Since I started teaching freediving courses in 2004 things have changed a lot on both the national and international freediving scene. More and more people have been introduced to this wonderful sport which, as all freedivers know, involves us both physically and mentally.
Following the first revolutionary teaching methods, created around 1995 to substitute a freediving linked to the concept of a ‘superman’, other teaching establishments and individuals began developing teaching methods which would be accessible to even more people. A further step forward was needed as, after the concept of ‘freediving for super heroes’ there was a greater focus on ‘freediving and wellbeing’, but until that moment this was always linked to an objective of performance; “stay relaxed and you’ll see that you go down along the rope better”. Along these lines many freedivers, attracted by images of divers going deeper, and smiling dolphins, clashed with an idea of a freediving which did not always represent that which they had imagined. It was perhaps still missing something which would include ‘the man in the street’, to interest him in completing a freediving course and instil a passion within him.
During an event I read the slogan ‘It’s not scuba diving, it’s not snorkelling…it’s freediving!’. The image depicted a relaxed freediver a few metres deep surrounded by an incredible blue light. That poster made me think about how today we still need to explain what freediving is. If you say ‘football’ people know what it is, if you say ‘bike’ people imagine a race or cycling, but when you say freediving??? Most people, a hypothetical interviewee, begin to think about big records, about the images which made them dream and at the same time gave them goosebumps …it’s crazy but if we did a survey most people would take us back to 2014 again, to major depth records.
Maybe those in the industry, those who need to spread the word, went wrong somewhere, and regarding myself as one of those I ask myself and try to work out possible motivations and solutions. That which comes to mind as a solution is proposing simple freediving, without depth, time and distance ambitions.
“Freediving measured in sensations and not in metres, where physical and mental relaxation are not a means of arrival at a numerical objective, but a real result, a finish line”.
Freediving which is accessible to everyone who wants to try it and is willing to hold their breath, who wants to feel as light as a butterfly in a sky made of sea. This is what people should think about when asking themselves ‘what is freediving?’. It doesn’t necessarily need to be defined by metres and minutes. Divers should think about how it’s possible to get close to a fish suspended in the current, and possible to glide alongside a rock wall, independent of whether this is at 5, 10 or 30 metres. They should think about the wonder of being in the sea, feeling part of it and feeling relaxed without needing anything else, if not the will to hold your breath.
I think this is what has been catching on in recent times and involving unexpected enthusiasts: recreational freediving. Finally barriers are being broken down which for years have made us involuntarily choose a series of people who, even if they wanted to get close to our submerged world, gave up; sometimes even after having done their first freediving course, something even more significant...they are the people who completed an ‘exam in the sea’ after a winter course in a pool. And this ‘exam’ (the term is already completely out of place) meant 3 or 4 dives almost entirely on the rope: diving down, constant weight, equalization, fin technique. Some definitely continued after this, following the irresistible allure of the deep blue, but how many have left to spend their free time doing something simpler?
As a final thought, I also believe that broadening the pool of potential freedivers, fishing for them in previously unexplored seas (to use an apt metaphor), could also help us to find those who have a passion for times, depths and distances - so therefore the more competitive world - for which I have a great respect, and which would also benefit.