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PADI-type Freediving Education

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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
Walrus

Walrus

Oz freediver
Oct 3, 2001
693
77
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Stephan Whelan said:
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.

Hi Stephan,
to me your opinion seems to be everybody should do a freedive course from a "certified" instructor or don't freedive at all. I agree it would be better if everyone does do a course, but you can't force people to do one!
With scuba the certification means you can't actually get airfills from a shop without it. Freediving "certification" means little in reality, how can you stop someone from freediving ?

Australia is very different to England. We have many thousands of people that spearfish, and yes that makes them freedivers. Just because a person holds a speargun in their hand does not make them immune to blacking out. The vast majority of these will never do a freedive course, they just want to catch some fish. The previous point I was trying to make before that people are going to freedive wether or not they do a course or not. Having written information is far better then nothing at all. I learnt to freedive mostly from reading Deeper Blue :) , since there were no freediving courses here when I started.

As for "rogue elements teaching courses"
I'm sure there are many experienced competitors, judges, safety divers that have the same knowledge of those that are "certified". I have taught freediving courses and I'm not "certified" from a freediving agency. I have ample experience as a competitor, I have judged and been a safety diver for world record attempts. I have lost count of the number of blackout rescues I have performed. As far as safety I teach exactly the same thing safety divers do in competition. Which is probably exactly the same as what is written in the AIDA freediver course material. For me to become an AIDA instructor I would have to pay $3000-$4000 for airfares, accom to do a course on something that I already know and teach?
Personally if I wanted to learn from an instructor, I would choose one based on their experience, not a "certification". Years ago I did a course with PFI, I choose this based on Martin's and Kirk's experience. As far as I know PFI don't give a "certification" to their students.


I hope there are more freediving courses around and more people do them, but not at the expense of freely available information. I also see far too many flaws with a "certification" type system. Who sets the standards for freediving education?
Why don't I just make up my own agency and certify myself ?

Wal
 
Cliff Etzel

Cliff Etzel

PFI Freedive Instructor in training, Photographer
Jul 7, 2000
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Fondue - that is exactly what I am thinking for my area. 20 meters max with some safety divers - this discussion is touching on a concept of networked freedive instructors for the U.S.

maybe something to discuss at DEMA???

Walrus - I think the issue Stephan is touching on is a way for those who take the time and financial risk to receive accurate instruction to become instructors should be able to receive financial compensation for their knowledge.

One of the big challenges I see is that numerous "experienced" freedivers feel that they know it all, snubbing their noses at the establishment - without realizing, that maybe, they still have something to learn. Any freediver who thinks they know it all because of their so called experience, is setting themselves up for bad juju.

I am of the belief that there is always something more to learn - the universe has a way of humbling someone the moment they think they have all the answers. There are established ways of teaching that have been proven time and time again - and they have been proven in statistical research. The scuba agencies utilize those methodologies due to their consistency - Otherwise they wouldn't utilize those methodologies.

I could be wrong in my position, but after my experience in watching, reading and hearing about so called "experts" who allow such things as "Blackouts in their courses", who are more concerned with promotimg themselves instead of the sport - I think does the sport a disservice and displays a need for their ego to be fed than in serving the participants of their courses/clinic/whatever you want to call it.

You can start your own agency if you want - but what is your opinion of Apnea Academy - which has not only a world class athlete but also physiologists and psychologists on staff to address the full gamut of freediving? They have the credibility for certification. I plan on attending the next english course when available in Europe.
 
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Fondueset

Fondueset

Carp Whisperer
Jul 27, 2004
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I'd definitely want some more training and an aida cert but I'd love to do it. Wouldn't have people pushing themselves though - not without alot of support. I'm quite capable of educating myself - but I'd like to support a more or less centralized certification process for instructors - there is no reason why there could not be two or three agencies that do it - but I do agree with some standard for instructors in this discipline. It attracts people who want to push the envelope - and oversite at the instructor level is a safeguard. I think also that we must be very careful how much we push for this for freedivers in general, however.

Training courses for freedivers do not need to be competitively oriented. I would refer students interested in seriously pushing their limits to the folks at performance freediving - since they are in my hemisphere.

getting good info out there, and making training available is one thing. Criticizing those who choose to dive without such training is quite another and, in my opinion, quite unreasonable.
 
Cliff Etzel

Cliff Etzel

PFI Freedive Instructor in training, Photographer
Jul 7, 2000
549
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Fondue - I think a paradigm shift is in order here - The vast majority of freedivers out there only have a rudimentary understanding of what occurs while freediving. Partial disclosure can actually be more dangerous than no disclosure. Except for Umberto's book, there has been virtually no information made available regarding the complete physiological and dive related physics as it applies to freediving. That is what proper instruction brings to the table - and a more informed freediver is statistically a safer freediver. The same applies for scuba - you are required to understand the full aspects of diving before you get your C card - what you do with that information is up to you - but if the information isn't made available and properly taught - then you have either poorly taught freedivers with only partial or incomplete information - or none at all.

That isn't a good thing for the sport from my position.
 
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Walrus

Walrus

Oz freediver
Oct 3, 2001
693
77
0
Hi Cliff,
When you say "Partial disclosure can actually be more dangerous than no disclosure" that's exactly what I'm opposed to, and seems to be the line the freediving agencies take.

You yourself wrote up a document on safety, and made it freely available here on Deeper Blue, I think that's great!
I have done the same and think free information like this should not be hidden away having to pay big bucks to do a freediver course. I agree that reading something is not as good as learning it in person. But what happens in the case I just mentioned before. You have thousands of freedivers not wanting or willing to do a freedive course. Should it not be better that they have at least a basic knowledge of what to do if someone has a blackout ?

I agree with you that there are experienced freedivers out there that think they know it all, and would benefit from being more open and learning more. The best freedivers and coaches realize that they don't know it all and are willing to take chances try new things and make continual changes to the way they approach training and techniques. You simply can't progress otherwise. Also that being a good freediver does not necessarily make one a good teacher. I don't see any one freediving agency as being "the best" they all have different aproaches and teaching styles. You just have to find what most suits you.

Cheers,
Wal
 
Cliff Etzel

Cliff Etzel

PFI Freedive Instructor in training, Photographer
Jul 7, 2000
549
34
118
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Wal, you said it very eloquently... :)

having spent time with Aharon Solomons in January of this year really opened my eyes to what freediving should become. I'm not trying to place Aharon on a pedestal, but his views on stressing safety and proper technique were far and above anything else I had been taught by PFI or IAFD. The emphasis on performance only and not addressing key issues of proper technique in finning, conditioning, etc has been overshadowed by those who would try to make a quick buck in the process. USAA has even stated flat out that they will not endorse any one way of training - well, considering that PADI and USAA have common allies, that doesn't surprise me. Even doing my pool work last night for my PADI divemaster - it was a little appalling to have my partner not even understand the term critical attributes to a simple skill like flooding and clearing a mask. This is the level I have seen much of freedive training stoop to to make a quick buck.

Although I have published articles on things like training and safety, they are in my opinion no replacement for being taught by a qualified freedive instructor. Where we probably don't agree is that this kind of instruction is not something I'm willing to give away for free out of the goodness of my heart. I spent many long hours in classroom and in the water to learn to teach effectively and properly. I feel that financial compensation is justified. Now I'm not saying it should be several hundreds of dollars, but there should be some sort of compensation - I believe you get what you pay for. If it's free - is it of any real value???

Regarding those who don't want to take a course... Thats a difficult call to make. Look at it from someone who has taken the time, financial investment and energy to train to become a freedive instructor. Would you want to GIVE away the very thing that could provide you with a source of revenue just because someone is too cheap to take a course? What does that say about the individual? They want to ride on your efforts - personally - I don't like the idea of being used for my skills just so someone can save $200 and a weekend to learn to freedive safely. I worked very hard to learn how to teach effectively - and it's not as easy as many think it is. I train daily, I read up on the professional side of diving - there is much to be learned as a model from the scuba industry - what to do and not to do.

Deeperblue has the right idea for their courses - If someone really wants to learn to freedive safely, they should put there money where there mouth is. It get's very old with all the internet babble of what to do and not do regarding freediving. There are specific methodologies that exist to take someone through the process of fully understanding -give them the foundational tools properly, then let them take the lead and investigate further.

It may sound like a broken record, but I would rather not divulge what I know now just because a freediver is a cheapskate - and I have had my share of run ins with that type.

If someone wants me to teach them to freedive - I charge a reasonable fee to do that.
 
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Fondueset

Fondueset

Carp Whisperer
Jul 27, 2004
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What concerns me is over regulation. I knew everything I learned in my PADI/NAUI course way before I took it. I'd practiced mask flooding and everything - even had some moron turn off my air for a joke without my knowlege.

It is possible to freedive safely without being trained by someone else. Not common, but possible.

I agree that when it is taught it should be taught thoroughly - and that people should be required to pay for such instruction. I do not agree that all courses should be geared toward competitive freediving. Such courses are specialized and require a higher level of commitment.

Recreational freediving courses should be thorough and safety oriented. But should not be oriented around pushing limits. I don't advocate 'freediving light' - but I think it is useful and practical to separate hard-core competitive freediving from recreational freediving. Not in terms of compromising on quality of instruction - but in terms of emphasis. A course geared to recreational freediving could be shorter and less expensive - with no compromise in terms of content, quality or emphasis on safety.

Freediving instruction should be more available and accessible than it is. Quality should be uncompromising without encouraging recreational divers to push themselves. Recreational freediving classes should be educational and safety oriented.

Insisting, however, that freedivers be certified would be a damned shame. Those of us who know what we're doing are not responsible for those who don't. Our responsibility is to represent the sport accurately when given the opportunity, and provide the possibility of training for those who want it. Not insist that everyone do it our way.
 
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naiad

Apnea Carp
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Oct 11, 2003
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Fondueset said:
getting good info out there, and making training available is one thing. Criticizing those who choose to dive without such training is quite another and, in my opinion, quite unreasonable.
Fondueset said:
What concerns me is over regulation. I knew everything I learned in my PADI/NAUI course way before I took it. I'd practiced mask flooding and everything - even had some moron turn off my air for a joke without my knowlege.

It is possible to freedive safely without being trained by someone else. Not common, but possible.

Insisting, however, that freedivers be certified would be a damned shame however. Those of us who know what we're doing are not responsible for those who don't. Our responsibility is to represent the sport accurately when given the opportunity, and provide the possibility of training for those who want it. Not insist that everyone do it our way.
I agree.

Cliff Etzel said:
Although I have published articles on things like training and safety, they are in my opinion no replacement for being taught by a qualified freedive instructor. Where we probably don't agree is that this kind of instruction is not something I'm willing to give away for free out of the goodness of my heart. I spent many long hours in classroom and in the water to learn to teach effectively and properly. I feel that financial compensation is justified. Now I'm not saying it should be several hundreds of dollars, but there should be some sort of compensation - I believe you get what you pay for. If it's free - is it of any real value???

Regarding those who don't want to take a course... Thats a difficult call to make. Look at it from someone who has taken the time, financial investment and energy to train to become a freedive instructor. Would you want to GIVE away the very thing that could provide you with a source of revenue just because someone is too cheap to take a course? What does that say about the individual? They want to ride on your efforts - personally - I don't like the idea of being used for my skills just so someone can save $200 and a weekend to learn to freedive safely. I worked very hard to learn how to teach effectively - and it's not as easy as many think it is. I train daily, I read up on the professional side of diving - there is much to be learned as a model from the scuba industry - what to do and not to do.

Deeperblue has the right idea for their courses - If someone really wants to learn to freedive safely, they should put there money where there mouth is. It get's very old with all the internet babble of what to do and not do regarding freediving. There are specific methodologies that exist to take someone through the process of fully understanding -give them the foundational tools properly, then let them take the lead and investigate further.

It may sound like a broken record, but I would rather not divulge what I know now just because a freediver is a cheapskate - and I have had my share of run ins with that type.

If someone wants me to teach them to freedive - I charge a reasonable fee to do that.
The trouble with courses is that some people simply can't afford them. It isn't necessarily because they are a cheapskate. Some people, through no fault of their own, will never be able to afford course fees. I don't expect anyone to teach me for free. I would never put someone in danger because of my own lack of experience. If something is beyond my ability, I tell my buddy that someone else will have to supervise them. I like to think that I am sensible about my own safety. Banning people from basic freediving because they can't afford professional instruction is unfair. It's a personal freedom issue.

Lucia
 
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Stephan Whelan

Stephan Whelan

Papa Smurf
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Jan 7, 1999
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Courses aren't the only answer and neither are clubs.

They should compliment each other not be mutually exclusive.

There should also be different costs for courses - some people want cheap-and-cheerful. Others want super luxury. Same with clubs, some clubs will charge a lot of join and have the latest, high-tech kit, others will be a more informal "bring what you have and learn" kind of place.

The answer is to provide numerous routes into the sport - whether that is reading Umberto's Book, DeeperBlue articles, chatting in the forums, joining a club or getting onto a course.

FreeDiving is an infant sport and it is a skill that needs to be learnt properly. It is not without it's risks, especially when practiced alone. Whether learning properly is from a more experienced buddy or from a professional instructor it doesn't really matter so long as it is done in a structured and safe way.

My real fear is that it will only take a couple of public injuries or deaths to make life very hard for everyone - and the risk of injuries or deaths are increased as more people join the sport. Without proper moderation of the people teaching the sport (whether they call themselves instructors, club captains or just "buddies") we could end up with the sport being a lot more "underground" than it is today.

Part of a sport growing up is formalising the education around it and people turning professional (either as athletes or instructors). This won't always sit well with the pioneers in the sport. Likewise we need to make sure the sport doesn't become a very tight niche of elitist instructors who teach a small number of people for large amounts of money - that is another way of killing the sport.

Overall I have to say I think we are going in the right direction - however we have to be constantly evaluating what is going on and whether it is benefitting the sport as a whole.
 
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naiad

Apnea Carp
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Stephan Whelan said:
The answer is to provide numerous routes into the sport - whether that is reading Umberto's Book, DeeperBlue articles, chatting in the forums, joining a club or getting onto a course.
I agree. Different people are used to learning in different ways. This may be due to many things, such as the time and money they have to spend, and the way they have learnt skills in the past.

Stephan Whelan said:
My real fear is that it will only take a couple of public injuries or deaths to make life very hard for everyone - and the risk of injuries or deaths are increased as more people join the sport. Without proper moderation of the people teaching the sport (whether they call themselves instructors, club captains or just "buddies") we could end up with the sport being a lot more "underground" than it is today.
That's true, but nothing can be risk-free. With other sports, such as football or long-distance running, if there is a fatality there is very little risk of the sport being banned. Scuba diving is a 'risky' sport, and I hear about fatalities and injuries all the time. That is simply because the sports are well known, so we accept the risks. By the laws of probability, the more people who do something, the more likely it is that there will be accidents. There is no such thing as 100% safety, even if we obey all the rules.

Also, there will always be rogue individuals with no regard for their own safety, and nothing can stop them from diving alone and taking foolish risks.

Of course, proper moderation of instructors is vital.

Stephan Whelan said:
Overall I have to say I think we are going in the right direction - however we have to be constantly evaluating what is going on and whether it is benefitting the sport as a whole.
I am very happy with what I have seen so far. On the whole, the freedivers I have met have been very sensible and responsible. I have seen much less dangerous and stupid behaviour in freediving sessions than in public swimming sessions.

Lucia
 
Gambit7

Gambit7

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May 16, 2006
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If there is no substitute for one-on-one training, and people know this... then disseminating experience via a book or informative website, forum thread, etc. shouldn't be a problem.
Virtually every subject on this earth has relevant data that everyday people can easily obtain. Witholding any just seems elitist to me.
To give an example, there have been MANY people asking about CO2/O2 static tables, yet people who KNOW about them or have access to them through a PFI manual, Umberto's book, etc. seem a lil hesitant to educate fully on the topic. This I find wrong.
As for training and learning, all one has to do is step into the water for the first time and they'll IMMEDIATELY (if they have any sense) realize that going at this alone and/or uneducated is a recipe for disaster, let alone futile. This to me, is the main reason behind instruction. I myself have hit a brick wall, simply because I cant find a reliable training partner. No amount of instruction can really help me there, because obviously I'm not gonna hire someone to sit there with me day after day.

This was my point in the past, instruction/education is just the tip of the iceberg. You cant really "certify" effective training/experience.

Now, it might be interesting to have some kind of dive certification/award that merely says how deep and long you're able to do. But, as before, this is easily handled through organized gatherings and competitions... which we need more of.

As for instructors, I agree with Cliff, they need to make money to offset costs. And I also agree about the 20-30m limitations. Going further is not really as cost-effective or beneficial to student or instructor. In that, we need more instructors. Perhaps we DO need standardized manuals and training practices. What say you on this?

I think a good start is simply to publish a pure training manual, deviated only by personal abilities of the students/instructors. Something clear-cut and easy to follow. Like a curriculum. This would make it easy for people, clubs, and instructors to educate and train effectively.

Sitting and waiting for a beuracracy to develop to me is foolish. Just get the info. out there and get people into the water. The smart ones will seek out guys like Cliff, who are fully trained to teach. Others may be beyond that already. Some may not be able to afford it. Some may be mavericks. Either way, knowledge is power. The motivational factor comes with good people/instructors at your side.
 
J

jimqpublic

Love snorkeling in warm water.
May 4, 2006
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Cliff Etzel said:
Fondue - that is exactly what I am thinking for my area. 20 meters max with some safety divers - this discussion is touching on a concept of networked freedive instructors for the U.S.

...

To be honest I don't need world class instruction, but it is comforting that the PFI instructors are quite capable of easily doing a rescue freedive to the bottom of the 100' static line used in the class. With a PADI-type certified instructor I wouldn't expect them to be capable of 80m constant ballast so I would want SCUBA safety divers.
 
Cliff Etzel

Cliff Etzel

PFI Freedive Instructor in training, Photographer
Jul 7, 2000
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I don't profess to know it all, only what I know up to this point.

Regarding the cert process - Scuba certs are given when a student shows the instructor that they have a rudamentary understanding of all skills that are required in order to obtain a C card. I believe it should be similar for freediving - not so much to say someone has performed a certain depth or to get an official C card. It should be about learning the ins and outs of freediving at an acceptable level of understanding as perceived by the instructor - both in academics and in water practical application. The tough part is defining a price point that doesn't go overboard, yet isn't under valued to the point of not receiving some sort of income from ones experience.

That being said, the total cost of freediving is substantially less as compared to scuba. If one only takes a single course to learn the critical attributes of freediving - both in academics and in-water application - one typically has maybe spent the cost for an open water scuba cert (I charge less than any of the commercial entities do). Add the cost of mask, snorkel and fins (typical Cressi setup can be had thru DB's scuba store for around $125.00 USD plus shipping, along with a decent freedive wetsuit (Typical 5mm freedive suit is around $250 plus $25 for booties plus shipping) - the cost is still much less as compared to scuba cert and all the added equipment. Then the rest of the time is spent repeating the skills taught in the course with followup mentoring as needed.

In my opinion, this is the ideal way to teach - if freedivers, who typically are people who spearfish, would curb their spending on multiple spearguns - and instead took the cost of just one mid-range speargun and applied it to a structured course - then the excuse of not being able to afford it goes out the door. I know what spearguns cost and most hunters buy multiple guns because they are gear junkies... For crying out loud - it's just a gun...
 
N

naiad

Apnea Carp
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Cliff Etzel said:
In my opinion, this is the ideal way to teach - if freedivers, who typically are people who spearfish, would curb their spending on multiple spearguns - and instead took the cost of just one mid-range speargun and applied it to a structured course - then the excuse of not being able to afford it goes out the door.
Maybe there's some confusion arising because freedivers are more likely to spearfish in some parts of the world than others. Here in the UK, there are many freedivers who are not spearos, just recreational or competitive freedivers. Most of them are not 'gear junkies' and only buy the gear that they need for training. Those who do buy lots of gear are generally already certified.

Lucia
 
fcallagy

fcallagy

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Feb 26, 2005
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I think Stephens right when he says we are going in the right direction at present and agree it has to be evaluated constantly. I did my scuba training through a club but had been diving shallow for 2 years before, uncertifed. I now help out with teaching scuba in the pool etc to newbies with general skills mask removal etc and bouyancy. I did the sett course which was a commercial AIDA course via deeperblue and felt my money very well spent. The sett tank is an experiance in itself and I can,t see a safer training environment anywhere. The training I recieved was great thanks to Sam and Emma but like education was I just lucky that I had great instuctors the weekend I did the course ? I don,t think so because of visiting this site plenty of times before I had the confidence that the course would be good. When we make a purchasing decision we have to have confidence in the person (s) we are buying from. In education at schools we probably all had teachers that were great and were born to teach and others that were not so great ( putting it kindly ). I think that at present because the sport is still in its infancy the instructors are passionate and really do want to pass you as a safe freediver. I would be more worried down the road as the sport grows and there may be an opportunity to make some money that we may then have problems with some instructors as it is then just a job to them, so constant evaluation will be key.
Gambit,
Re your point on tables I can,t see where your coming from I know lots of people ask about them but from what I could see their questions were always answered in the forums. There was even a great beginner freediving thred started with a lot of info re the tables because a lot of people were giving the same info over and over again every time a newbie joined and couln,t or didn,t search for info first. From what I saw if they still had a problem their questions were answered. The tables themselves are easily enough got I think.
Spearos I think would usually learn from other spearos rather than attend a course although there were two on the sett course with me. I can,t see too many buying a wetsuit and gun and heading for open water although I'm sure its happened.
My biggest concern is something like David Balines stunt which I thought was great until I saw a 8 year old on his own holding his breath on the bottom of my local pool which I presume was as a result of it. Its when something awful leads on from this kind of activity that we would feel a knee jerk reaction towards our sport.
Sorry for the long post
 
N

naiad

Apnea Carp
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fcallagy said:
I did the sett course which was a commercial AIDA course via deeperblue and felt my money very well spent. The sett tank is an experiance in itself and I can,t see a safer training environment anywhere.
I am going to the SETT in two weeks, I can't wait!

fcallagy said:
My biggest concern is something like David Balines stunt which I thought was great until I saw a 8 year old on his own holding his breath on the bottom of my local pool which I presume was as a result of it. Its when something awful leads on from this kind of activity that we would feel a knee jerk reaction towards our sport.
That is exactly what I feared would happen. :(
[ame="http://forums.deeperblue.net/showpost.php?p=590884&postcount=8"]DeeperBlue Forums - View Single Post - David Blaine?[/ame]
 
fcallagy

fcallagy

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Lucia you will love the course I'm sure. From a staying warm point of view when you are out of the pool and back to the class room there are dressing gowns provided but if you really feel the cold might be no harm to bring something else as well.
 
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Walrus

Walrus

Oz freediver
Oct 3, 2001
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Hi All,
just one thing I've noticed is that everyone keeps refering to freediving being so new or a sport in it's infancy. While the competitive side is relatively new, freediving in fact is the oldest form of diving. Freediving has been around for thousands of years. In fact re-breathers were invented before scuba. Scuba is the newest form of diving. :)

Wal
 
Walrus

Walrus

Oz freediver
Oct 3, 2001
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Oh and Lucia have fun at the SETT,
a 30m tower with perfect warm water clear sounds pretty cool, Ben told me about his course there.
 
P

poacher

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Dec 28, 2002
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Sorry to jump in late and being lazy have not read all the posts,
I want to know what was meant by Freediving versus AIDA ?
I did the AIDA level 2 course withe extreme in Sydney and it was very good in my opinion, I have been spearfihing for years and learnt a lot and got some good improvements in relaxation depth and safety from the course learning proper breathing techniques versus just trying to belt back down at the fish as soon as I felt half decent again helps a lot.
Peter
 
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