Freediving. It is all about safety

Freediving course
Freediving course

Recently I found an article on the Internet describing  free diving as a super extreme and deadly activity. It said that people dying often during free diving . Is it true? Is it really that extreme and chances of an accident really high?

First, let’s divide freedivers into two types; competitive and recreational. The first group usually serious sportsmen with high determination to push their limits as much as possible. They free dive to win and to be champions at least on a National scene. High chances are that these guys know everything about safety. And even more – despite the fact that hundreds of people compete every year, serious accidents happen quiet rarely (one fatal accident during international competition). The main reason is that these guys KNOW what they are doing and the safety is well organised by professionals.

Recreational free divers. Who are they? Simple. Every one who makes a deep breath, holds it and submerged his face into the water for whatever reason IS a free diver. So, they SHOULD follow safety rules:

  • never free dive alone
  • never do hyperventilation
  • never push your limit to hard
  • never push your limits without an experienced buddy
  • never do free diving after scuba diving
  • never be over-weight
  • use “one up – one down” system
  • don’t hesitate to postpone your dive/training if you are not feeling well

A little bit more about main the principles…

1. Never free dive alone. If you ask your grandma to keep an eye on you while you do static apnea training – IT DOESN’T count. Only those who have proper training and knowledge can do safety for you. So encourage your training buddy to take a free diving course as well. Make sure that both of you know how to do it. Practice safety scenarios on a regular basis.

2. Never hyperventilate. You have already learned about disadvantages of hyperventilation in your free diving courses. Let me remind you about the main point – it will reduce level of CO2 which put you in a greater risk of LMC/BO/SWO!! Please, don’t do it.

3. Never push your limits to hard/without experience buddy. First of all, why do you want to progress so fast? To impress someone? To become World Champion? Because of your EGO? Give your buddy time to adopt and you will be rewarded with constant progress! For example. You have max 3 min. On your next try are you going to try 3.05-3.10 or 4 minutes? The first choice is conservative, but it is also safer approach. Let’s have a look what can possible happen when you do freediving training ?

  • LMC (“Samba”) or loss motor control. This happens when you push your limits too much in a confined or open water training/maximum attempt. Partial pressure of O2 in your blood drops (less than 0.16) and your brain couldn’t control your movement any more. In a worse case scenario you can fall into the water which can create the possibility of drowning. If it happens with your buddy, grab him and make sure that his head is above the water. After proper recovery breathing, symptoms should disappear within several seconds. But keep an eye on your partner at least 20-30 seconds. Finish training session! How to avoid. Avoid hyperventilation. Be conservative with you progress. Slow progress is better than quick and unsafe!
  • BO. Black out. Partial pressure even low than in LMC (less than 0.1) and your brain will simply switch off your body. This can happen after LMC if you are not able to do recovery breathing. Keep air ways open (head above the water). Tap the check area, blow air across the face, instruct free diver to breath by command “breath”. If after several seconds he is still unconscious, do rescue breathes and bring diver out of water. Provide O2. Finish training session. Be conservative with your progress and never hyperventilating. 
  • SWO. Shallow water black out. This only happens during open water session when free diver ascending from the depth. There is partial pressure drop during ascent where divers can suddenly loose conscious without any symptoms on the last meters before the surface. Bring him to the surface. Keep air ways open (head above the water). Tap the check area, blow air across the face, instruct free diver to breath by command “breath”. If after several seconds he is still unconscious, do rescue breathes and bring diver out of water. Provide O2  Finish training session. Avoid this by never hyperventilating, never being over-weight, and being conservative with depth progress. Have enough time to recover after your last dive.

At the end. As far as you can see all problems can be avoided and solved, if you free dive with experienced buddy and follow simple rules. Or they can become dead serious if you are free diving/training on your own and rushing for meters/minutes. It is up to you. But even if you like this kind of unnecessary risk, keep in mind that you compromise the whole free diving community. So, please, be safe! If you have any question about safety in freediving, don’t hesitate to ask your free diving instructor. Or ask here 🙂