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We need education!

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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Ben Gowland

Aplysia gowlandicus
Apr 4, 2002

I was just going through some of the messages on the thread concerning blackouts and was astonished and dismayed by the lack of knowledge of blackout physiology and safety practices.

When I started serious breatholding - I was in the same situation and now regard myself lucky for not having a really bad/fatal experience over that period.

This just drives home the point that those of us who are educated in the ways of physiology and safe practices have a responsiblity to teach and most importantly regulate breatholding practices globaly.

It is appalling that there are competitions and clubs around that indirectly encourage people to 'go home and try it yourself' without formalised education and training. I know there are some standards available and some being developed, but what scares me is that this seems to be a low ranked priority in the world of freediving.

Thoughts on how to implement this successfully?
Hi Ben,
I think the concept is good, but on the personal level for most people it's learn on your own. W/ todays internet capabilities most people can jump on the web and learn a great deal. Take this site for example. By scanning this site you would think there are alot of freedivers but in reality we're a very small percentage of the people that enjoy the water. So that being said when someone becomes interested in learning freediving its hard to find a knowledgeable person to teach you. The infos out there, its up to the person to find it and apply it. Check out the other threads we've had on regulating freediving and training, its probably in the General or techniques section.

Hi Ben.

Lets look at the Scuba diving associations of the world. They have relatively successfully established formal training programmes around the world. Who do you know that wilfully goes scuba diving without having done a diving course even tho you can have your certified buddy fill for you and do a shore entry if the resorts wont allow you on their boat ? Their marketing has targeted a big driver in most peoples psyche. EGO.

The dive associations survive only because there is money in it and the *members are the usually quite egotistical badge collectors providing it. ie 'Dive master', 'wreck diver', 'nitrox diver', 'deep diver' !!! etc. They do do courses 'inter alia' to boost their 'dive god' status with their peers at the dive club. Not that these courses are hollow - on the contrary, they are very educational and this usually sinks in too. Point is marketing, money and ego play a large part in driving the machine.

For freediving to become a sport where education is as accessible freediving would need to follow the same path of courses and badges. Marketing will target the EGO. Ie 'im an advanced deep freediver"." I can dive to 30m ", and the girls go weak at the knees, and the dive clubs will thrive, education will abound and the machine will work.

Whilst i'm for saving lives, fortunately, according to my thinking i dont believe that there will ever be enough money in it ( too few participants ) for things to go this way en mass, and people will have to learn through clubs and forums like this. Only a handfull will receive professional training at clinics and the like.

Equipment is low tech and doesnt need a course to learn to operate. But having said that, probably the most money lies in equipment ( wetsuits, spearguns, masks, fins etc ) sales at the present and perhaps these manufacturers / distributors may feel morally compelled to circulate basic warnings, ie printed on the box, with their equipment to alert the uneducated buyer of at least the basic pitfall of SWB.

* Many, but not all of them obviously.
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Very interesting!!

I have to agree with Ben, there is a lack of structured info. I am a new-bee myself and it has been quite difficult to get formalised education. The likes of this site and its members has helped me immensely though (thanks by the way!!), but I never considered practising alone - advice that I was given on this site

Skindiver compares it to SCUBA and is correct in saying it will probably never be as 'big' a sport and therefore not generate enough money to provide education in the format of courses. But I do feel that some sort of course would help promote the sport. At the moment a lot of people have their view on how this should be done. My mum (for some reason) always used to say "When doctors opinions differ, people die". Not trying to sound too morbid, but I think it relates quite well.

The simple fact is that no matter how many rules and regulations are in place and no matter so long as people have access to the relevant equipment they can take part in any sport with no formal training. There is nothing stopping you jumping out of a plane if you owned a parachute and a plane of course! If you have your own SCUBA gear and compressor there is nothing stopping you diving on your own, beyond your depth or even unqualified.

What I am getting at is that if you really want to freedive without education, experience and buddies you will. At least if a course structure was in place people would have an option. By giving people that option hopefully you wouldn't get as many people experiencing the bad side of such a great sport.

Stay safe, have fun, be cool!
Small indeed...

I too was looking for classes relating to freediving. I found most of the ones that Cliff mentioned by looking on the net. But most of my knowledge came from reading papers about general diving physiology when I started looking at SCUBA classes and from this forum. (Lurked for a good month before even registering. :) ). The classes that cliff mentioned would be great if I lived near one of them. As it is one of those classes would have to BE my vacation, without my wife(not interested) or daughter(too young). That will likely be the case for quite some time.

To further the SCUBA contrasting... There are 24 scuba shops within a 25 mile radius of my house here in Phoenix. That is just the ones that show up in the Internet Yellow Pages. While I was in one the other day I mentioned freediving to the owner and he said one of his employees freedives. He also said the guy is always wondering if he's the only freediver in the entire state of Arizona. I also heard once that Arizona has the U.S.'s third largest diving population behind CA and FL. Whether that is true or not there are obviously lots of divers in the Phoenix area. If you have trouble finding another freediver in a metro area of 3 million people that support at least two dozen dive shops, well that says it all. If you don't live in one of the freediving hot spots, your outa luck on formal education without turning that education into a trip in its own right. For some there is no question, do the trip. For many of us though, we have other things to try and balance our freediving interest against. For us its much harder to justify that trip.

So from me, and probably everyone else here that can't justify the trip, a very hearty Thank You to all those that visit here and willingly share what they know.

I don't know if I agree that it will never be that big though. Not as big as SCUBA, but there is a huge potential audience. They once said the same things about rock climbing, and probably about SCUBA. But all those one with nature, deeper life experience (pardon the pun) types out there are a prime target if anyone ever decides to crank up a marketing machine behind this sport. Just like in rock climbing, 95% would never compete beyond the local level if at all. But lots of people could find it to be a great way to focus your energies and be "one with the world". The question will more likely be what kind of freediving population can the few good recreational spots (i.e. site seeing, photo ops, and spear fishing) support? And how many will the locals accept? :ban or :martial

You probably have to ask yourself what you want out of the education and figure out whether it would be worth it. I just took the Performance Freediving Clinic and knew going in that it would be worthwhile for me. Even if the class was only offered in Canada and I would have had to travel to Vancouver to take the clinic I would still do it.

Several years ago, when I was deep into photography, I came to a plateau and needed education to break out to a higher level of creative competence. I saved my spending money and took a week off as vacation and flew to Maine in order to study under a National Geographic veteran.

But then, you can't kill yourself taking photographs as easily as freediving.

my $.02,
Peter S.
That's why its freediving, mon

The reason why I am into freediving, and not into scuba, is precisely because its freediving: no certification classes, no equipment checking, no dive masters, blah blah. Sure, performance clinics exist, and they are not a bad thing, but I suspect that freedivers have a built-in resistance to all of that structure and would prefer the simplicity of holding their breath, diving in, then going up.

Incidentally, I live in the central business district here in the Capital city of the Philippines, and there are about 10 dive shops/schools within a three kilometer radius of my home. In one of them, there is a single pair of Cressi Gara2000s, and the store manager told me he has sold ONE pair so far, to a freediver from the US. It is very possible that I am also the only freediver in this part of the country.

On the other hand, there are lots traditional spearos who hunt fish for their supper out in the more remote parts of the Philippines, and I am sure some of these guys could outdive many more "educated" freedivers in the west. But then again, unless I am mistaken, even Pippin Fereiras was an uneducated spearo once.

raises hand from the back row, and...

Here we go folks... define freediving and how or is it different than just throwing in a snorkel and puttering around the flats, not wearing SCUBA gear...

We need to define what is we are going to educate.

An inch and a breath?

Wasn't it Terry Maas who defined freediving as "a breath and an inch"? In other words, anyone who takes a breath of air and goes an inch underwater qualifies as a freediver.
Well said Sven, and you have alluded to what I was trying to incite here.

Cliff has pointed out that there are lots of courses one can go - mostly based around performance. Randy then points out that the whole point of freediving is about freedom - no rules etc.

We knew all that already.

However, my major point here was our RESPONSIBILITY to the public in producing courses that offer QUALIFICATIONS to people that state that they are competent in the physiology and protocols of freediving SAFETY.

They can then go to a place and show their 'card' to a dive tour operator and then that operator knows that this person will be acting responsibily (or at least have sufficient knowledge to act responsibly). That is what it comes down to (in my eyes) and I do not think that such a qualification exists - they all seem to be about how deep/long you can go. Which in my eyes is a travesty.

I for one would like to go to foreign climes and know that the buddy I was paired up with on a reef was going to watch out for me and that I would do the same for him/her. Would anyone trust their life to someone they didn't know was QUALIFIED to do that?
have card can dive....

Noted on your point regarding qualifications, Ben.

I sure hope that freediving doesn't end up being like the "no card, no dive" system that SCUBA currently has, though. But if you had your way, it probably will end up that way. Since guys like me are about ten thousand miles from the nearest certification body (give or take a few thousand miles), then I am sure I will not be able to get my card, which also means that I can no longer rent a boat, join some scoobies, etc...

I'm all for education. Its this card carrying business I'm against.
I think Sven was right, you can't define a difference between freediving and snorkelling (unless it really is "an inch and a breath"). So you can't introduce a "no card no dive" system unless snorkelling was subject to the same rules (which it won't be, thank God). Even in shallow water there's a potential for freediving fatalities if you do long horizontal swims. You could introduce a card that might stop the unqualified renting a boat, but then they would swim out from shore, which would be more dangerous because they would be tired.

If I were to check out a new buddy for competence, I think i would rather do it from his attitude and from talking to him rather than because he had a qualification. I've known certified scuba divers I wouldn't have trusted with a foam rubber vase.

But I think there is a massive case for education. I was recently talking to a scuba divemaster who told me about his freediving experiences, which basically seemed to involve going to 50ft until he was absolutely, absolutely busting for breath, and then exhaling all the way to the surface. Alone. Which didn't sound too good to me. There have been comments hereabouts that making freediving more popular or more in the public eye would give people the idea to go out there and do it without training, with disastrous results, but I think people like the guy I mentioned are already doing this. I was snorkelling down to about 10ft depth before I ever heard of freediving or blackouts, the only reason i didn;t go deeper was that I didn't know how to equlaise. If I had known, maybe I would have been tempted to go down as deep as possible, and maybe I would have drowned.

There are not and cannot be any barriers to entry with freediving, because you need no specialist kit or location. So surely it makes sense to educate as many people as possible that might potential want to do it. Or at least make people know that there are things they should definitely find out about before they do it.

I was looking at the BSAC website a while ago, and they were talking about starting a special sorkelling programme because of the enormous potential demand. There are apparantly as much as 8 times as many people who snorkel in reef sites as go scuba diving. Most of these stay on the surface. This might be because they don't like the idea of holding their breath, are afraid of going under the surface, or are simply unfit. But I bet there are loads of people who snorkel, who like to dive under, but who have never heard of freediving or have any idea how long they should hold their breath or how to train for longer breath-holds or how to equalise effectively or, most importantly, what the safety considerations are.

So I don't think any distinction should be made between snorkelling and freediving, any more than should be made between 15m freedivers and 20m freedivers. But are there any practical ways to get education to people who don't already know enough about freediving to, for example, get to this site?

Sorry for the waffle. Had a kind of finger-rush there ...

Originally posted by Ben Gowland

I for one would like to go to foreign climes and know that the buddy I was paired up with on a reef was going to watch out for me and that I would do the same for him/her. Would anyone trust their life to someone they didn't know was QUALIFIED to do that?

SCUBA divers going foreign do every day, and many get hurt or make it out and write some expose' for the back page of a dive rag, i.e, This Happened to Me... Just because some one has a card, NAUI, PADI, and I should put you CMAS types at the front, doesn't make you some Teflon-coated genius that I'll trust first or tenth time out. Been there and done that and that's a thread in itself.

I agree it'd be fine to have minimums for all divers to have and indeed my thread, Freediving as a Fad, brought this up and elicited a howl of indignation from a lot of us individualists. Maybe one of you Forum Mentor types can put a link in here somewheres...

My thing is that I'm going to dive and thus introduce by example- be educated, aware and safe. Then if someone along the way wants to know or needs a talking to, I'll be better able to expound on this stuff. All I'll need after that is luck, and they don't have a badge for that yet.


Well as previously stated, we've covered ALOT of these issues already(please read past posts):confused: Just for some background info on me so you can see where I'm coming from. I've been scuba cert. for about 16yrs, Trimix for 5. I work in the Marine research field and lived in the FL Keys for 9yrs.
To say that a cert. card will ensure that the guy you're stuck w/ as a buddy on a dive boat is qualified isn't very wise. After seeing the supposedly "qualified" divers that we've had to rescue and the ones that just by returning to the boat alive was a good dive. It's obvious that certification does not equal qualification. Alot of people look good on paper but when it comes down to where the rubber meets the road its a different story.
I believe as freedivers(and I'm refering to the people that don't just lollygag on the surface pointing at all the pretty fish) we like to learn things on our own. Alot of us had to because there wasn't anyone around that knew anymore than we did. Today there's the internet and its many links, books, videos,mags,ect. I guess it depends on the attitude of the potiential freediver, some people like to be shown something before attempting it, others, to coin a Nike phrase "JUST DO IT". If there's enough people to start basic freediving classes then thats great, but don't let that evolve into the scuba industry scheme of no card, no dive. If someone wants to talk to an actual person about freediving they should see if there is a local club.
Lets face it scuba is easier than freediving and offers more instant gratification than freediving. Therefore will always be much more economically important and sustainable. EXAMPLE: What scuba diver would spend a couple of hours in cold water w/ only a few feet of vis, spending 2/3 or more of the time on the surface or in transit to or from the bottom just to ck the place out or for a possible shot at a fish. The diver goes straight to the bottom, is in contact/sight the whole dive and then surfaces.
Sorry for the tangent but I think it shows that freedivers are a special group and there just aren't that many w/ the mental/physical capacity to "consistantly" do this activity. I guess I have the "lone wolf" mentality but I like diving alone, and no I don't have a death wish. I believe alot of others feel the same way, alot out of necessity. This whole certification thing just goes against alot of this and really wouldn't solve many problems.
Sorry for the rambling and long post.
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no card no dive.....

Even if you wanted to I don't think you could implement such a system. I think the only reason it works for SCUBA is because you have to use the services of a dive centre to dive (be it through air fills or equipment hire) but with freediving you can come and go as you please - and in my view that is the beauty of it

You don't have to be certified in anyway to reach the top of the world (just have to be pretty rich!!!) so why be certified to attempt to go the opposite way?


"Going down?"
via domyessay
For freediving to become a sport where education is as accessible freediving would need to follow the same path of courses and badges. Marketing will target the EGO. Ie 'im an advanced deep freediver"." I can dive to 30m ", and the girls go weak at the knees, and the dive clubs will thrive, education will abound and the machine will work.

I agree entirely. The freediving community is rather small, and the sense of competitiveness may not be that strong as sense of support is overwhelming. I truly enjoy teaching others to freedive, mostly advanced equalization techniques.
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