Most people are familiar with scuba diving, where you wear a bunch of scuba gear and a wet suit so that you can explore underwater. There’s something closely related called freediving, which you may or may not have heard of. Also known as skin-diving, freediving is when the diver holds their breath until they resurface, as opposed to using equipment to stay underwater longer.
Does that sound intense? That’s because this sport asks the human body to perform an amazing feat: exploring underwater without the aid of additional air. Freediving isn’t anything new. Many coastal cultures have freediving traditions, from the Romans who dove to build underwater barriers to the Japanese and Korean Ama people who still freedive to search for pearls.
Exploring underwater without any heavy gear hampering you may sound appealing, but freediving does have its perilous side. In author Adam Skolnik’s book “One Breath: Freediving, Death, and the Quest To Shatter Human Limits,” he tells the tale of one youngster, Nicholas Mevoli, who died while freediving in the Bahamas. He also follows and documents a traveling freediving community. Though people actually dying in freediving competitions is rare (Nicholas’ death was the first in 35,000 competitions), it’s worth noting that this sport can be risky.
In spite of the risks, there’s no denying the attractive pull that this activity offers to explore exotic waters with nothing between you and the deep blue sea. Fortunately, many reputable diving schools do offer freediving lessons. They will teach you how to dive safely and get the most out of exploring on just one breath. You can even become certified, and have your training become the basis for future underwater exploration training.
Freediving is an excellent way to push your limits and explore the beauty of the underwater world. You could even describe the experience of it as life-changing.