a freediver when I am going to continue to go on recreational scuba dives every vacation”. Scuba Divers share something very similar to most adventure vacationers- they revel in the idea of learning something new, and progressing their existing skills. So how does Freediving improve air consumption?
Freedivers have to learn on maximizing the amount of time they have on one breath, and as such, they need to learn the physiology behind this efficiency. Without getting into too much detail, this involved relaxation, and using techniques to combat the natural anxieties and feelings that allow tension to arise, and oxygen to be burnt at a faster rate. Freedivers become a master of their breath, their body and their mind, and these techniques when second nature, can dramatically decrease air consumption, as well as your increase your ability to deal with problems underwater.
There is an argument that can be made that freediving requires a bit more swimming ability then SCUBA, but in the same way, students that learn to freedive first - get to know the equipment and become familiar with being in the water- might have an advantage when they then go on to their SCUBA certification. Anyone that has taught SCUBA diving can recall students that needed special attention at the beginning, and for some others the line between SCUBA instructor and swimming instructor is sometimes questions and flirted with. Freedive instructors are well versed in patience, and students can often gain a lot of valuable experience in their level one freedive course.
I worked as a SCUBA Instructor for almost 6 years, racking up recreational and professional certifications, and teaching all levels of SCUBA Diving with confidence and skill. However, it wasn’t until I began freediving more seriously that I realized I never really truly learned how to equalize. I thought I was doing myself a favor by learning how to equalize “hands-free” which for those who don’t understand means I can swallow or displace my jaw enough to allow air pressure to equalize. This technique allowed me to more confidently respond to student problems by having both hands free at all times. Unfortunately, this technique was difficult to apply to freediving, as I did not have ample time on descent to equalize efficiently and fully. “Fully” is the operative word here- many SCUBA divers never really learn to equalize fully, we just get away with partial equalizations that can eventually lead to sore ears, and maybe even ear infections. I wasn’t plagued with these problems as an SCUBA instructor, but they were also not uncommon. Freediving teaches more efficient ways of equalizing, and allows students to experience the difference between a full and a partial equalization, and how they can practice to ensure success.
Teaching neutral buoyancy to a new student is difficult, as it is something that is more effectively shown and felt rather then taught. Many SCUBA divers (including myself) really don’t know what true neutral buoyancy was until their Divemaster course, when they have a revelation on a dive and feel like they are floating through space. It’s hard to experience this feeling in the early stages of SCUBA because we have so much other stuff to worry about- our BCD, our mask, and our lungs that want to breath vigorously.
Freediving eliminates many of these factors, and allows students to really feel neutral buoyancy quite quickly. Not only are students taught and directed how to feel it, but also how to embrace it and to enjoy it. After all, when we really experience it, deep down, it brings with it an incredible sense of calm and relaxation that can only be discovered, not taught.
Freediving is something different for every single person, and that is why it will continue to grow in the hearts of minds of the world. The mental progression that arises from learning to tolerate your mental and physical responses to CO2 buildup is often revealing and astounding. Students witness a confidence in themselves that can and often does manifest itself into positivity and proactivity. I draw it into comparison with the first time I completed a marathon, without training. It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t fast and it certainly was far from easy- but I did it, and it changed the way I have approached problems ever since. The small wins in life add up to constant progression, capitulating a lifestyle of dynamic movement and motivation.
In the same way, developing a higher awareness of your mental capacities, you prepare yourself to more thoughtfully and logically deal with problems underwater. We often teach SCUBA students to calm themselves by slowing down, breathing deeply and if they need to, closing their eyes. Freediving employs even more techniques for calming the mind and body, all of which can be used effectively when approaching problems on SCUBA.
So there you have it, a reason to try something different AND get better at something you already do. Win win. Get in touch with us to find out more information, and share this blog with a friend who might be interested.