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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:



Freediving…. To breathe or not to breathe?


Instructor Errol Putigna. Freediving Courses with FII (Freediving Instructors International). Find more on apnea training at www.freedivinginstructors.comBy Errol Putigna


To be honest, both are correct at the right moments. As freedivers and spearos, we're always looking for different ways to improve our breath-hold. But how often do we seek to be better breathers and to really take advantage of the benefits of proper breathing? I mean, really? We breathe about 30,000 times per day!

I have been doing some research; personal experimentation and I have trained breathing with the top freedivers in the world. I figured since I have to breathe each and every day for mere survival, I might as well get it right. Not only will improved breathing-techniques help you hold your breath longer and improve your bottom time for that mutton snapper swimming just out of the reach of your speargun, it will enhance your life in most ever aspect; from increased energy levels, experience a positive attitude, faster metabolism and even weight control. In combination with spearing and freediving, it will allow you to be in some of the best physical shape of your life!


At one point in time I weighed all time high of 84.5kg (186lbs), which for me at 1.78m (5'10") was quite heavy. I got back into freediving and spearing, took a FII Freediving level 2 class with Martin Stepanek and within 6 months of learning how to breathe properly, proper diet (and I didn't even make an effort to eat better, it was my body simply craving healthy foods and not junk) and the awesome exercise that freediving and spearing provides, I lost 14kg (30lbs) and I've not been able to gain any of it back! Take that Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers!


Some great and easy tips to get you on track is to really make breathing part of your lifestyle; to make it a conscious part of your day and to use it to your benefit through deep, diaphragmatic breathing. It will take you out of the "fight and flight" mode we are in most of our day when we're in the work force and it will bring us to the "rest and digest" mode, which is where our bodies need to be more often. By holding our breath for a short time (no more than 30 seconds out of the water), it will bring us into further relaxation and meditation, which brings additional benefits to our bodies and minds. I take just 2 minutes at night, while lying in bed, to do slow diaphragmatic breathing before I go to bed and I've found that I sleep much better at night. It's that simple!

Professional apnea training with FII (Freediving Instructors International) -

When spearfishing, I will usually do around 5 minutes of relaxed diaphragmatic breathing on the surface and I'll achieve a super relaxed state to be able to start my day of diving out right.

The last thing fishwants to see is a guy/gal all-amped up on adrenaline attacking him! If you're nice and relaxed, you'll have a higher chance that the fish will approachyou. You'll kind of send an "inviting" signal. Through correct breathing, this can all be achieved.


Of course, when we're not diving, yoga is a great way to achieve proper breathing (Yogis have been getting it right for about 3,000 years... they know a thing or two about breathing.). Stretching is also fundamental to truly take advantage of proper breathing (Check out Martin Stepanek's Stretching for Freediving DVD). This will allow all of that wonderful oxygen to get to your muscles and tissues. Make sure you don't just jump into these activities without getting the proper instructor and training.

I hope with these simple tips, I was able to give you the initiative to breathe or not to breathe!


Safe diving!



Errol Putigna

Errol Putigna is an FII Instructor Trainer based in West Palm Beach, Florida. He has been working with 13 Time Freediving World Record Holder & FII's Founder, Martin Stepanek since 2008 and offers private & public FII freediving courses throughout South Florida & Canary Islands.  Click here to view Errol's course listings.




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