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Freediving bans have started, help!

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
It can take a long time to get an up-to-date response or contact with relevant users.


Well-Known Member
Jan 21, 2003
The article, "Dying for Air" has already started limiting access of freedivers to public pools. My pool closed all apnea practice today, after the supervisor read the article. This has the potential to affect many of us, not just me. I will begin working with the County Supervisors on some education and apnea practice protocols as soon as I can get organized.

I need some help with facts. If you know the answers to any of these questions, please post or pm me.

Has there ever been a fatality or serious injury in a supervised competition (not including no limits)? If so, how many and what were the circumstances? Where can I get some details?

Same question for properly supervised apnea practice of any kind.

How many apnea competitions are held every year, world wide? Ball park will do fine.

How many apnea practitioners are there, spearos and non-spearos separately? Wild ball park will do fine. Source of the estimate?

How many apnea clubs are there? Again, source?

Does any apnea organization have a written safety protocol or something similar? Where can I get a copy?

Does any other pool or government organization have any official position or written rules on apnea practice? Where can I get copies? I've already PMed Alun to get the British material.

I'm planning to put together a written argument supporting supervised apnea practice in public pools. I'll post it when done. The general idea will be to educate on apnea in general, concentrate on the excellent safety record, point out the weak points in the article, and provide the ground work to develop some sort of official policy. Any suggestions would be very much appreciated.


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Hi Connor,

Wondered why you hadn't called. Tried to call after reading this, no luck getting you. Does this mean our training sessions are over? And right after I bought new fins, mask and snorkle to replace my old ones that crapped out on me last time. Shoot, I'm ready to dance and the band has gone!
I feared that the article would have this effect. I hope that I can help out by answering some of your questions and imparting my own experience.

You asked:

1. Has there ever been a fatality or serious injury in a supervised competition (not including no limits)?
To my knowledge, freediving competitions have been free of both serious injuries and fatalities. I believe that I read this both in these forums and also from the PFD course.

A DeeprBlue thread addressed deaths in freediving: http://forums.deeperblue.net/showthread.php?t=52005&highlight=freediving+deaths

2. Same question for properly supervised apnea practice of any kind.
Same answer as above. The key is supervised. The folks at CAFA tell of a diver in Calgary, I believe, who was practicing static apnea with the guards knowledge but the guard could not tell that he had blackouted and drowned. That's why I will never practice statics in the water without a buddy at my side.

3. How many apnea competitions are held every year, world wide?
AIDA listed 58 last year. See http://www.aida-international.org/old_competitions.htm

4. How many apnea practitioners are there, spearos and non-spearos separately?
Don't know.

5. How many apnea clubs are there?
Check here: http://www.apneamania.com/code/links_main.asp

6. Does any apnea organization have a written safety protocol or something similar? Where can I get a copy?
Try this: AIDA-Regulations_INDIVIDUAL_31.pdf at http://www.aida-international.org/documents.htm

7. Does any other pool or government organization have any official position or written rules on apnea practice? Where can I get copies?
Alun's is the only ones that I have seen.

Now, about my experience: I wrote a long detailed letter to our pool manager explaining my reaction to the article and providing her with an understanding of my pool practice of dynamic apnea. Fortunately, she understands that I practice my dynamic apnea in safe manner. The one request that she asked and which I think should become part of AIDA policy is: when practicing apnea in a pool, check in with the lifeguards each session so that they understand what you're doing. After three years of practicing dynamics, I may have taken the guards for granted. Checking in with the guard is just good protocol. I have been doing that each time I have practiced this week and it provides an opportunity to educate the guards. Also, practicing a competition recovery by taking hooks breaths, facing the guard, removing your goggles, signaling with the OK sign, and now saying "OK" not only helps one practice for competition but it also engages the lifeguard by looking right them. I would be happy to email my letter to our pool manager. It worked.

I wish you success in regaining access to our pool for apnea training. I think that the forum discussion has yielded some good points.

I would love to see the letter you have wrote to your local pool manager. It has been an ongoing fight with the local pools and evey tidbit of info. helps.

my e-mail address is: freedivers@gmail.com
I got so irritated with this article so I sent a reply to the editor the same day. Even though I live in Sweden.

It read:

"Whenever we se a dangerous activity it must be stopped? If so, *it is more than breathholding that has to be banned in this society.

*In the article "dying for air" I read about warnings based on ONE incident 10 years ago and linking it to competitive freediving and training.

*10 years ago freediving competitions or serious training had not even started in earnest.

*People die under water. All the time. Sometimes while holding their breath. People also die with scuba tanks on, and while climbing mountains and snowboarding et c.

*The emerging sport of perfomance freediving NEEDS to train in swimmingpools. These people are experts on breathholding and would never train alone. If so, they would either die (very low risk) or get banned from their apnea organisation (higher risk).

*No person, whatever they call themself, should ever be aloud to do breatholding excercises ALONE without a spotter in a pool. And the article rightly points out that ALL persons are at risk when practicing, not only young amateurs.

*If one should give any advice to the pools it is to only accept Apneatraining by organized clubs at certain times.

*Please let more knowledgable persons write articles about risks with
*breatholding. It was physicians who once said that humans cannot go beyond 50 meters in depth - today freedivers regularly go down to 60-70 meters (and up 100 meters).

*Yes a campaign is needed - but banning an activity that has been a human activity for hundreds of thousands of years is not the way to go. Setting standards on how to train is better.

*Sebastian Naslund

*Questionable quotes from the article:

*Probably not due to Shallow water BO but from resisting breathing reflexes (while excersicing) so long that he fainted. The author doesnt seem to understand what shallow water blackout is.

*Has the author information on any known subjects that has died because of low PH while breathholding. Think not.

*There is no state of total absence of O2 in a person - we usually faint at
about 50% O2 stauration.

*Low levels of O2 and CO2 rarely occurs at the same time. And is there any proof of endorphines beeing a culprit for under water blackout? Probably not.

*And yes, bretahholding can be good for your stamina. Not only professional swimmers, skiers and Freedivers have found this out but Yoga techniques based on hundreds of years of experience.

*Of course YMCA and the American Red Cross lifeguarding offers no help on how to safely train breathholding - they know barely nothing about it.
*contact; http://www.aidausa.com
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Reactions: naiad
Thanks Sebastion,

I'll incorporate some of your ideas. Right now I'm waiting on DB, and hopefully AIDA, to finish their response(s) before I go argue (educate) the local pool folks. If you, or anybody else, has any other info, specific facts, etc that would help my argument, please pm me. I'm getting mighty dry.


Many thanks for the info, I appreciate the effort. This kind of thing really shows the value of DB. I'll pm you my email. Very good suggestion on guards participation.

I think the key figures are the life guards employed at the pools.
If one could reach them with this information (number 1 they already know)

1. Breathholding/freediving is dangerous when done with no supervision.
2. Freediving is a lovely recreation and a sport that has attracted people for thousands of years - and will continue to do so.
3. Freediving can be done safely in pools if done under a strict set of rules.

If these rules could be named the "The freddiving pool rules" or the "aida pool rules" and be sent to all concerned after getting support from national sport/diving federations this would be a great step ahead.

In Sweden we have losely agreed on these rules as the official poolrules:

1. No one is allowed to train advanced freediving alone. Supervision from other freediver is needed.

2. It is not allowed to try to set personal records or push to your limit without the DIRECT supervision of another experienced freediver/lifeguard.

3. Excercises with negative lungpressure or with limited rest inbetween laps can only be done under direct supervision of lifeguard or experienced freediver.

4. Any member-freediver not obeying the above rules can be banned from the pool and the freediverclub.

Supervision - means training in pairs.
Direct supervision - means beeing watch from adistance of maximum five meters and up to 20 seconda after finished dive.

Too many rules could be counterproductive. These rules should come with a "LMC/BO handling plan", basicly informing lifeguards of the close to nill chance of getting water into your lungs in a apnea incident and that the CPR stuff should be preceeded by "Blow-tap-talk".

Hmm. i guess that freediving is one of those sports that is easy for media to show up as a mad suicide sport. I´ve been involved in various organizations that has been heavily mauled by massmedia. My experience from this is that people get a bad view of the sport but not so much does actually happen.

But after i have seen this that they´re closing pools for apnea training ,i think something must be done as this is not just giving us bad reputation but in fact is seriously hurting our trainings.

(excuse my language ,i´m from sweden (too))
Quite frankly this Mr. Griffiths, with all his titles experience blah, blah, knows absolutely nothing about Apnea.

What is clear from his article is the fact that he doesn't like Apnea at all, and I really don't think that his reasons are those exposed.

Ban, stop,....people dying...makes look as if it's the most dangerous sport/passtime on earth...please.

What should be said to the pool directors is: Apnea can be dangerous if practiced by someone on his own (because the lifeguards obviously can't dedicate themselves to following one person).
So this is what we do in Italy: Apnea course in the pool = money for the pool....alongside this add one or two extra days in the week for training = more money for the pool....BUT the training can only be done if the instructor is on hand.
Works perfectly well.

No banning, no stopping, lanes reserved for training etc. etc.

It's not so hard......

If the pools are starting to ban this sport due to an article, then they were obviously looking for an excuse to do it......people can be deaf and blind when they want to.

Good luck to you all.

Very glad to report the we are back into pool training. Once I had the facts together in a clear form, it was easy. Turned out the County's head lifeguard is an ex competive swimmer, familiar with hypoxic training, who had already seen the article and did not think much of it. He seemed to think that 100 yards no fins was no big deal for a competitive swimmer.

My great thanks to all who helped, especially Glenn Garrett and cebaztian. We needed all the help we could get.

Don't know how to post what I wrote up. If anybody wants it, pm me with an email address.

Thanks again

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