by David Miner
Free diving, like many sports, requires a certain amount of mental and physical fitness. Free diving requires athletic fitness so that you can power yourself through the water efficiently. Moving through a liquid environment requires strength and good cardiovascular fitness. Free diving also requires good mental fitness. Descending below the surface, holding your breath, and diving deep requires a balanced and controlled mental fitness. Fifty feet underwater, holding your breath is no place to become mentally unstable.
There are a number of rules and conditions you need to follow if you want to be an accomplished free diver and if you want to stay out of trouble and be safe. Free diving involves accepting certain risks. Free diving takes place in an environment that is much different than you may be used to. Therefore, free diving involves both environmental and individual risks, all of which must be understood. Knowing your mental and physical conditioning, where your comfort levels are, and your abilities is extremely important before tackling a free diving course or swimming offshore to give it a try.
As with any intense sporting activity, there are things you should avoid if you want to be a free diver. Stay fit and do not get overweight, don’t smoke, don’t drink excessively, and keep yourself mentally fit. By following these things, you’ll be physically safer while diving, you’ll be able to excel in the sport, and you’ll lessen the risks associated with the sport both for yourself and for your buddy.
Free diving can trigger nervous tension and anxiety, especially if you’re training or participating in competitions or practicing for deeper personal records. This tension and anxiety must be controlled and understood. This is a natural response for the body, but can be controlled and reduced by following some good habits. Before a day of free diving, make sure you get a good night of sleep and do not consume alcohol. Eat appropriately, but make sure you allow adequate time for digestion so as to avoid excessive stress on your body systems. Avoid stress as much as possible. Practice relaxation techniques and slow controlled breathing. Having your body in top shape is key to avoiding accidents or problems.
Being physically prepared, especially for being in the water, mentally prepared, and knowing the proper relaxation and breathing techniques can greatly enhance the enjoyment and experience of free diving. It is also important to maintain periodic medical checkups and have a healthy and well-balanced diet.
How do I become fit enough for free diving?
As discussed above, free diving requires physical and mental fitness. Training for free diving is as important as it is training for a marathon. And if you’ve ever run a marathon, you know how in shape you have to be both mentally and physically.
Moving through the water requires strength. Water can restrict movement and it causes drag as you try to move through it. Strength training increases your strength and endurance. Strength training can be accomplished through weight training. Focus on building muscle strength, not muscle mass. Proper weight training with a personal trainer can greatly improve your ability to effective move through the water and increase your endurance.
Excellent cardiovascular fitness is essential for free diving. Not only does it improve your ability to move through the water, it increases your body’s ability to oxygenate itself effectively thus increasing endurance. There are many sports that are great at improving your cardiovascular fitness. Running, cycling, swimming, cross-country skiing all improve and build your cardio fitness levels. Gyms also have many machines, such as treadmills, stair climbers, elliptical trainers, aerobics classes, etc. that are all great ways to build cardiovascular fitness. If you are new to any of these sports, seek professional counseling before getting started. Knowing the proper techniques is essential for safety and if you want to be effective.
Having a respiratory system that is efficient and strong is extremely important for a free diver. It’s important to avoid smoking if want to participate in free diving. It’s also important if you have a cold, congestion, sinus infection, or if you have asthma to seek a medical professional before going free diving. All of these can impair your body’s ability to oxygenate itself, reduce your strength, and impair your breathing, which can lead to accidents or problems.
Pulmonary training comes through conducting proper breathing techniques, which are taught in free diving courses. Proper breathing can greatly improve your airways and lungs for the sport of free diving. Consult a free diver trainer or take a free diving course to learn the necessary breathing techniques to safely and effectively free dive.
Psychological and mental fitness training
As discussed, having good psychological and mental fitness is essential for safe and effective free diving. You have to be able to control emotion, stress, and anxiety before, during, and after a free dive. Holding your breath and descending to great depths places a certain amount of psychological stress on your body. Being able to recognize and control those emotions is key for conducting safe free diving.
In the sport of free diving, you can’t be self-conscious or self-critical. Learning new things, pushing further, and recognizing the loss of control can lead to this behavior. In addition, you can’t have a big head either. Knowing and recognizing your limits and not thinking that you’re far superior than everyone else is important for self-preservation. A cocky attitude leads to absent-mindedness, lack of concentration, and pushing beyond ones ability, which can lead to serious accidents.
Therefore, it is extremely important that you’re capable of recognizing your emotional state, anxiety levels, fear, lack of concentration, etc. so that you don’t loose control and end up in a serious situation. Good mental preparation and practice is one of the most important things to do if you want to a free diver.
Free diving requires excellent physical and mental capabilities, just like many other sports. It is important to understand, learn, be aware, and practice the things outlined in this article if you want to free dive safely, enjoyably, and effectively.