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