Freediving: Is it an art or a sport?
Probably the most iconic item I use is the long fins or monofins that usually single you out as a freediver rather than a scubie. While monofins are great and people get to try them out on our courses, I find them restrictive for Irish waters. It can be hard to turn with them and they drag in the kelp and seaweed a lot. They are more efficient, however and all the record holders use monofins rather than the traditional long Bi-fins.
In addition to fins, however, I also use a low volume mask. Because I only have the air in my lungs, I canâ€™t use a lot of it to equalise my mask on the descent. Therefore, a mask with a smaller volume is easier to use than a scuba mask. A scuba mask is fine for 10-15 metres, but after that the volume becomes an issue.
The snorkel I use is a simple soft rubber one with a large bore to get as much air in and out of my lungs as I can. I avoid wave and purge chambers as they create a lot of drag on the descent and ascent. Once you dive, always remove the snorkel from your mouth. If you resurface and are close to your limit, that final push to expel the water from the snorkel may cause you to blackout and also allow water to enter the lungs, not a good thing.
Leave it out, get your breath back and then use it again on the surface. Any suit is fine for starting off with, but as you get more into the sport you can acquire specific suits that are more flexible and warmer than surfing suits. Because these suits use open cell neoprene, you need to lube them up to slide in and out of them - always a good conversation opener in any niteclub.
Lastly, I use a rubber weight belt worn on my hips rather than a nylon one around my waist. The reason for this is to allow my belly move in and out while breathing and as I dive down head first the rubber belt stays put, while a nylon belt can easily slip when the suit compresses and move around or slide up to your shoulders.
Getting to know the ocean
Like any sport, we have our own jargon and to overhear two freedivers speaking of their contractions, their neti pots for the sinuses and whether they pack or do negative exhales can be confusing, but itâ€™s a great sport and open to everyone, even if you just want to stay on the surface and look around.
Once you build up your aquacity and are relaxed in the water, you get to know different spots and how they react to the tides and the weather. A good site I use is www.windguru.com for swell and wind predictions and a local set of tide tables or look up easytide for your area.
I have dived in the Mediterranean, the Red Sea, quarries and lakes and still love diving my local green waters of the Atlantic. Sure, the visibility can be terrible at times as can the weather, but itâ€™s my Ocean and is often full of surprises - you just need to search them out a little more.
For more information send me a mail at email@example.com, log on to our site at www.freediveireland.com or look us up on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/FreediveIreland
Enjoy the Ocean and take care of it.