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Terminology of free diving

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snorklebum

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Aug 21, 2001
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This has been driving me nuts. What do you call this stuff?
First of all, I'm slowing accepting (thought it makes me really mad) that people have come to think of "diving" as only Scuba Diving, and that diving without tanks is "just snorkeling". Since I consider tankers to be wimps and tourist, not really athletes so much as people trying to be submarines, this reall smarts, but there it is.
So we have "free diving". Except that as soon as you mention that everybody wants to know how deep you've gone, as though free diving is only depth competition. Where as I tend to think any diving done without prostheses to be "free diving", in the way that climbing without mechanical assists is "free climbing". More confusion.
Then you get spearfishing into the mix. Half the "free diving" sites and magazines turn out to be about spearfishing. Which is definitely an awesome extreme of free diving, allright...but a little narrower than the term should suggest.
Should we cook up a new term for diving without using air tanks? Or more carefully define the terms we already have? Or just get used to the confusion?
 

Stephan Whelan

Papa Smurf
Staff member
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Jan 7, 1999
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Terminology

Snorklebum,

To be honest, I always thought it to be quite clear. Here is how I see it breaking down:

Diving - A sport where the "diver" proceeds under the water for a period of time

Scuba Diving - Where the diver uses air tanks to help sustain their life whilst diving for extended periods of time

Freediving - Breath-hold diving where the diver proceeds to the depths using on one breath. Various disciplines are available for competition freediving including constant ballast, variable ballast and no-limits (to name three)

Spearfishing - Use of a speargun to hunt underwater. Most Spearfishermen are also freedivers as they can get closer to the fish than they can with Scuba kit.

Apnea - Breath-holding without decending to the depths. Can be static or dynamic

Technical Diving - Scuba divers that push the envelope by diving in conditions beyond most sport divers (for example very deep or in No Clear Surface situations). Usually require more equipment and training.

I think that pretty much covers the different areas. Let me know if you think i've missed anything.
 

Erik

Well-Known Member
Jan 21, 2001
4,731
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Swimmimg

I saw an ad in a Club Med book last year where Umberto was hosting a couple of weeks of "No-Tank-Diving", as they called it. I wondered why they would call it that, and then realised that too many morons would think that they wouldn't have to pay for Scuba lessons if they called it "Freediving". Or at least try to sue Club Med for free -diving (confusing, I know). It reminds me of how one loser spilled coffee on her self, then sued McDonalds for 2 million US$. Now every coffe company has to print "Caution- coffee is hot" on their paper cups:head .
I have actually had people ask me what I did on holiday, at which point I told them that I went freediving, and was asked where they could go diving for free:duh .
Now, when people ask me where I went, or where my tanks are, I just tell them I'm going swimming, and leave it at that.
Salud,
Erik Young
 

Cliff Etzel

Photographer & Visual Storyteller
Jul 7, 2000
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How do some people get into the gene pool?

Erik - I laughed my A$$ off at this one...

Thanks for the little bit of humor in what has been a very crappy day for me...
 

snorklebum

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Aug 21, 2001
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Sorry, but I don't think your list is all that clear.
For one thing, "apnea" is pretty much the European word for freediving, or tank-free diving or whatever.
For another, your identification of free-diving tends towards depth competition exclusively, while MANY people think it just means diving without equipment.
You COULD call tank-free diving just "diving" -- leading, of course, to confusion with the use of the term for what Greg Louganis does (in public that is). But the average person has (and it pisses me off continuously) associated the term with tank diving.
There are also forms of diving such as hard hat and hookah which don't fit into that schema. So I continue to wonder, "what should we call recreational diving without the use of tanks and other prostheses"?
 

Cliff Etzel

Photographer & Visual Storyteller
Jul 7, 2000
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:D Professional Snorkeling?

But seriously, when people ask me what I am doing, I tell them Breath hold diving.

Immediately they get it.

So that's what I call it - "Breath Hold Diving"
 
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Stephan Whelan

Papa Smurf
Staff member
Admin
Jan 7, 1999
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Snorklebum,

For one thing, "apnea" is pretty much the European word for freediving, or tank-free diving or whatever.

Well - this could be seen as true, since the word is used in non-english languages as meaning "Freediving", although considering I thought we were talking about English terminology I caused confusion, i'm sorry. In english apnea tends to used to describe non-descent versions of Freediving.

For another, your identification of free-diving tends towards depth competition exclusively, while MANY people think it just means diving without equipment.

Well I hate to split hairs here but my description of Freediving was:

Breath-hold diving where the diver proceeds to the depths using on one breath.

I then went on to describe that competition freediving contains other disciplines. It is not that easy to split the two (apart from probably no-limits) as the basic equipment is the same and some "recreational" freedivers will lean towards depths and times that are more competition than what you might classify as "fun".

You COULD call tank-free diving just "diving" -- leading, of course, to confusion with the use of the term for what Greg Louganis does (in public that is).

I agree you could it "diving" but diving as a term refers to several sports or disciplines - including the high-board style of diving available in the olympics.

But the average person has (and it pisses me off continuously) associated the term with tank diving.

Ah - and now we get to the real discussion :cool:. There is a definate difference in how the sports are described on paper (or theory) and what the "layperson" would understand. I agree with Cliff totally, when I talk to people I use the term "breath-hold diving" for Freediving and "Scuba Diving" for, well, Scuba Diving. It makes it easy and simple for people who aren't familiar with the different sports.

You can't expect the general public to truly understand the real use of the term "freediving" or "diving" at the moment, even "Diving" referring to Scuba is still not 100% understood by people - I frequently had to qualify what I meant.
 

snorklebum

New Member
Aug 21, 2001
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Breath hold diving sounds good. I doubt there's much hope in educating people in general, especially those who've gone to Scuba school.
Personally, I tend to use the term "real diving", as opposed to tank-assisted.

I've never heard of apnea used to apply to static, but every website and magazine in Europe (and Asia) uses the term for freediving. What language is it from in the first place?
 

Stephan Whelan

Papa Smurf
Staff member
Admin
Jan 7, 1999
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Snorklebum,

Educating people is very difficult, us humans don't (generally) learning new things - we're resistant to change...but as Freediving grows as a sport, you'll find a greater understanding of the terms...this can only be driven from specialist and mainstream media.

"Real diving" is a good term but may cause confusion to most people - I tried the term on a couple of people I know this morning and their first question was "what is real about it?" - these are non-divers as well, but hey - we're all nit-picking about terms here, use whichever makes you comfortable and your peers understand.

"Apnea" is a Greek word and literally means "without breath." Until Freediving took off it was mainly used in the medical profession to describe a type of sleeping disorder. In official naming of categories for Competition Freediving it is used to describe both Static and Dynamic breath holds in the pool.
 

andrsn

Just visiting...
Aug 26, 2001
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snorklebum,

i've been diving with a group in the keys for so long that "diving" actually means "freediving". we all spearfish, but when one asks what we did over the weekend, a simple "went diving" sums up it all.

my favorite quote/saying...

scuba divers descend to look around themselves. freedivers descend to look inside themselves.
 

snorklebum

New Member
Aug 21, 2001
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Andrsn
I'd love to be in an environment like that. And i really dig the quote. My own, which isn't all that different, maybe, is

Freedivers are trying to become marine mammals, scuba divers are trying to turn into unpiloted submarines.
 

Erik

Well-Known Member
Jan 21, 2001
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Originally posted by snorklebum
[
Freedivers are trying to become marine mammals, scuba divers are trying to turn into unpiloted submarines. [/B]

Or unsubmarined pilots?
Erik y.
 

andrsn

Just visiting...
Aug 26, 2001
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snorklebum,

i really don't consider scuba diving as a way to experience different underwater environments. i think the sense of sound is extremely important to have when underwater and bubble blowers pretty much just hear their own noise.

i think walking through aquariums is more fun than scuba diving and a lot less costly and dangerous!

i think the other saying is that freedivers see the underwater world on a macro scale from all depths as opposed to scuba's "what's right in front of them".

Anderson
 

laminar

Well-Known Member
Aug 13, 2001
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How about saying we're "pearl divers?" Inaccurate, I know (I haven't seen any pearls in the North Pacific or in the bottom of the pool), but everyone gets that. Breath-hold diver works the best, then I introduce the term freediver, "free from equipment that hinders you underwater." Then I pull out my monofin.

It's amazing to me how little Scuba divers see. Often I'll plant myself right in front of them, maybe five feet away, and have to move because they're going to blunder right into me. One of my favourite things is Scuba encounters because it usaully leads to a discussion afterwards. Especially if you meet them at 90 feet where's its dark (you hone in on their lights). I keep my distance though, seeing a black shape with a monofin in bad viz could panic a Scuba diver, I suppose.

Pete
Vancouver, BC
 

Cabo Kid

New Member
Sep 4, 2001
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My impression is that ANYTHING out of the ordinary will panic a scuba diver.
My own quote on this thing, "Scuba divers are tourists, free divers live here."
 

Cliff Etzel

Photographer & Visual Storyteller
Jul 7, 2000
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Originally posted by Cabo Kid
My impression is that ANYTHING out of the ordinary will panic a scuba diver.
My own quote on this thing, "Scuba divers are tourists, free divers live here."

Excellent personal quote...
 

Sander

New Member
Jul 10, 2005
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So I continue to wonder, "what should we call recreational diving without the use of tanks and other prostheses"?[/QUOTE]
Swimming in the nude I think..... rofl
 

chasintail

New Member
Aug 19, 2005
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[my favorite quote/saying...

scuba divers descend to look around themselves. freedivers descend to look inside themselves.[/QUOTE]


Thats awesome Andy!!
 

subaquaticus

Fond of the Red Sea
Oct 10, 2004
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Re: Swimmimg

Erik said:
I saw an ad in a Club Med book last year where Umberto was hosting a couple of weeks of "No-Tank-Diving", as they called it. I wondered why they would call it that, and then realised that too many morons would think that they wouldn't have to pay for Scuba lessons if they called it "Freediving". Or at least try to sue Club Med for free -diving (confusing, I know).

Very funny !! rofl :)

Interesting wordplay...

In French you cannot make the same mistake...

for freediving you say "plongée libre", but "free" in the sense where you pay nothing is "gratuit"....
 

naiad

Apnea Carp
Supporter
Oct 11, 2003
2,897
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Once there was a misunderstanding about that - I told a swimming teacher that I go freediving, and she understood that I join a scuba diving club and don't pay anything, so I don't get any tanks and I have to sit on the bottom of the pool holding my breath. rofl
 
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