Scuba diving is often the first thing that comes to mind when you think about venturing the ocean’s depths. But all around the world, people practice freediving, a more natural experience unaffected by the use of equipment.
Starting your freediving career doesn’t require a significant investment in equipment, an attractive aspect of this particular sport. That said, you still need to think about your safety. Here’s what you need to know.
1. Use the Buddy System
It might seem obvious, but freediving without a partner is irresponsible and risky. A ruptured eardrum while diving can lead to extreme vertigo, rendering you helpless and likely to drown. Always have another diver of comparable skill with you who knows CPR and rescue techniques – someone you trust to help you in a crisis.
2. Never Leave the Line
Here’s another no-brainer: Going off-course is a recipe for disaster. You need to have the line there to guide you, so your partner can locate you in case of an emergency. Under no circumstance should you move away from the line and your planned descent route. Doing so can lead to serious issues and fatal accidents.
3. Have a Plan
Before you dive, make sure everyone in your party has a clear understanding of the day’s dive plan. Communicate to your partner(s) your dive itinerary, including any warm-ups and deep dives. Understand the weather conditions and visibility, and have a plan in case of an emergency.
Preparing yourself for the dive is the first step toward a successful excursion. In short, you can’t cut corners when you’re engaging in an extreme sport like freediving.
4. Use Correct Weighting
Overweighting yourself can lead to perilous circumstances, and you should never do it. It’s a good rule to weight yourself for neutral buoyancy at 15 meters. Use a weighting system you can quickly release in an emergency, such as the popular rubber weight belts many freedivers choose.
5. Use Safe Transportation
Freediving might be a minimalist sport when you’re beneath the surface, but how you get there isn’t subject to any rules or pretenses. Many freedivers prefer to use a personal watercraft or jet ski to get around. These crafts are maneuverable, quick and the right size to haul just your dive gear.
If you do use a boat or other watercraft, make sure you know how to safely operate it. In 2017, 18% of all boating injuries involved a personal watercraft. It isn’t as simple as firing up the engine and shooting off to your destination. There’s a lot involved you need to keep in mind when operating a boat.
6. Remove Your Snorkel From Your Mouth
You should only use the snorkel before you dive, on the surface of the water. Once you prepare to dive, remove it. Keeping your snorkel in can lead to pressurization complications. Attempting to clear it after you’ve been at depth will almost certainly cause a shallow water blackout.
7. Never Freedive After Scuba Diving
The presence of nitrogen in your blood can lead to complications when you freedive, so it’s essential to allow enough time for your system to clear before attempting anything. A good rule is to allow at least 12 hours, so give it a full day before you decide to get back in the water.
Don’t Push Yourself Beyond Your Limits
Freediving can be a lot of fun, but it can also be dangerous. Remember to always stay humble when freediving. Pushing yourself beyond your limits can have severe consequences in this sport. Enjoy yourself and hold your buddies to the same high safety standards you use.