What is freediving?

What is Freediving !?
When somebody asks you: “For how long can you hold your breath ?”, most people will answer: Yikes ?! Well 1 minute is pretty long I guess…”. When you ask the same question to a freediver he will answer somewhere around 5 minutes. Fact is that most people, magazines and reporters will question the sanity of most freedivers. It’s a normal respond doubt this kind of sport, because most people don’t even know what the limits for the human body.

So what is freediving…?
In short: To go as long, as far or as deep under water on a single breath of air.

This explains what the sport stands for according the description, but freediving itself ofcourse is something else… When freediving most freedivers experience a sensation, a feeling or a way of life, it starts when submerging the head into the water. When doing so, you’ll instantly notice the silence which seperates the outside world of the underwater world. Sensation of the senses becomes more clear then ever, by separating from the outside world you can focus on your body and sense the signals its giving you. It’s kind of losing yourself into the depth of silence.

But, isn’t it dangerous ?!
Well, freediving starts to get dangerous when doing it without the proper knowledge of the sport, this also goes for lots of other sports. So if you get into freediving, you’ll have to learn the basics of freediving. During these basic courses you’ll meet the sport and learn that a big part of the program is about safety. It’s a sport which asks a lot of the human body and is known to be an extreme sport.

The human body has some automatic signals when meeting the limitations of the body. If you do not know the signals, don’t give attention to the signals or just ignore them, then the danger and consequenses will increase. The signals can be influenced by different circumstance like; nerves or pressure to perform in competitions. Top-freedivers excel from the rest, by having their mental and physical part in proper balance to control their body.

A lot of medical aspects are unknown and yet to be discoverd. The sport is growing and more top-freedivers let themselves in on medical examination for sienctific purposes, which improves the quality of the sport. In the early days of freediving, doctors thought that a depth of 25m was the limit for the human body, but in present freediving the barrier of 200m is breached… Who knows which depths the human body can resist?

Recreational or Competitive ?
Recreational freediving is done in many locations and brings a whole different approach of the underwater world then scuba diving. No bubbles to scare the living creatures and a perfect way to explore and discover the water.

When it comes to competitive freediving it’s seperated into 2 different categories of disciplines; pool disciplines and depth disciplines.

Pool Disciplines

Dynamic With Fins (DYN)
The freediver travels in a horizontal position under water attempting to cover the greatest possible distance. Any propulsion aids other than fins or a monofin and swimming movements with the arms are prohibited Dynamic with fins is the most typical of both disciplines measuring the distance in freediving, because of the specific means of propulsion : long fins or monofin. Performances could only be recognized in swimming-pools with a minimum length of 25 meters, and are sometimes considered in national or indoor’s ‘combiné’, with the Static apnea.

Dynamic Without Fins (DNF)
The freediver travels in a horizontal position under water attempting to cover the greatest possible distance. Any propulsion aids are prohibited. Dynamic without fins is the most natural of both disciplines measuring the distance for many freedivers, because it doesn’t need any propulsing material, but a very good technique. Performances also could only be recognized in pools with a minimum lenght of 25 meters, and are greatly appreciated from “old-swimmers”.

Static Apnea (STA)
The freediver holds his breath for as long as possible with his respiratory tracts immerged, his body either in the water or at the surface. Static apnea is the only discipline measuring the duration, and one of the three disciplines considered for the international competitions by team, with Constant weight and Dynamic with fins. Performances could be done and recognized in both pool or open water (sea, lake, river, etc).

Depth Disciplines

Constant Weight Without Fins (CNF)
The freediver descends and ascends under water using only his own muscle strenght, without the use of propulsion equipment and without pulling on the rope.

Constant weight without fins is the most difficult sportive depth discipline, because of absolutely no propulsing material to go down in the water. This category needs a perfect coordination between propulsing movments, equalization, technique and buoyancy.

Constant Weight (CWT)
The freediver descends and ascends using his fins/monofin and/or with the use of his arms without pulling on the rope or changing his ballast; only a single hold of the rope to stop the descent and start the ascent is allowed. Constant weight is the common sportive depth discipline of freediving, because of the specific fins or monofins used in it. Constant weight is one of the three disciplines considered for the international competitions by team, with Static apnea and Dynamic with fins.

Free Immersion (FIM)
The freediver dives under water without the use of propulsion equipment, but only by pulling on the rope during descent and ascent. Free immersion is the sportive depth discipline with the purest sensations, because of the speed of the water in the body, and the power of each pull on the rope as only mean of propulsion. Performances could be done the head first during the descent, or the feet first, depending equalization facilities of each freedivers… Some of them also even use mixed solutions.

Variable Weight (VWT)
The freediver descends with the help of a ballast weight and ascends using his own strength: arms and/or legs, either by pulling or not pulling on the rope. Variable weight is the first of both depth disciplines using a sled to go down in the water.

Old sleds was descending “head first”, like presented in the famous Luc Besson’s movie “Le Grand Bleu”, but new sleds descending “feet first” are now generalized.

No Limit (NLT)
The freediver descends with the help of a ballast weight and ascends via a method of his choice. No limit is the absolute depth discipline. Going down with a sled, and going back up with a balloon, a diving suit or a vest with inflatable compartments, or whatever other means.

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