Getting started in freediving

Scuba Diving on the Great Escape Southern California Live-Aboard Dive Boat

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Posted by Franko on June 19, 2002 at 11:40:05:

In Reply to: Freedive info request posted by Kevin H.2O on June 19, 2002 at 10:10:43:

Hi Kevin,

As a scuba-certified diver who mostly switched to freediving during the past year, I've looked for the kind of information you sound like you're after.

As a starter you probably ought to go out and buy a copy of the book "Freedive!" by Terry Maas and David Sipperly. This is available in a lot of local dive shops, or from outlets like Amazon. It's a good general intro to freediving.

If by freediving you mean spearfishing (which is what most, but not all, people who call themselves freedivers do; I on the other hand mostly shoot pictures myself), that's another quite complicated topic. Terry Maas also authored a book called "Bluewater Hunting and Freediving." I can't say too much about it since I haven't read it and haven't done anything with hunting.

Lately I've been reading a couple of books by Carlos Eyles ("Last of the Blue Water Hunters" and "The Blue Edge"). Carlos, who's now around 60, grew up til age 10 in Hawaii, then moved to suburban L.A. and dove/hunted places like Laguna and Catalina in the '50s and '60s, then the Sea of Cortez. I find his books interesting because they give you a very immediate sense of the visceral experience of diving and hunting. He got a nasty case of ciguatera poisoning from eating fish in Fiji in the late '80s which left him allergic to all seafood; since then he's concentrated on freediving and photography (which is what I'm currently doing). He now lives in Hawaii in Kona and offers freediving classes -- these tend to emphasize enhancing your awareness of the ocean environment as you dive rather than technical skills per se. I'd love to take one from him if I could swing the time.

When I started out I spent a while looking around for a teacher. Most of the response that came back was that I should just get out there and do it. If you're into hunting, you might want to check out the Long Beach Neptunes and/or Mark Barville's freedive email list at his web site at . See if you can get invited out on someone's boat and gradually learn the ropes.

Also, Blue Water Hunter in Santa Barbara organizes occasional boat trips for freediver spearfishers. This Friday I believe they're scheduled to go to Santa Rosa/Gull Isle on the Peace out of Ventura. They have a couple of trips to Cortez Bank planned in September.

If you really want to develop world-class apnea (breath-holding), Kirk Krack, the coach of the Canadian national team, runs clinics at various locations described on his web site at . For example his people do classes twice a year in Long Beach. There's a two-day basic freediving class, or a four-day advanced class if you've developed a bit of skill (you have to be able to hold your breath on a couch for 1 minute, swim horizontally underwater with fins holding breath for 75 feet, descend on a breath-hold to 33 feet with fins).

Also, Pipin Ferreras, a Cuban-born freediver who has set many world records, has been trying to get an international organization going for freediver training. I believe all of their training is currently in Florida, though this may change. The organization is called the International Association of Freedivers, and their web site is at .

Personally I just like cruising in kelp beds and along rocky reefs in about 25 feet of water, descending for a half minute at a time to shoot pictures. I'd like to get my breath-hold up to 45 seconds, or maybe a minute max, but I don't want to push it much beyond that due to risks of shallow water blackout, the main risk for freedivers. I'm doing a lot of beach and boat freediving this summer and would be happy to get out with anyone if this kind of profile sounds interesting.

For other web sites, check out:

Hope this helps.

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