Tips for Entry Level Freedivers & Spearos

Freediving,  breath hold diving, skin diving or spearing is a form of underwater diving that relies on the individual’s ability to hold their breath until resurfacing rather than relying on the use of a breathing apparatus such as scuba gear.

Freediving is a fantastic sport for everyone and you don’t have to be an athlete to enjoy it. Freediving is more about relaxation, mind set and technique, than it is strength. Your goal is to connect with the water and enjoy all the feelings and sensations. Underwater on one breath is a great place to be, so remember to always appreciate every minute of it and enjoy your diving.

When it comes to exploring a new challenge like freediving, it’s wise to know a few tips and tricks to help get you started whilst developing safe habits from the get go. For those ready to experience what this great sport is all about and enjoy the peace of the underwater world on a single breath here are some great tips for beginner freedivers and spearos.

Never Dive Alone

This is the number one and most important rule in freediving, or any time you’re in the water for that matter. The buddy system is very important and should never be disregarded. It’s essential to watch out for each other, learn to safety each other in every dive shallow or deep, and of course everything is always more fun to share with someone or a group of people. You will learn the reasons for never diving alone in the PADI Freediver course.

Always Use a Dive Flag

By using a dive flag you are letting the surrounding boating traffic know that there are Freedivers in the water and that diving operations are in progress. By Australian law, the skipper of a vessel must avoid an area displaying a Dive Flag by 200 metres. If the vessel must travel through the diving area, then the vessel’s speed must be no greater than 5 knots within 200 metres of the dive flag. This is required to avoid collisions between divers and vessels and allows the vessel significantly more time to safely maneuver to avoid the divers.

A dive flag is an absolute MUST have item for every Freediver and they are also required by law in many states and territories of Australia. In Australia, we use an Alpha Flag as our designated Dive Flag. This is a White flag with a Blue swallow tail as seen below.

When selecting your Dive Flag there are plenty of options available on the market these days. Essentially freedivers who are diving from a boat will use a separate Dive Flag that  can be mounted prominently from the boats UHF aerial or pole. Whilst divers entering the water from the shore line will opt for a Dive Float and Flag that can be easily towed in the water behind the diver. This way the dive flag always follows the diver around in the water.

Take the PADI Freediver course

Knowledge is power and even the worlds best Freedivers never stop learning about their sport, their bodies and the processes that occur when freediving. On the PADI Freediver course you will learn what your body has the capability of and of course the safety aspects of the sport, which is indispensable. Taking a freediving course will introduce you to the basic elements of the sport in a step by step manner, under the direct supervision of an experienced Instructor which will build your confidence and experience in freediving.

Have fun!

Remember to always enjoy the beauty of what surrounds us in the water. It’s like nothing else in this world. You have the ability to stay underwater on one breath of air, so enjoy the silence, peacefulness, and beauty of it all. Joining a school of fish, diving with a pod of dolphins, or simply taking underwater photos, every freediver will live in the moment and feel truly free.

Learn about your environment and protect it

Our oceans and shorelines are struggling and they need our help. A good place to start is at your local dive spots. Get involved in a local beach and ocean cleanup. Cleanup Australia have been involved for years in cleaning up Australia’s shorelines and coastlines to help create a better future for the health of our Oceans and our precious marine life. There is also PADI’s Project Aware  which has done some amazing things for our oceans worldwide. So take part and get involved in helping to create a healthier tomorrow for everyone to enjoy. Start with yourself, be an advocate for the ocean, and if you see others disrespecting it, educate them. We only get one chance with our oceans and we really need to pay attention and help them any way we can.

Relax, Relax, Relax

Relaxation is the key to freediving. Deep, slow, calm breaths help lower your heart rate so that your body will conserve oxygen. Every tense muscle uses heaps of oxygen and energy. Freediving will teach you how to learn to relax your body through different breathing and relaxation techniques in freediving courses and clinics. Some exercises are borrowed from yoga practices, so you may already recognise some of them.

Visualise

A good way to prepare for your dives is with the use of visualisation. Visualise happy things and peaceful surroundings and your mind will automatically relax your body and lower your heart rate. Visualisation can be used pre dive as well as during your dive. Next time you plan on heading out try to visualise step by step how you want the dive to go before you even get in the water. When your Freediving, if you find yourself getting tense, try saying a little mantra or sing a song in your head, and watch how it helps you to relax again. Of course different things will work for different people, but some type of visualisation will certainly help before and during your dives.

Freediving Equipment

You don’t need to have the best freediving gear to be able to enjoy your underwater playground. Beginner freedivers will most likely have scuba fins or short fins and that will work fine as a beginner diver. However there are a few items that will certainly help to make your dives a lot more comfortable from the start. A low volume mask would be a great first purchase. Scuba masks are much bigger and are more difficult to equalise when you are freediving. With a low volume mask, it will be much easier to equalise as you go deeper and they are also much more flexible and comfortable. As you fall in love with the sport, you will begin to invest in other freediving gear such as a two piece wetsuit, long blade fins, a rubber weight belt and a dive computer. For now, just use what you have to begin your freediving journey.

Learn from everyone you can

Watch other divers and ask questions. Join a local Freediving Club or dive school and soak up everything you can from certified Instructors as well as other certified freedivers. As you freedive more, you will find that freedivers use different techniques to reach their goals. Start with the basics in a course, master these, and then build on your own knowledge and find what works best for you.

(Disclaimer: Do not fall for the trap and become an “internet” freediver. There is a lot of wrong information out there that could be potentially harmful to you, so please make sure that you get your information from credible sources and certified agencies.)

How To Choose A Dive Mask That Fits Your Face

We’ve all been there before. You have the day off work, the sun is shining, the wind is gone, the sea’s are flat and the visibility is going off! You head down to your favourite local dive site like a young child running to unwrap their presents on Christmas morning. After you’ve prepped your gear and headed out into the water you put your head underwater only to find that your annoying mask won’t seal correctly and feels like it’s actually letting the whole ocean in.

Whether you’re just learning to dive or you’ve been at it for years, improper mask sealing is a major frustration amongst divers, spearos and snorkelers alike. However it can be easily fixed by selecting the correct mask for your face. So to get a good fit for your new mask here’s some tips that should make a real difference and get rid of the problems of a leaking dive mask.

When choosing a new dive mask, three sets of criteria are critically important: fit, fit and fit. As no two faces are alike, proper mask fitting needs to be given the time it deserves to ensure a successful outcome.

The first consideration when buying a mask is how well its skirt seals against your face. Despite claims to the contrary, no one mask fits all faces. While the vast majority of mask skirts range from 10 to 12 cms (4.5 to 5 inches) in width between temples, their shapes differ considerably. So the only way to find the right mask for your face is to go into your local dive store and actually try them on for yourself. These three steps will help you to successfully complete this process.

Step 1:  Try as many different masks on as possible. Don’t be sucked in by colours, price or wow factors. Remember that the best mask in the world is the one that fits your face correctly, not everyone else. Once you have a selection of masks to choose from adjust the mask strap so that it’s as loose as possible and out of the way. Some dive shops may even let you remove the mask strap all together. The main thing is you do not want the strap to be involved in the fitting process. Many divers forget that when you are in the water it’s actually the water pressure, not the strap pressure, that should seal the mask to your face. In fact divers who over tighten their mask strap can actually cause a mask to leak even though it may have a correct fit! Not too mention that a mask strap done up too tight will only result in a terrible headache later on!

Step 2: Ensure that there is no hair under the mask skirt when you place the mask up to your face. A major cause of a leaking mask is hair being trapped between the diver’s face and the mask seal. So you should always move any hair away from the sealing area. Next, put the mask on your face and move it this way and that until it feels centered, comfortable and all edges of the skirt are in direct contact with your face. It’s also important to relax your face muscles when completing this step. Incidentally you’d be surprised just how many people naturally start making peculiar faces when doing this step – so remember to relax your face. For the ladies, it’s also a good idea to not wear any makeup the day you decide to try on new masks as it can also lead to inaccuracies and improper fit.

Step 3: With the mask against your face gently suck through your nose and let go of the mask with both off your hands. If it has made a good seal it will stick to your face for a couple of seconds. Remember, don’t suck too hard as it will just distort the skirt and give it a false seal. A properly fitting mask will seal with a gentle inhalation effort.

Step 4: Now adjust the strap so that the mask is just barely held in place against gravity, not pulled tight, and try Step 3 again. Sucking should pull the mask toward your face. Hold your breath. The mask should stay pulled in for several seconds—the longer it stays, the better the seal.

Once you’ve found your perfect mask that fits your face and seals correctly, don’t forget to give it a proper prep when you get it home so that it’s ready to go and won’t fog up when you need it on your next dive. Unfortunately all new dive masks fog very readily when they’re new and it’s due to the residual silicone left on them from the manufacturing process. In fact some frameless design masks are absolutely notorious for this problem and its caused because of the residue also leaching out of the skirt and strap material causing the fogging to persist.

However it’s really easy to fix and there is a solution. Over the years many, many methods have been developed to combat this problem including the ol’ toothpaste option. We have tried them all and truly believe that by far the best and easiest way to clean off residual silicone is to use McNett Sea Buff. Sea Buff is a specially formulated dive mask pre-cleaner that carefully removes all residue left on new dive mask lenses by the manufacturing process and prepares the surface for the first application of anti fog. Sea Buff can also be used to remove other residue accumulated on masks while diving or during storage.

Finally, now that you’ve found your perfect fitting mask, pre-cleaned it to remove the silicone residue, you’ll want to ensure that it won’t fog up on you when you’re in the water doing what you love. McNett Sea Gold is your best option by far. It’s a powerful formula that lasts much longer than other anti fog treatments and is 1000 times better than just spit. Sea Gold is the best anti-fog treatment out there and is even effective through multiple dives. Simply put a little of this unique highly concentrated formula onto your mask lenses, rub around with your finger tip, wash it off and you good to go and enjoy your diving completely fog free and most importantly leak free thanks to your new, correct fitting, dive mask. 🙂

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