How long can you hold your breath? researchers estimate the average is around 30 – 40 seconds depending on fitness.
What would you say if I told you there are people out there who can hold it for over 11 minutes? 11.35 to be exact is the current recognized world record as judged by AIDA the worldwide federation for breath hold diving which includes free diving.
This is achieved with intense training regimes that begin with relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation and diet, what you eat days leading up to your attempt can have a dramatic effect.
Free diving what are the limits?
If you think what is deemed reasonable on recreational scuba dive kit where most scuba divers will not venture past 40 meters, and you take into consideration the effects of pressure and buoyancy.
What is your estimation? possibly 30 metres max?
The Professional freediver will reach depths of 210m and deeper using no-limits diving methods which involves a weighted sled attached to a line, which is then brought back to the surface by inflating lift bags with attached cylinders.
William Trubridge is possibly the most famous professional freediver as each year he smashes through his personal bests and goes beyond what is considered humanly possible reaching depths of 100m with no fins he even swam through the Dean’s Blue Hole Arch in the Bahamas just wearing a pair of trunks and mask!
Each year we seem to learn that you can train your body to survive in the most extreme of situations. Herbert Nitsch “The world’s deepest man” another world champion, has claimed he can break the 300m barrier, we will have to wait and see.
If you wish to know more about the current men and women’s world records please have a look at AIDA site about free diving world records . AIDA International is a non profit organisation that was founded in 1992 to further the development of freediving.
Free diving, what are the practical uses
Spearfishing is probably the most common reason for free diving as it is not particularly safe or effective doing this on scuba. You will often find spear fishermen in the smallest coastal towns all over the world. A great example I saw recently was on the BBC Program Human Planet. They followed a Bajau fisherman who dives down to 20 meters to hunt for fish, which is part of his everyday life and fight for survival.
My free dive experience
My personal reasons for wanting to learn to free dive started with me scuba diving. As I imagine with many people it does. I was doing my Open water diver course. When I had one of my first sessions down at around 15 meters i saw a freediver swim around a wreck and came back up. My instant reaction was amazement. I Instantly knew I wanted to experience that one day.
I continued my scuba courses and logged my dives until I felt comfortable enough to give free diving a try. I decided to go for a free dive course as I understood the risks of throwing yourself below the water with no training. The main benefit of the free diving for myself had to be for the photography. The freedom of movement, lack of equipment and speed I could get from apnea.
Becoming a certified free diver
As I began to find out more information one name kept cropping up in particular, so I had a chat with Steve Millard an AIDA Certified Master Instructor and past captain of the UK Freediving team. I explained why I wanted to become a certified freediver and what I wanted to get from the course.
I already mentioned William Trubridge he is probably one of the most famous free divers out there and he helped the sport become more populair then ever. Have a look at this video where he is free dives the famous Arch in Dahab.
Starting the free dive course
I enrolled on the course and immediately was surprised how much preparation and theory is actually involved. After a few pool sessions I was already feeling a lot more confident that I could reach my targets. Within the first week I had improved my breath hold time from 2 minutes to just over 3 and a half minutes which is now above 4 minutes. Eventually after practicing technique, static apnea and more theory I was ready to be released into Open water.
My first time in Open water was a “breath taking” experience. We began by swimming down to 6 meters to get comfortable, whilst being given advice to improve techniques. After all it was very different from scuba diving. Such things as equalization, finning and pre-dive breathing all came together. After a few more sessions I was comfortable enough to attempt 18 meters.
My first free dive
I began my descent slowly finning down the line taking time to clear my ears. I reached the bottom and paused for a few seconds, in that moment I could hear my own heart beating. The rain hitting the surface of the water before I continued to make my ascent back up to the surface which when you relax and close your eyes is a great feeling.
I completed my AIDA ** Freediver course, and introduced my camera into the mix. That was my main reason to start. I now regularly attend the club diving nights to work on technique, relaxation and most of all because its good fun! We all help and look after each other and make great models for photos. I plan to push my free diving further and develop it as another skill in my underwater adventures. I introduce new people into the idea, and hope they enjoy it as much as I do.
If there is anything you would like to know about free diving (In the UK) please do check the website of free divers UK. You could always leave a comment below.
If you don’t remember anything else, remember this; never freedive alone!
Guest blog written by: Ryan Johnson
For more of my photography work please visit my website
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