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Thread: Chickening Out on Freedive Training

  1. #1

    Chickening Out on Freedive Training

    Hi Mers!

    So my boyfriend and I said over the winter that when the weather warmed up we would take a freediving class together. Quick backstory - About a year ago I joined a local fishing forum because it has areas of the forum for freediving. Through visiting the forum I noted a member who was always answering freediving questions and letting people know he offers a class. I went to their website and I was impressed. When I checked the freediving teacher's bio on Freediving Instructors National I was also impressed:

    Joe D'Agostino has been freedive spearfishing since 1996, the same year he began his career in public safety. His surf lifesaving professsion and desire to be in the water have taken him around the world. He is currently the Beach Safety Division Chief for the Destin Fire Department on the panhanddle of Florida, as well as the lead instructor at Benthic Ocean Sports. In 2015 he helped guide his lifeguard team to a USLA National Championship. As of 2017, he has completed freedive training with over 500 students including current spearfishing record holders and special forces team members.
    So my excitement was growing until recently when I started 'chickening out'. I was watching freediving videos and saw real footage of a guy blacking out in the water and his buddy had to swim down and drag him to the surface where he had to then revive him. It really scared me. Then in another video they said it was one of the most dangerous sports. I hate admitting it but now I am kinda scared.

    Originally I wanted to learn freediving to AVOID danger. You see, I made it a goal to learn how to properly equalize and I also learned how to calm down before diving. Once I learned these two things, I was swimming deeper than I have ever been. On the last day of a weekend trip to a spring, I was swimming a lot and when I got back to dry land my friends were looking at me and I asked what they were looking at. They said my lips were a little blue. I did some research about getting blue lips when freediving and so far I couldn't find a definitive answer that it means I was pushing myself too far or not. It could have just been from being in the cold water for so long and not from oxygen deprivation. Anyways, when that happened I thought, "You know, it is probably time for me to get some proper training." Also, it was enticing to know that the final swim for the freediving certification just happens to be done at the exact same spring.

    So here I am - on the fence about taking the class because of being a bit afraid and also a bit worried that I won't do so well and make a fool of myself - Especially if I say I am a mermaid then proceed to not do so well compared to others in the class. If I don't sign up soon though all of the classes could fill up.

    Also - Is there a certain workout routine I could do to prepare myself for freediving training so that I have a lower chance of embarrassing myself?

    Thanks!
    www.BambooPeacock.com
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  2. #2
    Senior Member Pod of The South Slim's Avatar
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    Don't ever let your fear control you. You do know your limits and I trust you you will not put yourself in danger. You also don't have to mention you are a mermaid either as you can use that as a surprise to them. I would go for it. Even if you don't complete the course, you'll have more knowledge you can use than what you had before you started so you win either way. Plus I'm sure they'll understand if you get to a point you are not comfortable. Beside if you back out, would you be kicking yourself with a "what if" for awhile?
    When you make the impossible become possible, that when the magic happens!
    ~Slim the Florida Merman~
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  3. #3
    Thanks Slim! I just added up the cost of the equipment we need for the course. It did jack up the price but I figure it will still be worth it. When my boyfriend showed genuine interest in taking the course I was suprised / excited to have a buddy I trust.

    Also it is about time I go do something different / exciting. I have had a lot of monotony lately.
    www.BambooPeacock.com
    Aviculturist - Mermaid - Gardener


  4. #4
    Senior Member Pod of The South saborigakusei's Avatar
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    Do it! Do it do it do it!

    I actually took a freediving course with Florida Freedivers..... aaaand failed to get my certification because I was too scared to go any deeper than 30 feet! It was really embarrassing, but even through just the classroom portion I learned a lot about safety and breathing techniques. They start you off in a pool too, which is a lot easier and less scary than the open ocean.

    Even though I didn't finish I definitely don't regret going. I definitely intend to try again when I'm ready.
    Not sure how helpful this will be to you, Mermaid Alea, but at least you know you're not alone. ^^

  5. #5
    Senior Member Pod of The South Slim's Avatar
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    You're welcome. I didn't realize much equipment would be involved. A freediving course is something I will do someday but I'm still setting my goal to earn enough to take a scuba diving course this summer. You are very fortunately you have a buddy joining you. Especially one that you can trust. Definitely go for it. I can't wait to see your progress. Beside, I know I may learn a couple tips from you on here as your taking the course.
    When you make the impossible become possible, that when the magic happens!
    ~Slim the Florida Merman~
    https://www.instagram.com/critte2004/

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by saborigakusei View Post
    Do it! Do it do it do it!

    I actually took a freediving course with Florida Freedivers..... aaaand failed to get my certification because I was too scared to go any deeper than 30 feet! It was really embarrassing, but even through just the classroom portion I learned a lot about safety and breathing techniques. They start you off in a pool too, which is a lot easier and less scary than the open ocean.

    Even though I didn't finish I definitely don't regret going. I definitely intend to try again when I'm ready.
    Not sure how helpful this will be to you, Mermaid Alea, but at least you know you're not alone. ^^
    Oh my gosh Saborigakusei! So first of all I am sorry that you didn't get to finish, but honestly that makes me feel a lot better. In some of the freediving videos they explain how you learn to ignore your stomach contracting and I just can't imagine how you learn to ignore that feeling - because evidently that doesn't mean you have to go up for air right away - you still have time. I am hoping they take us to the spring and not the ocean. I like the idea of going to the spring where I have been before so it will feel familiar and thus I will feel more comfortable there and there won't be a chance of a current, etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by Slim View Post
    You're welcome. I didn't realize much equipment would be involved. A freediving course is something I will do someday but I'm still setting my goal to earn enough to take a scuba diving course this summer. You are very fortunately you have a buddy joining you. Especially one that you can trust. Definitely go for it. I can't wait to see your progress. Beside, I know I may learn a couple tips from you on here as your taking the course.
    Yeah unfortunately I guess not everything is available for rent. You can rent out the wetsuit for $15 a day and the class is Saturday - Sunday so a total of $30 to rent a suit.

    Here is the whole list:

    Equipment required for the course: Mask, snorkel, wetsuit, fins, weightbelt, weights and a timing device. Most of the gear you may already own for scuba diving or snorkeling may be sufficient for the course. Below is a more detailed recommendation on gear.

    Mask - A low volume mask is preferable to a standard higher volume and profile scuba mask.

    Snorkel - Generally the simplest soft silicone J snorkel is best for what we do.

    Wetsuit – A two piece open cell freediving wetsuit is arguably one of, if not the most important pieces of equipment for a freediver. Any wetsuit you own will be sufficient as long as it has some neoprene for buoyancy. 3mm and 5mm open cell wetsuits are available to rent for the course at $15/day.

    Fins – Any fin will work but a long blade freediving fin in a full foot pocket is best.

    Weightbelt – Neoprene or nylon belts will work for the course but are discouraged. A rubber belt with a Marseille or latch style buckle is the right tool for this job.

    Weights – Smaller weight increment (1-2lb) weights are best and allow for more refined buoyancy adjustments.

    Timing Device – Any waterproof timing device will work for this course. Freediving computers are encouraged but not required until Level 2
    I am not sure what to do about the fins. I want to bring my monofin and alternate between using it and bifins but I also want to get the most out of training so I am not sure if I should go for buying long blade fins that freedivers use or not...My boyfriend will definitely have to buy fins.
    www.BambooPeacock.com
    Aviculturist - Mermaid - Gardener


  7. #7
    Senior Member Pod of The South Slim's Avatar
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    Thank you for the list of equipment. The dive mask I will have to get specialty anyways because I would need prescription. The wetsuit can be found for between $15 to $30 new if you look on the marketplace on Facebook for towns that isn't near the cost. That where I found mine and that also how I found my friend one when she went to bring me to the spring. To get the full experience, I will suggest the long blade fins to get the best experience. This is definitely helpful and I'm putting this thread in my favorites. It'll allow me to find the equipment and stuff for cheap until I can afford the full course someday. Thank you Alea
    When you make the impossible become possible, that when the magic happens!
    ~Slim the Florida Merman~
    https://www.instagram.com/critte2004/

  8. #8
    Senior Member Pod of The South saborigakusei's Avatar
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    I didn't really get to use my monofin when I went because the techniques were specific to bi-fins. I didn't have long blade freediving fins though, just a pair of mares snorkeling fins I found second hand. They worked just fine!

    That same company has a monofin training course too! I intend to take it someday. (I assume it's the same company because my materials list was exactly the same, haha)
    They also have spearfishing, which would be soooo cool to do in a tail...

  9. #9
    If done correctly, freediving isn't any more dangerous than any other activity. I'm glad you're getting training, and it's normal to be nervous, but don't chicken out! You'll be just fine. Any and all breathing exercises will be helpful, as diving has a lot to do with controlled breath (both free and SCUBA). Remember, it's a class. No one expects you to be perfect. If you want to get to it more gradually, and with air, try SCUBA classes first. There's tons available, from certifications for recreational to rescue and tech dives, as well as classes to see if you're even a bit interested, and most dive classes do have a free diving section, just to teach you how to safely handle being at depth without air in case of an accident

  10. #10
    Most of the injuries and deaths in freediving happen during or because of competitive diving. People trying to break world records, pushing themselves to the limit. But if you are trained and just doing it for fun then the risks are much lower.


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  11. #11
    Senior Member Euro Pod MermanOliver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LeeniusUnicorn View Post
    Most of the injuries and deaths in freediving happen during or because of competitive diving. People trying to break world records, pushing themselves to the limit. But if you are trained and just doing it for fun then the risks are much lower.
    Exactly. The most impotant things you learn in a course are safety procedures and to know where your limits are and to recognize the signs when you're pushing it. As long as you stay within your limits, it is actually not that risky.

    It's a little like driving a car: You can either drive in competitions on a racetrack, always pushing your limits and risking a crash, or drive just for pleasure and everyday use on normal roads. Taking a racing course definitely helps even on normal roads, so you know when something starts getting out of hands and what to do in such a situation, but it doesn't make everyday driving riskier, on the contrary (at least, as long as you don't start racing in the ordinary traffic... ).
    Last edited by MermanOliver; 05-06-2017 at 04:23 PM. Reason: Spelling correction

  12. #12
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    I don't have time to read everyone's responses but I took it for the same reason, to avoid safety issues! I can't even dive very deep because of my health issues, but I did all the breath holding training and I do it just on the side of the pool in the shallow end! A teacher is with you the whole time, and they monitor you and tap you every interval (for me it's 30 seconds, you could do 15 or something) and you have to give the OK signal and if there's any issue they bring you up.

    I was doing dynamic breath holds one day in the pool, in the shallow end, and I got THE WORST foot cramp in my life. Now, I float even when I want to sink. And so I stopped in the middle of the pool which made me drift deeper so that I was over my head. I wasn't worried at first but the cramp went up my entire leg from the foot and became unbearable and then it happened in my other leg. It hurt so bad I started curling into weird distorted positions literally out of a reflex I couldn't seem to control, and it was disorienting enough I started going under and panicking a bit. and this has never happened to me in my entire life, and I've literally never had anything close to a near drowning. But because my instructor was right next to me the whole time he was able to grab me and keep me safe and hold me steady.

    Its so good to learn this for mermaiding, and it made me change how I run my business as well so that in addition to my merwrangler when I do certain gigs I have a spotter IN the water with me. I think you can learn a lot, and if you are upfront with them with your reasons why they will work for you within your boundaries!

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