October 28. 2011
by Mark Wallerstein
The popularity of freediving is continuously growing and at a rather fast rate. It seems like more and more people are trying to find a buddy to be a safety on a float rather than throwing on a tank and going for a “regular” dive. To me, this is amazing. What gets an even bigger smile on my face is the fact that the people looking to go out are not just looking to spearfish anymore. I am seeing people interested in freediving for the marine interaction, training, or simply for a relaxing day. This means one thing and one thing only, the word is spreading.
Freediving is expanding into entire new markets. It was only a week ago that I was helping represent FII at surf expo. In only a period of three days freediving went from the odd cousin sitting in the corner to the new guy at the party where everyone wants to get to know you. Towards the end of the show surfers were coming over to us not only interested in our new Waterman Survival courses (see forums for more information) but also to simply give freediving a chance. They saw the benefits of understanding how to hold your breath if one was to be knocked off a wave and pulled under.
When I talk to people about the benefits of freediving I will often go quickly past the spear fishing aspect. I always start with safety issues because; when people get the freediving itch they can’t help but try even if they haven’t had proper training from a certified instructor, and move onto the health benefits or the marine interaction. It seems to draw in a larger crowd. It shows people that freediving is not only holding your breath and shooting a fish. Freediving has become a lifestyle and a lifestyle improvement. The shear fact that you learn how to breathe properly through a certified class is a step in health improvement. It is also unknown to many that the marine interaction is infinitely better while freediving compared to scuba diving. When freediving, the fish are curious about what you are and will come over to you. They start to feel that you are part of their natural environment and that there is no threat (unless of course you have spear guns, then you’re just a hungry part of the environment).
Above all else I feel the best way to share freediving is to actually have the experiences. I talk about the feeling of floating through the water on a single breath of air watching the sky slowly move past above me, I talk about the relaxation and the feeling of all the tension in my body drifting away with the current. So to all the readers out there, I urge you to do the same. Talk to your friends about your experiences and help those who are interested sign up for a course to become a safer diver. Who knows, maybe they can be that buddy on a day when you’re looking for a relaxing dive through the beautiful water.