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How Risky is Freediving?

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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Well-Known Member
Jul 29, 2001
We all know that freediving has inherent risks, principally, breath hold blackout and ascent blackout. But I do risky things all the time, like drive a car, drink wine and take a bath (even without practicing static apnea in the bathtub). The critical question is, how risky is freediving compared to all of the other risks I take on a weekly basis?

Perhaps a more tractable way to approach the question is to ask how freediving compares to SCUBA with respect to risk of death or debilitating accidents?

Does anyone know of statistics on freediving deaths?

[P.S. This is a serious question in need of real data - a friend of ours seems determined to convince my wife that I'm playing roullette every time I dive.]
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good question

the way i look at it is if you...
1.stay within your limits
2. Dive with a buddy
3. knowbasic first aid and what to do when your buddy blacks out

the risks are minimized and then if you follow those step take any other sport you do and look at how many times youve been hurt then take that number and the number of freedive incidents and compare them and the same basis like...

when i mountain bike i crash hard every 4-5 ride so 1/4 of the time i come back in pain
then look at how many times you get a blackout and a samba and then compare that to how many times you dive so lets say ive dived 100 different trips and ive has 2 sambas and no swb so
i get "hurt" 1/50th of the time

do what you want with that data
theres my 2 cents

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I've only been freediving for a year, every weekend since October of last year (brrrr!) with maybe 20-30 dives of significant depth on each day. So that's roughly 1500+ dives in the last year with no blackout or samba. I've also made about 50+ dives over 40 metres again with no problems.

Eric Fattah has made thousands of dives over the last three years and over 100+ dives to 50 metres or more, and has never had a samba and only four blackouts on the surface, two of which happened under extremem conditions in Florida.

So between the two of us that's like one incident every 1500 dives. (How's that for accurate stats! :duh I'm no statistician....)

Not to say that something won't happen next time we go diving, but like thin_air says, minimize the risks and have fun.

The only samba I've had is in the pool.........;)

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My Accident Record

My dive log, with accident frequency:

Constant Weight
47 dives to 50+m
24 dives to 60+m
12 dives to 70+m
4 dives to 80+m

3 hypoxia blackouts:
53m (blackout at -1m)
53m (blackout after breathing at surface)
75m (blackout after breathing at surface)
One near CO2 blackout at depth during an 80+m dive.
No sambas.

Dynamic Apnea
8 swims over 100+m
3 swims over 105+m
1 swim over 125+m

One samba from 100m when swimming with a fever.

About 150 statics over 5:00
About 60 statics over 6:00
2 statics over 7:10

No sambas or blackouts.

Eric Fattah
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Thanks for the replies.

I'm with you guys concerning risks, but convincing non-freedivers that this is really not an eggregiously hazardous activity can be a challenge. Your experiences are a start - thanks much. Combining individual experiences is what eventually creates a body of information, if not "data".

I hope others will contribute also so that we have enough 'data' that the numbers speak for themselves.
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more stats

i've been seriously spearfishing for over 2 years now. maybe have been on about 150 outings which are about 8 hours a piece(on average). i have never blacked out (knocking on desk) and have never samba'd. i consider myself in a "high risk" area because of the adrenaline mixture into situations. i feel safe because i know my body. i never dive below 70 feet without my buddy keeping an eye on me. and, i always dive as shallow as needed for what we're hunting.

i definitely see this forum as a place to add some security to your own wellbeing underwater. although knowledge is power, it can be lethal if it's misinterpreted. i feel alot of the guys here are excellent resources.

terry maas's wife was convinced by her husband for the longest time that there were no sharks where he was spearfishing. :D
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