Oct 2015

An Introduction to Freediving

By Etoile 

What is Freediving?

Freediving or Apnea, is diving under the surface on a single breath without the aid of any breathing equipment. To some, that may sound ridiculous. Why would anyone want to do that if scuba diving equipment exists? Freediving is all about pushing the limits of the human body; diving deeper, staying submerged longer, and most importantly developing a peaceful mindset whilst doing so.

How deep can freedivers go?

Although it may seem pretty superhuman to be able to dive down to 128 meters under the sea on a single breath (that’s the world record), everyone is able to free dive, the key is to know the tricks of how to do it. Because of our aquatic origins, through time the human body has evolved some incredible features that have allowed us to adapt to the liquid world.

How to Freedive

When you submerge your face in the water, you start to activate what is known as the ‘Mammalian Dive Reflex‘. The mammalian dive reflex is a natural physiological reaction that occurs when a human, mammal, or diving bird is submerged in water. There are two main changes in your body that happen when the mammalian dive reflex is activated:

1. Heart Rate Reduction – This sounds scary, but it’s not! It is actually extremely beneficial for freedivers. It is a natural adaptation of the human body to conserve oxygen, which in the end, allows free divers to stay submerged for a longer period of time and make deeper dives.

2. Vasoconstriction – This is the narrowing of blood vessels to reduce blood flow. Vasoconstriction is a way for the body to conserve blood and oxygen for the body’s vital organs such as the heart, brain and lungs, instead of using oxygen on less vital peripheral organs.

And guess what, every mammal has a Mammalian Dive Reflex – Even you!

By pairing the Mammalian dive reflex with a few simple breathe up techniques that will allow you to oxygenate your blood, even more, five meters or more under the sea on a single breath won’t seem like such a challenge anymore!

It’s up to you to tap into this phenomenal potential and experience one of the best feelings of relaxation as you make one with the ocean environment. Just let go of your previous preconceptions and trust your body, it knows what to do!

‘An Introduction to Freediving’ was written by Etoile.

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My name is Etoile Smulders and diving is my all consuming passion! I was born in Hong Kong and raised in mainland China and Thailand by a French mother and a Dutch father. My multicultural upbringing has provided me with a passion to explore, travel and ultimately understand and connect our world.

A self-professed ocean junkie, I learned to dive at age 10 and never stopped. I spent my entire childhood exploring the underwater world of South East Asia. Twelve years and around a thousand dives later, I am now a fully qualified PADI master scuba diver trainer, technical rebreather and full cave diver. I have been involved in various technical diving expeditions in South East Asia in efforts to explore new habitats and remote locations. Currently I dive professionally and for fun.

I have a passion for finding and telling ocean stories! I am an interdisciplinary journailst with a true lust for our underwater world. I use photography and videography as a conservation weapon to create awareness for the marine related issues I am passionate about. I am committed to linking science with storytelling to inspire change.

Diving Qualifications:

PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer
IANTD Normoxic Trimix Rebreather Diver
TDI Full Cave Diver
TDI Advanced Wreck Diver
TDI Trimix Gas Blender
SSI Level II Freediver

Dream Dive Locations:
Darwin + Wolf Island, Galapagos
Cocos Island, Costa Rica
Rangiroa, French Polynesia
Any new and unexplored cave

Check out Etoiles website here: Going Epic Places