One breath. Two lungs. The ability to dive hundreds of feet underwater.
No, we’re not talking about mythical mermaids and men. We’re talking about a new breed of athlete - the freediver. If you’re a spearfisher who wants to get to the top of their game, this blue water sport could soon become your new best mate. Why? Because when it comes to spearing fish, your lungs are a deadly weapon.
Shunning the kit
When it comes to blending in to the marine ecosystem, freediving is a fool proof disguise. As a certified PADI scuba diver and SSI freediver, I can categorically testify that this theory’s true. If you want to see more fish, ditch the kit. Rather than a foreign being burdened with tanks, tubes burgeoning bubbles, our scaly mates will see you as more of a dolphin, shark or turtle. Gliding through the water with nothing but fins and a mask, you’re far less threatening than your scuba diving counterparts.
You might’ve gathered than when it comes to get-up, I’m a bit of an anti-scuba advocate. When you’re spearfishing you’ve got to be quick, and the bulk of a tank, BCD and all the rest just doesn’t align with the need for speed. When it’s just you and your lungs, you’re free, flexible and above all, fast.
Focus the mind
Even the most spiritually skeptical among us can’t deny that freediving comes with an element of zen. It’s just you, the ocean, and the sound of your heartbeat. And ideally the occasional flicker of a fish’s tail. It’s a frank form of meditation, and at the very least will help you connect with the ocean, its marine life and your presence as a hunter.
So how can you master the art of one breath, deep sea dives?
The first rule of freediving (as stressed by every teacher I’ve ever had in my three years of engaging in the sport) is never dive alone. Unless you’ve got a death wish, it’s radically important that you always dive with a buddy. Why? Even though freediving is considered a safe sport, there’s a very real risk of shallow water black outs. Get ready for a little technical mumbo jumbo here, but listen up as it’s life or death.
When you descend on a single breath dive you may not always feel the urge to breathe, even if your body needs oxygen. As you rise to the surface and hit the 16 feet deep mark, you may lose consciousness as a result of cerebral hypoxia. This is basically a side effect of low oxygen to the brain. Thankfully, our mammalian dive reflex (MDR) kicks in which triggers a laryngospasm (pronounced: luh-RING-go-spaz-um). In a split second, the vocal cords undergo a lighting fast spasm that temporarily seals the airways, and prevents water from flowing into the lungs. Is Mother Nature a genius or what?
Then it’s up to your buddy to bring it home and save your ass. They’ll dive down to meet your unconscious self, bring you to the surface and splash cold water on your face. This re-stimulates your MDR and helps your body override basic homeostatic reflexes. In a bid to adjust to cold-water immersion your body will slow the heart rate and decrease oxygen demand. This causes capillaries in the hands and feet to tighten, which squeezes blood to the core of the brain and body. And just like that, you’re awake.
Becoming a human turtle
Now you know the dangers, the fun stuff can kick off. Freediving is taught across the globe, by both PADI and SSI. There’s no real difference between the two, and often it just depends on where you are, and what’s available. Kick things off with Level 1, where you’ll be given a run-down of the basics, and reach depths of up to 20 metres. This one’s ideal for shallow reef spearfishing. Level 2 takes things further with the deep peace of a freefall, longer breath holds, advanced equalization techniques and 33 metres under your belt. Feeling confident? Sign up for the apex of freediving training, aka Level 3. Diving to depths well below the residual volume of the lungs, this specialist course will take you to 40 metres, and beyond.
Want first hand insight into how freediving can help you be the best spearfisherman or woman you can be? Schools like Freedive Gili even offer spearfishing specific training that focuses on refining freediving schools in a spearfishing context.
Of course if you’re running your own trade or field services business and you don't have your admin under control then having the time to go Freediving or Fishing might be a bit of a stretch. If you need some help with that then look us up at www.tradifyhq.com.
This article was written for us by a friend of ours as we thought some of you might find it interesting. Feel free to leave a comment below or on our facebook page if you have any feedback on what you like to read while you’re on the go.