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PADI-type Freediving Education

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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Is there a need to POSITION freediving as recreational diving open to the masses

  • Yes

    Votes: 34 51.5%
  • No

    Votes: 32 48.5%

  • Total voters
    66
Gambit7

Gambit7

Active Member
May 16, 2006
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Cliff Etzel said:
Problem is, people have ego's that need to be fed and they want to show off whom they were taught by.

Welp, it's understandable that freediving is largely about egos, there's really nothing wrong with that as long as people are safe and resposible. Thing is, it's not about WHO teaches you, it's about how far, how deep, and how long you dive.

If you want recognition, enter a competition (there needs to be more of these too by the way... another pathetic issue with freediving) or attempt a record. Even easier, join a club and register to a public forum like deeperblue.

Back to the competition thing, I believe that's the key to this whole issue. I'm not one of those who thrives on it, or needs it... probably more of a soul-diver. BUT, it DOES help expose the sport as well as advance it.. along with generating money and gaining recognition for people who deserve it.

Right now, the only real organized freediving sport/competition for the masses?? Underwater Hockey... quite sad indeed. I shouldnt have to fly to Maiorca, Spain once a year to compete... or organize a flotilla of support people and vessels just to attempt to beat someone else; the system should be in place already.

I yearn for the day I can walk to City Hall and see a flyer on the wall that says "Southeast Regional Freediving competition on saturday." On "Any Given Sunday" there should be people in the water competing somewhere.

No excuse really... people make a sport, if they claim it for themselves to make them seem a set apart from the rest then the sport will never be accepted. Right now, all freediving is is a David Blaine parlor trick.

I implore all divers to come out of their shells and just teach someone, or get taught, or even try to organize your own local event. Make all the necessary precautions above and beyond what we've seen in the past (99.9% of all accidents are just plain stupidity).

Anyways, I feel like I'm ranting... :head
Lemme stop for now... hehe
 
Cliff Etzel

Cliff Etzel

PFI Freedive Instructor in training, Photographer
Jul 7, 2000
549
34
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Gambit7 said:
Welp, it's understandable that freediving is largely about egos, there's really nothing wrong with that as long as people are safe and resposible. Thing is, it's not about WHO teaches you, it's about how far, how deep, and how long you dive.

If you want recognition, enter a competition (there needs to be more of these too by the way... another pathetic issue with freediving) or attempt a record. Even easier, join a club and register to a public forum like deeperblue.

Back to the competition thing, I believe that's the key to this whole issue. I'm not one of those who thrives on it, or needs it... probably more of a soul-diver. BUT, it DOES help expose the sport as well as advance it.. along with generating money and gaining recognition for people who deserve it.

Right now, the only real organized freediving sport/competition for the masses?? Underwater Hockey... quite sad indeed. I shouldnt have to fly to Maiorca, Spain once a year to compete... or organize a flotilla of support people and vessels just to attempt to beat someone else; the system should be in place already.

I yearn for the day I can walk to City Hall and see a flyer on the wall that says "Southeast Regional Freediving competition on saturday." On "Any Given Sunday" there should be people in the water competing somewhere.

No excuse really... people make a sport, if they claim it for themselves to make them seem a set apart from the rest then the sport will never be accepted. Right now, all freediving is is a David Blaine parlor trick.

I implore all divers to come out of their shells and just teach someone, or get taught, or even try to organize your own local event. Make all the necessary precautions above and beyond what we've seen in the past (99.9% of all accidents are just plain stupidity).

Anyways, I feel like I'm ranting... :head
Lemme stop for now... hehe

I think again, you have hit the nail on the head - Teaching somone to freedive safely does take some experience - to teach anyone does. People like Jon and Sam are involved or have been involved with the bubble blowing agencies and as such, have had actual practical experience teaching others. I myself am working on that issue since reading this thread more - The only thing will be that I will be teaching freediving to a depth of 10 meters - maybe 20 at most - no competition, no spearfishing (My now defuct IAFD Instructor rating says Level III CB Instructor - 30 meters max). Just the necessary skills and academics to help bubble blowers understand what true freediving is about.

We shall see what comes of it...
 
J

jimqpublic

Love snorkeling in warm water.
May 4, 2006
185
12
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From the perspective of someone who is interested in getting started diving here's my response:

I did some snorkeling and decided to get into more- but found that "snorkeling" means just that- floating on the surface and never holding your breath. My idea was to go down to Cabo or La Paz (Baja California, Mexico) and find a dive outfitter/guide where I could join up with a group.

Unfortunatley all that I found were SCUBA only. They would be happy to do a whole training class and certify me.

Right now I don't want to SCUBA dive. I try to keep my activities more in the human powered class (bicycle, hike, kayak) vs. powered. I've done plenty of motorcycling and didn't like the direction it took me. (burning oil, out of shape, doing very risky things). Freediving seemed perfect. Goggle along on the surface then dive down for a minute or two when I see something interesting.

So I started to search for training/groups/guides for what I soon learned was called "freediving". Seems like a new name for an old activity (just like "freeskiing" is what I just call skiing).

In searching around the web for a few days I found exactly one company (PFI) offering regularly scheduled instruction within 3000 miles of my home. I gather they're more oriented to the official apnea disciplines than just swimming around looking at fish, but I think it will be great training nonetheless.

Cost is another issue. Supply/Demand price model doesn't work when the demand is very low. PFI is a company that does a lot to increase exposure to the sport and drum up business. They fly all around North America/Hawaii to give classes. A staff of three to train 12 people, and generally they only do one session per location/trip. If I wanted to get PADI OW certified there are probably at least a dozen classes running every weekend within 20 miles of my home- from dive shops, independant instructors, and groups like YMCA. The cost of SCUBA training doesn't include the amount of travel expenses and unpaid marketing that PFI has to build into their course fees.

I'm amazed to find that I actually live in an historical hotbed of freediving (skindiving & spearfishing) so there are many local freedivers/spearfishermen & several freedive/spearfishing clubs. But even so I don't see a clear way to safely get into the sport without taking the rare PFI class.

If it weren't for the PFI class I was planning on just showing up at the next Long Beach Neptunes meeting (1 mile from home!) and asking how to get started. I am lucky to have such a local club and I am lucky to have a local dive shop where the owner is an avid freedive spearfisherman.

I can imagine that most people in this country only get into freediving if they have a friend who introduces them to the sport. As I have no friends, that wasn't an option.:(

If there was a standard PADI or PADI type freedive certification it would be easier to get into freediving. Honestly I think it would make sense for the freedive class to come first before SCUBA, but I understand that people in America want the MOST with the least effort.

Jim
 
Gambit7

Gambit7

Active Member
May 16, 2006
12
0
36
46
jimqpublic said:
If it weren't for the PFI class I was planning on just showing up at the next Long Beach Neptunes meeting (1 mile from home!) and asking how to get started. I am lucky to have such a local club and I am lucky to have a local dive shop where the owner is an avid freedive spearfisherman.

I can imagine that most people in this country only get into freediving if they have a friend who introduces them to the sport. As I have no friends, that wasn't an option.:(

If there was a standard PADI or PADI type freedive certification it would be easier to get into freediving. Honestly I think it would make sense for the freedive class to come first before SCUBA, but I understand that people in America want the MOST with the least effort.

Jim

Welp, the Neptunes are probably the most heralded and experienced Spearfishing clan in the U.S. You cant go wrong hangin with those guys. Just in getting into freediving/spearfishing I've read a million stories of them.

The issue of COST was another thing I was about to get to that you just hit on. Right now, it's just not cost effective to learn how to freedive from a group like PFI. Their CHEAPEST course is like $400 for 2 days training (and you have to bring your own gear). For $250 I can get a PADI OW cert., that includes all gear, 5 days of training, diveboat, and learning materials... and I can go down the street to get it, as well as BUY all the gear I want and even train in a pool ON-SITE.

NO Freediving course offers this.

To me, the simple solution is to just start latching Freedive instructors to local dive shops... this will help keep the cost down and inject more material and gear into the shops, as well as exposure.

BUT, alas, instructors can make more money by teaching their own classes and keep it more "pure".

Personally, I was seriously considering pro. training, but it'll cost me $600 or more to do-so for a relatively short amount of training. The more I've been thinking about it, the more I've come to realize that it'd be more cost effective to simply take that same amount of money and buy gear and learning material with it. Maybe even pay someone to help me with my training regimen. I've checked online and have seen lifeguards for hire between $12-$20/hour, aside from that I'm sure there are people who'd volunteer to help out... even better, just find other trainees who can spot you.

As for open water work, you can hop on a dive boat for like $20 in a lot of places. Or even RENT a small boat for $100-$200. You can spend the rest of the money on anchors, floats, etc. Heck, I need a Suunto D3.

Anyways, you catch my drift. I was pool training today actually and people are generally intrigued by what I'm doing. I hear them while I'm underwater, "hey, that guy's been down there a while". Or I get stopped and asked, "what are you training for?" Some crazy dude in mask, fins, snorkel, and wetsuit with weightbelt swim up and down the lanes underwater always grabs attention. So, I believe, there's definitely a market for freedive training, dynamic swimming, spearfishing, and apnea-yoga... Just gotta spread the word.

Someone could make a lotta money.:head
 
Cliff Etzel

Cliff Etzel

PFI Freedive Instructor in training, Photographer
Jul 7, 2000
549
34
118
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I was at the pool as well, doing my dynamics - as far as I know, I'm the only one seriously freedive training in the area. I'm currently doing my PADI Divemaster for specific reasons, but am working on a plan right now to begin offering freedive clinics that are much more reasonable in price.

The cost for the two days by PFI is rediculous to say the least. With the right person and small group of capable students, one shouldn't have to be charging these huge amounts of money - except that Kirk and company have to fly everywhere - and since they are based in BC, the cost of flying is even more expensive than here in the states.

I'm currently working on the curriculum for teaching freediving and basic yoga techniques. Already had one swimmer at the pool today who knew about freediving, but she didn't know how to go about it.

Screw the rest of the organizations, I'm getting the word out for sure..
 
J

jimqpublic

Love snorkeling in warm water.
May 4, 2006
185
12
108
Cliff- Agreed the price is high. It works out to $150/day + boat expenses for the four day class. As we both said though- they have to fly all around the continent+ to teach a dozen students at a time. I'm sure if they could predict two dozen students they would offer a second session at each location. All that and they are very actively promoting the sport (some say too much) by every means possible. I'm sure they are not getting rich off their business.

DeeperBlue and other freedive web resources convinced me that I owe it to my family to take a good class to get started on the right foot. If I could have paid a similar price to a PADI OW class instead I certainly would have done so. Money is tight here and I don't need world class instruction- but it was the only thing going so that's what I'll get.
 
fcallagy

fcallagy

Well-Known Member
Feb 26, 2005
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Lads
All good thoughts on the above but in the UK there are a lot of AIDA qualified instructors and I don,t think any of them are getting rich off it, they are doing it for the love of the sport and I have found them very helpful trying to get things started in Ireland with safety protcols for pools etc although I,m not qualified as instructor. The laws here may be different but a waiver is not worth the paper its written on. If I take someone and instruct them I have a duty of care on them regardless of any waiver signed so i would check out insurance etc. Aida seems to be well organised when it comes to training instructors with course notes and when I did the sett course I learned a hell of a lot in a structured way rather than just bits and pieces as they were remembered. I,m hoping to do another course in the UK this year and eventually get to instructor level but in a country of 4m and after searching for the past year on this site and through Irish scuba circles I personally know of about 8 freedivers dotted around the country. I don,t think theres money in this sport unless its at the top level via sponsership or unless you could piggy back on some other sport like scuba or adventure and share the expenses
 
Stephan Whelan

Stephan Whelan

Papa Smurf
Staff member
Admin
Jan 7, 1999
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There is a real need for structured courses. Yes we need instructors but not everyone is a good instructor and there should be check-and-balances in place to ensure that people receive a quality product.

I know that Kirk and the crew at PFI have a fantastic product. AIDA have worked hard with trying to get a decent education programme in place and it seems to be working. We teach under this programme at the SETT in the UK and will be teaching in open water under it as well.

FreeDiving is still an infant sport - you can't expect instructors to be everywhere for such a small sport - people need to earn money to feed themselves and non-professional instructors tend to not have the same standards as professional instructors.

Insurance is another area to consider. FreeDiving is considered a high-risk sport (not surprising as it involves holding you breath in an unbreathable liquid). Insurance costs are astronomical and a lot of instructors in the US cannot find decent insurance to cover their teaching. Waivers will not protect the instructor from being sued - they worthless, even over here in Europe.

I believe there is room in the market for both decent clubs (that provide a safe and controlled manner to learn together) and professional-run courses (such as PFI in the US or us in the UK) but you have to understand that the end product will be different. Professional courses will provide a lot more than a volunteer club. You get what you pay for generally speaking.

No-one is becoming rich out of this but it is important to remember that if this is their business they should be expected to make some money out of it. Anybody who charges for a course and doesn't make some money out of it will not be in business for very long.
 
N

naiad

Apnea Carp
Supporter
Oct 11, 2003
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Stephan Whelan said:
There is a real need for structured courses. Yes we need instructors but not everyone is a good instructor and there should be check-and-balances in place to ensure that people receive a quality product.
I agree.

Stephan Whelan said:
I believe there is room in the market for both decent clubs (that provide a safe and controlled manner to learn together) and professional-run courses (such as PFI in the US or us in the UK) but you have to understand that the end product will be different. Professional courses will provide a lot more than a volunteer club. You get what you pay for generally speaking.
I agree. I have learnt freediving in a club environment, and have enjoyed it much more than I would have if I had started off doing a course, but that's just my style of doing things. I would also never have been able to afford course fees, so if doing a course had been compulsory, I would effectively have been banned from freediving.

Now that I have been freediving for a long time, I am thinking of getting qualified soon.

I think that professional-run courses are a very good idea, and are essential to the progress of our sport. For most people, a course is probably the best way to start freediving, as it gives a good solid grounding in safety and proper technique, instead of learning the hard way.

I still have concerns about how instructors are selected. I know of someone, not a DB member, who is AIDA*** qualified and has said that he is thinking of doing an Instructor course. His behaviour is irresponsible and he has put me in danger on a number of occasions. I do not trust him as a buddy, to the point of being frightened of him, and I am unhappy to see him supervising anyone else. This has made me doubt the selection process.

Lucia
 
Stephan Whelan

Stephan Whelan

Papa Smurf
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naiad said:
I still have concerns about how instructors are selected. I know of someone, not a DB member, who is AIDA*** qualified and has said that he is thinking of doing an Instructor course. His behaviour is irresponsible and he has put me in danger on a number of occasions. I do not trust him as a buddy, to the point of being frightened of him, and I am unhappy to see him supervising anyone else. This has made me doubt the selection process.
Don't forget that just by doing an instructor course doesn't mean they will pass. A good Instructor Trainer will only certify people who are good enough to teach other students.

Learning to be an instructor should be a difficult and challenging process to ensure that the instructor is up to the challenge. It should not be an automatic pass for just doing a course.
 
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Walrus

Walrus

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Oct 3, 2001
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On the flipside of this discussion I have some concerns regarding the AIDA freediver courses. I am totally for structured freediving courses. My concern is AIDA have opened up a big grey area in terms of commercialisation. One of the most important statutes of AIDA is "Aida is a non profit organisation". Yet the whole AIDA freediver course is basically modelled on the PADI system and is completely commercial. So now within AIDA there are some people getting paid for some tasks and not others. One example if you were a judge and worked a whole weekend you don't get paid for it, but if you are an instructor you do. Where do you draw the line, and at what point does AIDA stop being a non-profit organisation ?

Also as far as education and safety is concerned the vast majority of freedivers will not do courses. In Australia we have thousands of people spearfishing, only a very small percentage of these will ever do freediving courses. Knowing this one of the first things I did when making a website on freediving was to include a document on safety:- http://www.ozfreediving.com/News/Safety.php

No I don't believe such written material is as good as teaching people in person. But it is better for someone to read this then nothing at all. It would be nice if AIDA international would also provide free information such as this.


Cheers,
Wal
 
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N

naiad

Apnea Carp
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Oct 11, 2003
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Walrus said:
Also as far as education and safety is concerned the vast majority of freedivers will not do courses. In Australia we have thousands of people spearfishing, only a very small percentage of these will ever do freediving courses. Knowing this one of the first things I did when making a website on freediving was to include a document on safety:- http://www.ozfreediving.com/News/Safety.php
That's a good point. Most of the skills I have learnt in my life have been without doing courses. As I said on another thread, I am going to do a course on Ornamental Fish Management starting this year. I have been keeping ornamental fish since I was about 6 years old, and have learnt entirely without help from other people. Of course, with freediving and spearfishing there is also the safety aspect, but we have to be realistic about the fact that even if there are excellent courses available, there will always be people who, for whatever reason, don't want to do them. Maybe they have been freediving all their life, they might not be able to afford a course, or they may simply not see the need.

I started freediving alone in the pool, and probably would have continued to do so if it had not been for the informal and affordable freediving club that I found. It's my style of learning, but probably one that would have led to serious trouble if I had not been given easy access to the right information and people to train with.

Good safety document. :)

Lucia
 
Gambit7

Gambit7

Active Member
May 16, 2006
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Freediving to me is more of a commitment then many other sports, due to the nature of the training one must do to be good at it.
Even good spearfishers, they're GOOD because they've dove 1000's and 1000's of times.

This in itself, counts OUT professional training because quite simply it doesnt last long enough. Is it good grounding?? heck yah. But that's all.

But, to me, a good, safe, quality club atmosphere is leagues above even pro. training. They train frequently, they share ideas and gear suggestions, they can do organized dives, and you have people you can trust during your regimen.

On another note, ALL freedivers should have up to date CPR qualifications (that means every 2 years) as well as physicals. I personally just got done with a check-up that included blood-work, EKG, and 24-hour EKG (gets a nice profile of my heart). I plan on doing some allergy testing soon, and with it I can get a profile of my lungs (capacity, o2, co2, etc.). All this is pretty much free but is invaluable for something like freediving.

The ONLY way to effectively get people to be responsible like this is in a group atmosphere or with uber-expensive successive pro. training (like taking ALL the PFI courses in succession and having private training in between).
Since there arent and should NOT be a "card" sytem like PADI (dont see how it could work anyhow) this is really the best way.

Of course, the problem is just visibility. How do you get people to get interested and join a club?? Just take the initiative and start one up! Talk to your dive retailers. Put up a city post (free). Use yahoo.com, friendster, myspace, etc. Before you know it, you'll have a huge club and a plethora of people to train with. I personally, dont have the time to lead such a club, but I'd be happy to hand down the reigns once its started.

As for clubs currently in MY area right now... from what I've seen, they're all spearo clubs... mainly SCUBA. Someone needs to start one up.
 
Cliff Etzel

Cliff Etzel

PFI Freedive Instructor in training, Photographer
Jul 7, 2000
549
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I think a major sore spot needs to be raised regarding this matter - that being of the letiguousness of our society. If there is a fatality either directly or indirectly associated with a "Club" - all members of said club are legally open to being sued.

The club should have a waiver stating that each member understands the risks involved in the sport and has signed away all legal recourse against the club and its members. This waiver should be reviewed by a legal professional for any possible loop holes that could be used if legal proceedings do take place.

Human greed may not take hold from the freediver, but family members really show ther true side of greed when something like this occurs - I have seen it all too often.

FMP - After having taken PFI's, IAFD's, and Aharon Solomons training techniques - each has strengths and weaknesses - I have learned something from each one - to the point now that the only standard I want to truly attain is taking Umberto's Apnea Academy Instructor course. The "Manual of Freediving" set's the standard by which all other instructors "SHOULD" be striving for. Aharon flat out stated that Umberto's book should be the "Bible" for freediving and since getting the book, I have been reading it every day - I plan on applying as much of the information in the book as I possibly can. The quality of material in the book puts all others to shame in my opinion.

I highly recommend that if any freediver is going to go it alone, they at least invest in the book and apply the information contained in it. It will make you a better freediver. It has already changed much of the bad habits and techniques I have learned up until training with Aharon. He schooled me proper on technique that both PFI and IAFD never caught. Aharon's philosophy of a 1% improvement in technique equates to a 10% improvement in performance has been validated in my personal experience.
 
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Fondueset

Fondueset

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I think I'll be okay as long as I don't see the word 'compulsory'. Or start seeing underwater parks where only 'certified' freedivers are permitted.

I would also suggest the possibility of less expensive 'dry' introductory courses - which familiarize students with the various dynamics involved - provide safe breath up procedures and maybe some dry statics. The 'wet' course would be a separate module - with costs commesurate with the problems of insurance and so forth. In this way there would be a more practical and widely available means to familiarize divers with the principals of safe diving to at least raise the level of awareness and provide a basic structure. The motive is to make an education in at least the basic principals available to more people.
 
Stephan Whelan

Stephan Whelan

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Pro training and Clubs should compliment each other well - it's not "one or the other".

Think about driving - just like it is a similar word to "diving" it shares a lot of similarities.

How do you go about learning? Well...

Your parents take you to a car park and you try a few small manouvers (just like a club environment). You then take some training (taught by a professional instructor) and this costs you some money. Then you take a test which proves a certain level of competance and that you (should) be safe on the road (this is a formal certification). You then can go out into the big wide world and drive, although most people want to have some moral support in the car with them for the first few new steps, like driving on a big freeway, which sounds like a club environment.

That's fine for 95% of the population who drive.

But for the other 5% then want to get into the competitive and "performance" side of driving so they join another club and drive with like minded people. They then might take some more courses to learn more advanved techniques that compliment or re-inforce what they have learnt from their peers.

Eventually they might decide to become a pro themselves and help teach others - at this point they can either teach the basics (learning to drive) or the competitive "performance" side of driving.

It should be also made clear that there is a BIG demand for short "introduction to freediving" courses that teach the basics. Most people we teach just do this course - very few go on to other higher level courses. We then steer them towards clubs to help understand more about freediving and dive in a safe environment. We have even helped setup a few clubs here in the UK and Ireland.

However demand for courses is still huge. At the last dive show we exhibited at here in little old England we got 700 signed up for info on courses. Combine that with almost every course having a journalist on it to write an article in mainstream press there is a huge demand from the public for courses.

If they don't learn in a structured manner, either through clubs or courses, they will try to learn themselves - alone in the bath or pool - and we will start seeing injuries and then people being banned from FreeDiving.

Likewise, without an attempt at setting a standard for instructors and freedivers we will get rogue elements who don't know what they are doing trying to teach people to freedive and getting themselves or their students injured or killed.
 
Gambit7

Gambit7

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I agree, courses are great... but, I just cant see myself spending 500 bucks on it right now. :naughty
Mainly, because I count myself educated and responsible enough to do without the "introduction".
I also agree that there is HUGE demand right now, as I've said in prior posts. And there's no reason not to take advantage of it. But, prices must come down also, and I believe they will once there are more instructors who can take care of their local clientele.

The more I think about it though, the more I realize the hidden expenses with freediving, and this is why good clubs are so important (because u can offset the costs).

A tricked out freediving instructor would need a boat, a pool with a dive tank, mask/fins/snorkel/wetsuit for everyone, reading materials, open water dive gear (lines, barge, sled, anchors, etc.), and most importantly - safety divers. The safety divers are to me the biggest problem, to be truly safe you gotta have em if you plan to go deep. This means a lotta guys on mixed gases with a lotta gear.
Big clubs seem better suited to offset these costs, unless you're willing to charge high prices to teach. In those regards, I somewhat understand the fees charged.
 
Fondueset

Fondueset

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I'd do an instructors course in a blue minute if I could afford to get where one is and pay for it. I've been on TV and in the paper here locally this past winter and have people doggin me for lessons without even mentioning it.
I wouldn't do advanced courses here though - unless I could get logistical help. I do know some of the high end scubies here. Generally though - I'd probably just have folks doing less than 20 meter dives in water about that deep with a couple of safeties on scuba and free.
 
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