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Surviving the Airport With Your Freediving Gear


Freediving Instructor Mark WallersteinBy Mark Wallerstein


Traveling nowadays is difficult, and it only looks to be getting worse, especially with increasing baggage fees.  Unfortunately when we, as freedivers, are traveling we don't just pack clothes, towels, and sunscreen. We bring our freediving fins, masks, snorkels, freediving wetsuits, cameras, spearguns.... All of which are usually large, expensive, fragile, or all of the above. And it's no secret the ground crew don't exactly handle luggage "delicately". Lucky for us there are a few trade secrets that help make transit a whole lot easier, protect your gear, and possibly start some interesting conversations.

First let's start with your freediving fins. Your fins are usually going to be one of your largest pieces of equipment, and sometimes one of the most fragile, especially if you have carbon fiber freediving blades. The last place you want those blades to sit is in a bent bag on the tarmac in 108 degrees for 4 hours. Luckily there is a very easy solution that will often bring some entertainment and good conversations. All you need is about 2 feet of line and an always useful carabiner. After putting a loop on both ends of the line, feed one through the heel of the pocket and out the toe of one fin, then through the toe and out the heel of the other. Link it with the carabiner and attach it to your backpack strap and let your fins dangle free. Those with removable carbon blades can simply pop out the blades, wrap them in some bubble wrap and carry them on; alternatively if you have more durable plastic or fiberglass fins simply put them inside a hard case bag for checked baggage. As for the carry-on, for all the traveling that I have done, this has never been seen as a second bag, or any added expense. You certainly draw attention from onlookers as you walk through the airport with three foot fins dangling by your side, and this is not a bad thing. In fact, its is a great way to start conversations with random people about this amazing sport of freediving. On almost any plane I have been on the fins fit perfectly flat in the over head and you can put your bag on top to keep it safe, and if not, you can always ask the crew if they can hang them in their personal baggage area.Freediving Instructors International Staff & Crew at Prague Airport

Next let's move onto some of the smaller items. If you have a Sphera freediving mask the last thing you're going to do is toss it into a bag and say 'good to go'. You're going to put that mask into its big case and then gently place it into a bag and hope it's not going to get scratched or crushed on the flight. One little trade secret to save some space in your bag, and add even more protection to the mask, is to wrap it in clothes. If you wrap it in a t-shirt and then put it in the case you have saved space in the box and also completely padded the mask so whatever happens your mask will be protected. Same goes for a camera. Using your clothes as padding will immobilize it, protect it, and save valuable space.

One more piece of equipment that can be considerably hard to travel with, or if it's done right can actually make life easier is the speargun. Some of the biggest problems with traveling with a speargun is its size, unchangeable shape, and the fact that the spear can bend so easily, and depending on where you traveling cannot be replaced. Most people buy dedicated spearfishing/speargun bags, pack it and hope for the best. This is not bad; however certain things can be done to add more protection. Ideally you want your gun to be padded so if your bag gets banged around the speargun won't break. You also want the spear to have as much support as possible to avoid being bent. One way to help this situation is to zip tie the spear to the outside of your gun, and then roll it in some of your clothes (like rolling up a rug) and slide it into the bag. This will give some protection and stability. Even better would be to head to your local hardware store and buy a stretch of PVC piping that you can put the spears in and then zip tie it to your gun. This will ensure that your shafts don't get bent. The ideal storage for your speargun and clothes isn't even sold as a dive bag. One of the best bags you can get is actually a snowboard/sport hard case. A snowboard case is made of hard plastic that can take a beating, it can usually change lengths (great if you're traveling with both reef and blue water guns), and is wide. You can put multiple spearguns, shafts, and fit a good amount of clothes and freediving equipment in these cases, and they offer the most protection. The only down side to this bag is that usually you need to pay a little extra for it when checking in. However, if you pack right, and fit your clothes in it as well, it will keep everything safe and could narrow it down so you only travel with 1 bag. A bonus is that because it's odd shape and having to be checked as a special item it usually comes off the plane first, getting you into that beautiful blue water even quicker.


Mark Wallerstein

Mark Wallerstein divides his time between managing the office at FII Headquarters in Fort Lauderdale and teaching FII freediving courses throughout the South Florida region. He is currently training with Martin Stepanek for his Instructor Trainer certification and his favourite freedivng and spearfishing location is Hawaii.  A passionate outdoorsman, Mark loves nothing more than camping and being at the helm of a good Southern style BBQ. View Mark's upcoming FII freediving course schedule here.


5 Tips for Equalizing


FII Freediving Instructor Brandon Gross. Take a freediving course with Brandon in San Diego!By Brandon Gross

FII is an amazing freediving education program that teaches how to enjoy the underwater world with more comfort and safety. Last year I had the pleasure of teaching over 100 people how to freedive, many of them reaching course maximums diving 20 meters and holding their breath for 3 minutes. The greatest limiting factor to hitting course maximums (Note: It is not required to hit course maximums for certificiation) was not breath-hold, it was equalization of the ears.

There are several factors in equalizing while freediving that makes it difficult. The first and most significant is the fact that you are head down. The air that you use to equalize will want to go to the highest point, your lungs, away from your ears. While I can't help with the head down position while descending, there are five simple tips to help freedivers equalize their ears, some in the water and some out.

1. Hydrate- If we are well hydrated, our mucous is thinner making it less sticky. This allows the Eustachian tubes the ability to let air pass through with less chance of blockage.

2. Head Position- Make sure that your head is in a neutral position. Many untrained divers want to look toward the bottom, stretching out  and creasing the Eustachian tube. This can make a substantial difference in the ability to equalize. During your FII freedive course we will show the correct body position for effective freediving.

3. Equalize Often- Many freedivers wait until they feel discomfort to equalize and that is often too late. Always pre-equalize before the freedive and equalize before you feel discomfort. My habit is that every time my right leg kicks forward, I equalize. Develop a good habit of equalizing early and often. NEVER TRY TO PUSH PAST DISCOMFORT OR PAIN. Doing so can cause injury.DOC's Pro Plugs - vented for freediving

4. Nasal Irrigation- Persons that suffer from respiratory congestion due to cold or allergies may benefit from passive nasal irrigation or Neti. When used as directed, passive saline irrigation of the nasal passages and sinuses can offer a great deal of relief from allergies and cold symptoms.

5. Ear Plugs (cold water)- Using vented earplugs like Doc's Pro Plugs or JBL Hydroseals can be very effective in helping to equalize in cold water. These earplugs allow a small amount of water to enter the ear canal and trap it there allowing your body heat to warm it up. The small hole venting the earplugs does not allow cold water to flush in and out of the ear canal. Equalizing with body temperature water against your eardrum is much easier in cold water.

Application of all of the hints and suggestions above can make a freedive much easier and enjoyable. Many of my students have benefited greatly by using these suggestions and they are all incorporated into my personal dive routine.

None of the above information is meant to take the place of medical advice. It is recommended that if you have chronic equalization problems, visit your personal physician or ENT. Always take a freediving course before participating in any breath-hold activities.


Brandon Gross

Brandon Gross is a fulltime FII Freediving Instructor offering regular, monthly courses out of San Diego. He also travels to teach courses for dive shops and clubs in Texas. Brandon is sponsored by Beuchat Spearfishing  Check out Brandon's upcoming FII freediving course schedule here.



Freedive Training for the Busy Professional: Make the most of your workday!


Take a freediving course with Bo Ong! FII Freediving Instructors available worldwide. Find out more on breathhold training at By Sobonna Ong


As a busy office-bound professional, I have the challenge of juggling work and other obligations along with my freediving passion. With limited time, I have to make every training session count! While the topic of training efficiency is very broad, I'll share with you some personal tips that I incorporate into my typical workday.



The corporate environment is far from relaxing! Navigating the gauntlet of deadlines and office politics can build up stress which fuels muscular tension and inhibits your full potential. Since tense muscles consume more oxygen than relaxed muscles, it's important to calm down! Simply recognizing that you are tense is a huge step in self-awareness and allows you to view the situation from a different perspective. The deep diaphragmatic breathing well known in the freediver's repertoire is also a powerful stress reducer – Make use of it... and ignore your coworkers if they look at you funny!



A flexible body will greatly improve your freediving. As I mentioned before, tense muscles consume more oxygen, which in turn shortens your bottom time. Flexibility reduces muscular tension. How? Achieving a hydro-dynamically correct arms-over-head position, for example, takes much more effort for an-inflexible diver. Less flexible individuals have to use extra strength just to keep their arms in the correct position. This results in more oxygen consumption. My solution? Stretching break! People take smoking breaks all the time. I choose stretching breaks and focus heavily on the postural muscles that suffer greatly from prolonged sitting. Perform stretching in unison with the aforementioned diaphragmatic breathing for an even more effective stretch! During the FII Level 3 freediving course you'll learn freedive specific stretches.



Fitness is an important component to freediving. Ideally, I would freedive everyday, but since I do not have that option,Apnea training for office professionals! Read more on freediving training at I take advantage of every opportunity to squeeze in a little physical activity. At the office, I accomplished this by taking the stairs as often as possible. Taking the stairs instead of the elevator is becoming more of the norm this day and age. You can take this a step further by sprinting! Sprinting quickly puts you into a hypoxic state and if you have a buddy, you can take this yet even further. I sprint up multiple flights of stairs while holding my breath - The looks on your coworker's faces are only temporary, but the freediving benefits you'll reap during your daily grind are priceless!



Your day at the office does not have to be a waste of time...from a freediving perspective, that is. The tips I mentioned will help make your professional day more interesting at the least. You may also thwart some of the damaging effects of sitting all day and you may even improve your freediving! In addition I have noticed that a relaxed body and mind often equates to an increase in my office productivity. So there is the possibility of getting double the benefits!


Happy diving,




Sobonna Ong

Sobonna Ong (Bo) is an FII Freediving Instructor based in Alexandria Virginia. He offers FII freediving courses in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area and has a passion for brewing Kombucha!  See the following link for upcoming freediving courses:




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