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Who wouldn’t want to experience the silent calm, the singular beauty, and the excitement you experience when you explore the ocean? What you have recently learned is that there’s more than one way to dive, and bizarrely, many people are choosing to dive without the essential scuba gear. Why?
Divers may choose to practice freediving – diving without the use of a breathing apparatus – to experience a more environmentally friendly and healthier way to dive. Freediving doesn’t allow divers to dive as long or as deep as scuba diving, but it is more soothing and natural.
Are you curious to learn more about this exciting form of diving that is quickly gaining popularity? Keep reading to learn more about the pros and cons, and which form of diving may be right for you.
Diving VS Scuba Diving – What’s the Difference?
If you are new to the world of diving vs scuba diving, you should rightly be wondering what the differences are. Are the differences big? Do they make any difference? Let’s see.
Scuba diving requires at least 6 weeks and at most 6 months of training for various certifications.
Scuba diving requires heavy equipment including the air tank, scuba mask, snorkel, dive fins, regulator, dive weights, depth gauge, and more.
Legally, you are not required to be certified, but it’s important to understand
- Basic operating procedures
- How to handle general environmental hazards
- Emergency self-help and assistance procedures
- Underwater navigation
Freediving doesn’t necessarily have a set limit of required training but there are about 4 different phases: knowledge development, dry training, confined water sessions, and open water sessions.
How long your training is would depend on the trainer and their program.
And of course, freediving only requires three pieces of equipment:
What are the Pros and Cons of Freediving?
We can’t go through all of the pros and cons in depth, but we can still give you a good idea of how enjoyable freediving is while making you aware of the risks.
- The lack of heavy gear creates a freer experience.
- It creates a therapeutic stress-reducing experience in silence.
- You get a new appreciation for the ocean and ocean creatures.
- Free diving makes it possible to do several underwater-based activities such as:
- Recreational hunting or gathering
- Gathering Seashells
- Underwater sports (i.e. rugby, hockey, etc.).
- There’s a much smaller environmental impact.
- You become physically fit.
- You can become more confident and safe in the water.
- Your breathing and lung function improves greatly.
- The adrenaline can be higher than with scuba diving.
- The training required for freediving is much more rigorous.
- Even professional free divers spend less time under the surface than scuba divers.
- You still can’t dive as far as a scuba diver
- You are more vulnerable to environmental hazards
What are the Pros and Cons of Scuba Diving?
Scuba diving is still an incredibly popular diving method, and there are good reasons why.
However, it’s only fair to properly compare diving vs scuba diving by outlining the pros and cons of both.
After all, maybe freediving isn’t for you, but how can you tell without information?
- It takes less intensive training to start scuba diving.
- You will encounter a greater variety of sea life.
- It’s still possible to attain mindfulness and serenity.
- Your gear permits you to withstand harsher conditions
- You experience intense excitement.
- You can explore more.
- You can explore longer.
- The training still takes between 6 weeks to 6 months to complete
- You must breathe calmly to have a longer air supply.
- You have to remember safe ascent rates
- There are no-decompression limits
- There are safety stops
- You can become disoriented more easily because of the depth and environment.
- The environment and animals can burst your air tank.
Diving VS Scuba Diving – Which is Better?
Which diving method is better depends on who you are and what you’re looking for in your diving experience.
Both methods will get you under the water, but if you are a casual diver and you’re on vacation, scuba diving will allow you to get into the water immediately on various scuba guides and tours.
If you are someone who only has 2 weeks to enjoy a vacation and work a very time-consuming job, you’ll probably have very little time to devote to getting fit and expanding your lung capacity and breath-holding time.
However, if you plan far enough ahead, you can absolutely find a remote trainer or at-home training program you can start in the evenings or early mornings leading up to your trip.
This way, you’ll be able to more easily enjoy the freedom from a time-restricted and expensive guide and dive into places those guides can’t. Not to mention all the other benefits that come with freediving.
How Does Freediving Work?
The training for free diving can be pretty intense if you intend to dive competitively, but even if you intend to do free diving such as
- Recreational hunting or gathering
- Gathering Seashells
The same disciplines and techniques will help you considerably.
There are breathing techniques, stretching, breath-hold exercises, dieting, and mental exercises specified for recreational free diving too, which we’ll focus on here.
Training starts out of the water, and it’s called “dry training”. You start by lying down on a bed while you practice holding your breath. Breath holding while walking should be done with a partner.
Then, you would be introduced to carbon dioxide and oxygen training tables. This is a method used to increase your breath-hold time.
Finally, there is the rest of the physical training. Relaxation is actually key to free diving, but even just being generally fit will make free diving longer, and easier.
Any fitness training will work but during cardio and strength, you can practice holding your breath and adapt to anaerobic respiration.
How Long Can You Freedive?
For the casual free diver, we might be able to hold our breath between 30-90 seconds before we have to resurface.
That isn’t very long and doesn’t let us get very deep in the water, though. Maybe with enough practice, we can hold our breath for 3 minutes, which can certainly allow us to see much more, but even that isn’t very long.
But this is the casual free diver. Free diving is also an active competitive sport. Many freedivers train their way to holding their breath for 10 minutes or even longer!
For example, the French champion competitive free diver, Guillaume Néry, has been able to hold his breath for more than 7 minutes while diving to a depth of 125 meters!
There’s an excellent National Geographic video of his where he dives and swims to levels you and I might never have thought possible for a man.
In the video below, you can watch him explore Japan’s Atlantis and swim among a pod of sperm whales!
So, it turns out freediving is actually pretty exciting, huh? By now, you can probably see why people are excited to throw off the cumbersome air tanks that we so often associate with diving.
You don’t even need to hook yourself up to some kind of floating air supply like snuba diving.