I never knew about free diving until I was introduced to it just three weeks ago as of writing. It was sure fun to have learned a new sport to enjoy a lot. However, free diving involves multiples of discipline, making it not favorable for everyone.
Some say that it’s an extremely dangerous sport. But, as the senior members of the group I’ve recently joined would say, it’s a meditative and a relaxing sport. Thus, it should be enjoyed more than feared. I couldn’t agree more because the beauty of the underwater has always stunned me. And to me, it’s more than enough reason to learn this whole free diving thing. But then again, I have to reiterate the fact that free diving is still insanely dangerous. Drowning is a high risk. Also, there are others that would relatively cause more danger like experiences of tremendous pressure on the lungs as divers descend, “shallow-water blackout”, lose consciousness during ascent, and/or worse, dying during free dive. But, these negative implications of free diving can only happen when the proper protocol in doing so is deviated or abused. As I’ve said, free diving involves multiples of discipline. Thus, it should be followed to avoid unnecessary accidents.
The following are some of the things I learned from Sir Bart and Sir Ritche during my first free diving session with them:
1. Don’t dive alone.
These free divers reiterated to always dive with a buddy. This is one basic rule of free diving that shouldn’t be compromised. Because the sport is prone to blackouts, it is therefore important to be within an arms-reach of your buddy. This will aid applications of easy saving protocols when necessary.
2. “One buddy up, one buddy down.”
When diving, there should be someone at the surface to ensure that all other divers who descent surfaces safely. This can be be done alternately. It is SOP to be prepared at all times and help a buddy as the need arises. We had a case similar to this during our last dive. One free diver cut short on breath. She was able to ascent safely. But, she has already drank a material amount of water and no one was anywhere near her. It took a matter of few seconds to a minute to get her out of the water and that’s where the crucial part is. A case in point, upon surfacing, a diver must breathe. When a breath is taken, the air must travel from the mouth, transferred to the blood, pumped to the heart, and sent to the brain. It is a process that could take 30 seconds to complete. Thus, it is important that upon surfacing, someone should watch a diver breathing back properly, if not, to apply saving protocols right away.
3. Don’t hyperventilate.
No deeper or faster breathing. This can lead to blackouts without warning. As taught, 2-3 slow deep breaths is enough preparation before descent.
4. Dive within your limits. Do not push it without proper education.
Free diving is way more complicated than scuba diving. The fact that you decide on your own limits means that you are involved to a higher degree of discipline that only you can make or break. I’d call this a “safety first” tip. If I feel that my eardrums hurt, I don’t push forward. I ascend right away no matter how envious I am of other free divers who really can manage to stay long in the deep. As Sir Bart would say it, free dive is not about the depths, it’s about glorious meditation down under with comfort and safety intertwined.
Herbert Nitsch, an Austrian free diver, holds the current free diving world record. He was tagged as “the deepest man on earth”, when he set a world record in the “No Limits” discipline at the depth of 214 meters. I’d say that his breathing and self-control is ridiculously unbelievable. However, I don’t wish to come any near the amazing man’s skills. But, I really would love to hone my skills in this new sport as enjoying the plunge with a school of fish and a scenic view of the marine life is just surreal. Also, I believe that learning anything new once in a while is beneficial in anyone’s whole being too, especially for us who has been working really hard 9-5, week by week. I’m saying that if we can’t travel to unwind, then why don’t we try to do something we’ve never tried before. Not only will you learn more with less effort, you might even find yourself making more connections. The same way you might find yourself teaching others, just like how it was with the members of Dive Ta Bai – Davao free divers group. Too lucky to have joined and been taught by them for free. Yes, FREE! I find it even amusing to have met these patient, welcoming, and generous free divers. Indeed, learning opportunities can happen anywhere and at any time if you allow yourself to come out and be open to get involved.
Lots to learn. But, cheers to this whole new experience. I am only looking forward to my next dive session. Have to gain a steady progress in terms of proper breathing, equalization, and more. Thus, see you all in the blue!