I am now able to teach the PADI advanced freediver course. This is very exciting as now my students can go down to 24 meters and I will be able to train people to be able to dive with me and be my training buddies. Freediving is so new here in India that it was very difficult to freedive as most of the time there was no one to be my safety! Now as the number of freedivers is increasing and as the interest in freediving is growing, this will become less of a problem. 2018 has been a great year and a journey for me. I am very grateful to be able to teach freediving and develop this wonderful sport here in Auroville, India. On a different note, I also want to develop this website into a resource for freedivers. I have been collecting useful information that I have been posting in the “resources” section. Today I started a freediving FAQ!
Freedive Freediver Freediving
My first foray into freediving started off with a surprise. It began with me attempting to swim down towards the ocean floor which was at a depth of 17 meters whilst holding my breath. I did not manage to go past 5 meters before as I was stopped by a strong pressure and alarming discomfort in the chest and throat. Previously I had gone down to 32 meters whilst scuba diving without a problem, so I was shocked that after less than 6 meters I had to stop and turn back.
I was not put off by this first experience, I was determined to become a freediver and later a freediving instructor. It did put on the breaks though. In my mind, I had made the calculation that going down to 32 meters in scuba gear was a piece of cake, so I should be able to hit 40 meters freediving in no time! This naive calculation did not take into account that in freediving you need to adapt to depth and pressure as well as to higher levels of CO2 and lower levels O2.
When you scuba dive you carry with you compressed air, the fact that the air is compressed means that as you dive down your lungs keep filling and emptying with larger and larger quantities of compressed gas, but when you freedive your lungs and the gasses in them just keep shrinking!. As a freediver your lungs are already half their size when you reach 10 meters of depth and they keep shrinking as you go deeper until you reach residual volume and they can shrink no more. At that point, your body kicks into gear an ancient survival mechanism that has been dormant in us for eons. This is has been termed the mammalian dive reflex, this is where the lungs get filled with blood among other things, this reflex is also referred called the blood shift.
Not even seventy years ago the theoretical depth for freediving was calculated to be around 50 meters by the world’s leading physiologists. It was thought that if you went beyond that depth the lungs would get crushed resulting in certain death, at the time it was not considered possible that the mammalian dive reflex could be present in humans. It is thanks to pioneers like Bob Croft, Enzo Maiorca and Jaques Mayol that depths going well beyond 100 meters have been achieved. They were warned not to attempt going deeper and stay within “safe” depths, but they kept going and pushed the physiological limits. Jaques Mayol was convinced that we still retained in us the capabilities from our marine ancestry and he was right. It is thanks to their spirit of adventure and love of science that we know today so much more about the effects of depth, and apnea on the human body.
There were records of people going to depths deeper than 50 meters, but they were discounted as improbable and exaggerated. But Jaques Mayol in his book Homo Delphinus narrates a story of a Greek sponge diver named Haggi Statti who dove down to 80 meters to retrieve the anchor of an Italian military ship the Regina Margherita, the Regina Margherita was paying a courtesy visit to Greece and managed to lose its anchor in the bay of Pigadia in the island of Karpathos. It was there that the services of the sponge diver Haggi Statti were retained to dive down to improbable depths to retrieve it, and retrieve it he did!
Even to this day, there are populations around the world that dive down deep every day as a means of survival. One such group are known in Japan as the ama. This group of divers consists only of women that have been traditionally diving since more than 2000 years according to Japanese tradition. Jaques Mayol was fascinated by the ama and went to Japan to spend time with them and learn from them. Another group of individuals are known generically as the sea gypsies. They exist in Myanmar, Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand and are known as the Sama-Bajau, but also are known under different names. There is a documentary on Netflix called Jago: A life underwater that depicts the life of Indonesia’s Bajau. There have been several studies conducted on the Bajau and it has been found that their eyesight has adapted to seeing underwater. They also have a 50% larger spleen which acts a reservoir of fresh red blood cells to allow them to stay longer underwater.
Indians have also been freediving for centuries for pearls in the Palk Bay on the east coast of India. To this day there are still some fishing villages in Tamil Nadu that have freedivers that go out and freedive in the Palk Bay for valuable shells as pearls are no longer found since decades.
It is only now that people all over the world are discovering freediving and freediving schools and centers are opening up to teach this in a safe and controlled way. Freediving is no longer reserved for isolated populations or elite athletes such as Jaques Mayol and his peers. You can now search online for a freediving course and if you are lucky you will not have to travel far to be able to start off your journey freediving.
I kept freediving to allow my body to get adapted to depths more than 5 meters and over time with the help of flexibility exercises, CO2 tables to increase my tolerance to CO2 and Dynamic tables in a pool to also increase my CO2 tolerance as well as low levels of O2, I managed to dive well past 20 meters comfortably. This is to say that you need to allow the body time to adapt so that you can safely and comfortably dive. This will make your future dives comfortable and enjoyable and allow you to enjoy the ocean and other water bodies all with a single breath! I took all the courses that I could take and finally did a freediver instructor training course with PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors). This was with the goal of opening India’s first freediving school, which is now India’s first PADI freediver center.
Freediving as a sport is very misunderstood and thought to be very dangerous. This is because many people practice freediving without knowing that it can be fatal to do so without the knowledge that you should never dive alone, and always follow the correct procedures and take all the safety precautions needed. These unsafe practices of freediving have led to fatalities, but if you follow ass the procedures and safety guidelines you will dive safely and avoid getting yourself into a life-threatening situation. Nevertheless we as freedivers enter an environment where we cannot survive beyond a few minutes, and there will always be some risk involved with entering the aquatic world that we have left millions of years ago and are now momentarily re-entering for a few seconds or minutes to experience something that we cannot on the safety of land.
For me, that risk has been worth it and I really enjoy freediving and teaching people to freedive. The ocean where I live is rough and shallow and one needs to go out very far with a boat to freedive at a decent depth, so instead I freedive in an abandoned flooded granite quarry. I consider myself fortunate to have access to such a water body. If you want to learn freediving you can start out with a PADI basic freediver course or a PADI freediver course which will give you all the information you need to start out freediving safely. If you do decide to learn freediving I hope that you have access to freediving buddies, a pool and a water body to freedive in. I hope that you enjoyed reading this blog post which is an introduction to my passion, Freediving!
Videos of online webinars explaining freediving principles
Youtube Webinars on Freediving by Aharon Solomons
I started watching Aharon’s webinars on Youtube and cannot believe that they only have 200-3000 views after 5 years of being online. I guess that there are not too many people looking for Freediving content in general, so I share them with you. If you want to see beforehand what each webinar talks about you can get that information Here.
Webinar on Freediving #1
Webinar on Freediving #2
Webinar on Freediving #3
Webinar on Freediving #4
Webinar on Freediving #5
Webinar on Freediving #6
Webinar on Freediving #7
Webinar on Freediving #8 (on Mental Training)
Webinar on Freediving #9 (on equalization)
Webinar on Freediving #10
Webinar on Freediving #11
Webinar on Freediving #12
Webinar on Freediving #13
Webinar on Freediving #14
Webinar on Freediving #15
Webinar on Freediving #16
Webinar on Freediving 2016 Q&A
Epic Freediving School in south India
The school is situated in near Pondicherry in the near the enclave of Kalapet. We are lucky to have many deep abandoned granite quarries (lakes) into which we can freedive.
The advantage is that we can freedive all year round at the quarry. The water is calm and there is no chance of getting seasick from a boat ride or from the swell of waves.
To get an idea of what it looks like to freedive in the quarry have a look at the Instagram feed of the school. You can see it here.
For the time being I do not offer the possibility to freedive in the ocean.
PADI Freediver Course
To enrol in a PADI Freediver course you must be at least 15 years old. You will need to demonstrate that you can swim 200 meters (any stroke) or 300 meters with mask, fins and snorkel.
Paperwork: Complete the before beginning the course PADI medical form, the PADI liability release and the PADI Statement of Understanding
Freediving is special, it requires discipline and control. If you’ve always wanted to enter the underwater world quietly, on your own terms, staying as long as your breath allows, then freediving is definitely for you. Taking the PADI Freediver course is your first step in the journey toward discovering yourself.
During the PADI free diver course with us at Epic Freediving you will learn different breathing techniques, safety procedures and efficient fining techniques, which will give you the tools to attempt to dive down to 10 meters and hold your breath for 90 seconds.
The course will take place in a classroom, a pool and for the open water, a granite quarry. The visibility at the quarry is not great, it goes from 2-4 meters max depending on the time of year. Diving below eight meters it gets very dark and this can be challenging, but it does teach you to master remaining calm and focused. During the hot months April-August there is a thermocline at around 7 meters of depth. The water gets about 1-2 degrees colder when you reach 7 meters. You can now opt to dive in the ocean if you do not want to dive in the quarry. This option will cost more.
The course will be run over 3 half days. Possibility of running it over two days, see below for price difference.
To be able to perform all the drills and tasks you will require coordination and motor skills. If you fail to perform the skills correctly or fail to equalize head down to a minimum depth of 10 meters, we will not be able to certify you. You will need to do more training and when you are ready and manage to attain the targets required by PADI we can certify you.
There is also the option to certify you as a PADI basic freediver if you manage the pool requirements and fail the open water requirements.
You are paying for the training and experience, but not for certification. The certification comes if you manage to pass all the requirements put forth by PADI.
The cost for the course is 30,000 Rs. This includes the use of all the equipment and access to any photos taken during the course. If you want the course to be run over two days it is possible but will cost 33,000 Rs.
What Is Involved
The PADI Freediver course consists of three main phases:
Knowledge Development which can be done online, with the PADI Freediver Touch App. This will give you an understanding of freediving principles through independent study, this is a great way to get started prior to coming to train with Epic Freediving.
Confined Water Sessions to learn breath hold techniques, buddy skills as well as static and dynamic apnea and rescue skills. By the end of the confined water freediving sessions you should be able to do a static apnea of 90 seconds and dynamic apnea of 25 metres/80 feet, usually in a swimming pool that will assist you before you enter the open water.
Open Water Open water sessions at the quarry to practice free immersion and constant weight freedives, plus proper buddy procedures. With the goal of achieving constant weight freedive of at least 10 metres/30 feet.
The Cool Part
Taking the PADI Freediver program is your step towards discovering the underwater world in a whole new way. Beginning with the PADI Freediver certification, you will gain the training and discipline needed to stay safe during breath hold dives.
During this course, you will discover your strengths and limitations.
The Freediving Equipment You Use
In the PADI Freediver course, you learn to use a mask, snorkel, and fins, and may also use a wetsuit and weight belt. Using gear designed specifically for freediving is best, like low volume masks and free diving snorkel. With the Freediver course, we do recommend that you have your own freediving equipment.
The Learning Materials You Will Receive
If you enrol in this course with us at Epic Freediving we will provide you with the PADI Freediver Touch tablet app (for use with a smartphone/tablet). The Touch is an interactive study tool that gives you the background information you need to freedive safely and allows you to study at your own pace.
The PADI Freediver course consists of three main phases:
- Knowledge development about freediving principles through independent study with the PADI Freediver Touch, as well as a classroom session to go over the information.
- Confined water session to learn breath hold techniques and static and dynamic apnea. Goal – static apnea of 90 seconds and dynamic apnea horizontal swim of 25 metres/80 feet. Proper buddy procedures.
- Open water sessions to practice free immersion and constant weight freedives, plus proper buddy procedures. Goal – constant weight freedive of 10 metres/30 feet.
Booking & Cancellation
- 50% Deposit
- Up to 30 days prior to the course the deposit is refundable less PADI registration 5000 rs. fee which is non refundable.
- You may change your booking date 7 days prior to your initial booking date.
- Less than 7 days prior to your initial booking, a new booking and deposit will need to be made.