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Freediving For Beginners – How To Start Your Freediving Journey

Are you thinking about making freediving your new hobby? Good choice! You might look at experienced freedivers who dive very deep underwater and feel nervous about starting. Is it dangerous? How is it possible to hold your breath for so long? In this freediving for beginners article, I am going to give you all of the information you need to start your freediving journey. Whether you are a confident swimmer, or you have spent your life paddling in the shallows, freediving is for everyone. So, take a deep breath, and let’s dive in.

How to start freediving?

The best step to start learning how to freedive is to become fairly comfortable in the water. Once you are, there are various agencies that offer freediving courses, and they all follow a similar teaching system.

Research which course feels best for you, and which is available in your area. Most teaching agencies offer the option of a full certification (usually two to three days long), or a “try-dive” option which gives you a taster of what freediving is about in just one day.

Freediving equipment for beginners – What You Will Need

When you sign up for a freediving course, you will most likely be given the equipment you need for the duration of the course. Here I list what basic equipment you are likely to use during your beginner course so if you think that you will be engaging with freediving, I recommend purchasing these items so you will have your own, good-fitting gear.


freediver wearing black low volume mask

A mask is used to cover the eyes and nose and allow you to see underwater and stop water from entering your nostrils.

Although they look very similar at first sight, there are differences between freediving and scuba masks, so it is essential that you know what to pay attention to when choosing a freediving mask. ‘Low volume’ masks are best for freediving.


A snorkel is a tube which carries air into your mouth while your face is in the water. It is a simple but essential piece of your equipment so it should be the right size and ergonomic. Unlike modern snorkel tubes, freediving snorkels are classic J-types with no valve or dry top.


plastic OMER freediving fins

You may have seen snorkeling fins before, which allow you to move through the water easier and faster when you kick. Freediving fins tend to be longer, for extra power.

It is best to start with plastic beginner freediving fins, and then as you become more advanced you might choose to switch to carbon or fiberglass fins that are more efficient.


freediver underwater in black pants and silver jacket

Even when diving in warmer waters you will probably need to wear a wetsuit to keep warm. There are various options for freediving wetsuits but freedivers tend to wear wetsuit pants, with a jacket that goes on separately. This type of wetsuit fits snuggly and allows you to be streamlined in the water.

Weight belt

freediving rubber weight belts with weights

To stay underwater in freediving, you have to wear a belt with some blocks of lead weight attached. You should have enough to help you descend under the water with ease, but not too much that you cannot float on the surface.

The best weight belt for freediving is the rubber one as it is comfortable and stays in place. It is also important to figure out how much weight you need so you are not wearing too much/too little weight.

Buoy and rope

Although a buoy and a rope are not must-have freediving equipment for beginners as your instructor will provide these items while your training, having them is important for your own safety even if you practice this sport occasionally only.

You will be diving from a freediving buoy (a float that you can hold onto on the surface) which will have a rope attached that goes vertically down underwater with weight on the end to keep it straight.

freediver next to yellow buoy

This rope is used so you know where you are in the water and to stop you from going too deep. You will also be attached to this rope using a lanyard which is usually attached to your wrist and stops you from straying from the rope.

Breathing exercises for beginners

A huge part of freediving is becoming as relaxed as possible in the minutes before the breath-hold, and the best way to do this is by controlling your breathing.

You will learn all about relaxation breathing in your first freediving course, but to give you a headstart, here are a couple of breathing techniques to help you become relaxed (both for freediving and in your day-to-day life):

  • Belly breathing: Many people breathe into their chest as standard practice, but it has been proven that focusing on bringing the breath into the belly helps you to achieve a higher level of relaxation.
  • Tidal breathing: Tidal breathing is how you breathe normally at rest. This means not hyperventilating (breathing hard and fast), but taking normal breaths in and out. Trying to maintain a 1:2 ratio (breathing out for twice as long as you breathe in) is a great way to become relaxed.

These easy techniques are the optimum way to breathe for freediving and for general relaxation. Breathwork has been proven to reduce anxiety and depression and to help calm a busy mind.

It also helps to lower the heart rate which conserves precious oxygen during freediving, which leads to longer and more comfortable breath-holds. Give it a try at home!

Freediving tips for beginners

If you want to be as prepared as possible for your freediving course or when practicing freediving with someone who is already experienced, we have a few tips to help you get ahead of the game:

Get your own gear

It is tricky to find a mask, snorkel and fins that fit perfectly, because everyone’s body is different. If you sign up for a course in a busy dive center you might not have many options to pick from, so it can be nice to have your own.

If you live close to a dive center or equipment shop, go and ask to try a couple of different ones on. You can also get advice on how to find the best-fitting ones. If there is no shop close to you, there is tons of information and reviews available on the internet (like on my site) so it is possible to order gear online too.

If you decide to buy your own equipment, choose brands that offer quality, comfortable gear. Some good options include Mares, DiveR, Beuchat, Cressi, Omer, Elios, and Cetma.

Make stretching a habit

Stretching or going to yoga classes can help make you flexible which is beneficial for freediving. The more flexible you are, the more comfortable you will move in the water.

Practice equalizing your ears

You have to equalize your ears when you dive underwater (‘pop’ your ears to release pressure). Without getting too technical, there are different equalization techniques, but you can practice just by popping your ears as many times as you can back-to-back. Do this in your free time to prepare for doing it underwater.

Improve your mental and physical fitness

One of the main advantages of freediving is that you will get into better shape. However, to become a better freediver, additional training is also essential. By doing a combination of water and dry training along with mental exercises, you can improve yourself both physically and mentally, which will help you improve faster in freediving.

Follow a healthy diet

Everyone knows that certain foods can make one feel energized, while others can cause tiredness or discomfort. Following the right diet is especially important when practicing extreme sports, such as freediving when your body’s performance is essential. Learning what you should eat when freediving and what food to avoid will help you perform your best.

Never, ever dive alone

Even if you feel confident that you will be fine, solo freediving is one of the biggest hazards in freediving. You might get injured or black out (from running out of oxygen underwater), and if you are alone when this happens you are likely to drown. Therefore, the first and most important safety rule of this sport is that you should never freedive alone.

Questions From Beginners

It is so important to learn to freedive with a trained professional who will keep you safe and teach you important safety practices. Courses are designed to keep you, and those around you safe.

Freediving can be enjoyed by everyone in different ways. Although it is not easy to become a 100m deep diver, it is easy to learn the basics and enjoy freediving on the reef. Most people learn the basics of breathing and good diving technique in just a few days.

Everyone is different so it is difficult to tell how deep a beginner will freedive, but generally, average people can reach a depth of 10-30 feet (3-9m) on their first freediving days. It’s important not to set expectations, because then if you don’t reach them, you will feel disappointed, even though you might have achieved a lot and had fun. Don’t focus on numbers, enjoy the process and keep practicing and the depth will come.

Most people can hold their breath for around 30-60 seconds without any training, with some basic breathing techniques and a few attempts, most people can manage a 90-second, or even two-minute breath-hold in the first few days. With regular practice, master freedivers can hold their breath for 3-5 minutes, some of them more than 10 minutes (this however applies to static apnea practice usually).

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