Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
How long can a person hold their breath?
It varies from person to person. But with training it can be improved greatly. I have seen students who can hold their breath for around 40 seconds and after a day of training they have been able to double their breathhold. When I began diving a 45 second breathhold was the best I could do - about a year later I surprised myself with a 3 minute and five second dive. The world record is just short of nine minutes! For freediving you need not hold your breath more than a minute. There are mental and physical methods of extending your breathhold. These are covered in the courses and the mentorship.
How long does it take to learn to hold ones breath?
Again it depends on the person and their physical and mental condition. A phenomenon called the dive reflex exists within all of us - it is a condition of a mental and physical nature where you feel relaxed and at complete ease in the water - it feels as natural as you would on land - you are extroverted, at ease and feel no discomfort. Some people adapt faster than others. Being physically fit definitely helps. Learning by trial and error is very much slower than following a proven method.
How deep can one dive on breathhold?
This ability varies according to you natural ability, the intensity of training and the approach being used. Being pulled down by weights and lifted by airbags makes it possible to go much deeper. Recreational freedivers rarely exceed depths of 20 meters. Shallow diving can be great and there is tremendous fun to be had in water shallower than 10 meters. Presently records are on the order of 180 m.
How safe is freediving?
Many factors influence the safety of freediving. Education increases awareness of risks in any field and of course it is applicable to freediving. If you stay in shallow safe water risks are very few. Deep water far offshore tends to be more risky because of the distance, weather changes and the time it takes to get help if required. Remember that risk is reduced in proportion to your knowledge. Being aware of a risk is the fist step to reducing undesirable incidents. Most people thinks sharks are a great risk - mankind is a much greater risk. In over 1300 dives I have had a number of close encounters and only one really scary one was with a shark. When I think back on the close shaves the following come to mind:
I have on three occasions almost been chopped by a boats propeller.
I have had a small boat fall on me when it flipped in the surf.
I swam into a sharks belly(external contact) and even unknowingly stood on the back of one.
Accidentally shot myself in the hand with a speargun.
Got washed onto the rocks by surf.
Spiked by fish spines.
Been bitten on the lip and hands by small aggressive fish.
The worst injury was jumping off my inflatable and landing on an electrical plug and breaking a bone in my foot.
Image may suffer too - e.g. racing up the beach and falling out of the boat on a packed beach! These are really harsh!
Bluebottle stings! Ouuuuch!
What is shallow water blackout(SWB) and what are my chances of getting it as a novice?
SWB occurs when a diver has exerted himself/herself excessively and on the return there is too little oxygen and too much carbon dioxide in his system and he loses consciousness. It can occur in the last few meters of the dive, on the divers return to the surface. Since the human body converts oxygen to carbon dioxide through energy consumption it figures that for safe diving you should always maintain a reserve of potential energy (breath) by not exerting yourself excessively; or by surfacing well before you are desperate for air.
“A little learning can be dangerous.”
It is very unlikely that a novice will experience SWB as it is normally when a freediver (or spearfisherman) has gained considerable skill to dive deep and dispel the urge to breathe that the risks increase. Divers should know their limits, rather not dive alone and attempt extremes unless appropriate safety measures have been implemented.
Medication and freediving - Can I dive if I am on medication?
Some medications alter heart rates or impair ones judgment. Consult with your physician. If it is not possible to consult a physician then take it easy and reduce exertions to well below what you normally would. Diet formulations that boost the metabolism to make you loose weight tend to increase your heart rate and shortens you breathhold.