freediving course classroom session

After originally starting my vision board last year, it is continually changing and evolving and this weekend I got the chance to make one of my wishes become reality. I have had a picture of a free diver gliding through the depths for a few months and after continually looking at it as I wake up I searched around and found a freediving course coinciding with some dates I had in England. Fantastic, but England?! All that springs to mind for me is flashbacks to my scuba rescue course, one sunny November in Horsea Island, water temperatures of 12C (about 50 F) with a dry suit with a too big neck seal, no under suit and a very cold student! My instructors solution to solving the large neck seal on my suit was to electrical tape it to my neck which seemed somewhat sensible at the time but now, looking back seems ludicrous! Anyway, I digress. I was so eager to start on my freediving that I decided to sign up with Emma Farrel and her freediving group who regularly run courses, and as a former professional freediver and instructor for over 9 years I felt she sounded like a good guide for me. Flying into England on a Thursday morning, I literally had 24 hours before I was heading to a train and on my way to Somerset. Exciting!!!! Emma prepares you well, by sending you your manual and dive log before hand, plus some great material on breathing techniques and other points. I was a little bit unlucky in that travelling so far on a plane before hand I didn’t get quite as much practice as I would’ve liked. Having some basic experience skin diving in Costa Rica , teaching divemaster candidates and such has helped me but this course was on a different level. It really takes the true essence of freediving back to basics, focusing on your technique, from breathing, your breath-up, and recovery breathing, basic rules, techniques of duck dives , which I can happily say I REALLY needed some work on to start with! and even finning techniques. As a scuba diver we know we have a good finning technique but has anyone ever really sat down , and broken down and analyzed your finning? I can correct scuba divers easily but there is so much more to this. Very importantly we focused time of the buddying procedure as with freediving, similar to scuba , you should NEVER dive alone. Buddying and rescue was practiced both on the surface and from depth. Great practice.
So, after a brief classroom session in the morning we headed to the “heated” pool (yes really : ) !!!) and started with basic breathing, and finning. Being back in the students role occasionally is a good thing,  feeling a bit nervous, ready to learn. After some rescue and dive practice we headed over to Vobster Quay for our open water session. Now came the best surprise, the freediving wetsuits are designed differently to scuba suits, in that they are open cell, and SO much more flexible and yes, SO much warmer. In 17 C water in a 6.5mm suit I was comfortable. I won’t go as far as to say “warm” but comfy definitely. We spent around 2 hours in the water, practicing skills, and I managed around 10m which was an awesome achievement especially as I felt so very comfortable in the water.
Day 2 was some more academics and then back to the inland quarry. Depth rescue and more duck dive practice, I must keep my chin in and get more propulsion for my duck dive!!! To finish off we had the chance to head through a swim through, which was great, but for me the best moment, was emerging the other side of the tunnel to see a group of scuba divers blowing bubbles and swimming past. For me, a surreal moment but completely fantastic. I will always love scuba diving and will continue my love of it but it is so awesome to be able to enjoy the wonders of the underwater world in a different way. Tankless. Emma and David our other instructor were both fantastic and now I cannot wait to practice my new found skills in the beautiful waters of Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica. I’ll be passing my new found tips onto any Go Pro students that want to learn and in the near future we are planning and offering freediving courses as well. After some plotting and planning we are looking to host a freediving week next Easter time so if anyone has an interest, whether you are new and want to try, or would like to improve on your current skills please let us know. The more the merrier!!!
For me, it was a fantastic weekend and I am already planning another training session if I can before I head back to the land of “Pura Vida”. Thank you Emma!!!