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    WHAT IS FREEDIVING? by Melissa Rodriguez

    Freediving - diving without scuba gear, sometimes to great depths.
    Before the invention of SCUBA (self contained underwater breathing apparatus), there was freediving, also referred to as skin diving and breathhold diving. Freediving isn’t just about diving without SCUBA equipment and plunging to unimaginable depths. You can also participate in other underwater activities such as spear fishing, underwater photography, and underwater hockey.

    Do you think you don’t have what it takes to be a freediver? If you can hold your breath to 15 feet, equalize your ears, and still have a few seconds left over for “underwater sightseeing,” then you are a freediver. Though professional freedivers plunge to deeper depths for longer amounts of time, you don’t have to.

    Most of the ocean’s marine life and corals live and grow within 30 feet of the surface. 45 seconds are all you need.
    Most people can master the sport in about two weeks without spending a lot of money on gear. The items you need are: a mask, a snorkel, fins, a weight belt, and a wetsuit. The fins and masks that you’ll need aren’t your average SCUBA type. The masks have small lenses placed closely to the eyes. The design offers a wide peripheral view. Also, less air in the mask means using less valuable air to counteract a mask squeeze. The fins that you will use are very long, which helps you to accomplish an agile propulsion. Because of the long fin design, it’s important to use short kicks instead of the long leg kicks you learned in SCUBA training.

    An important and easily learned skill is the surface dive. Once you’ve mastered it, you can concentrate on other skills such as breath control and efficient swimming. Here is how it’s done (usually from a sitting position):

    - Take a deep breath
    - Bend at the waist
    - Raise the leg opposite your leading arm
    - Clear your ears
    - Slip vertically below the surface
    - Kick forward to gain momentum

    At first, beginners usually end up shallowing out the dive because they lead with their chests instead of their fingertips. Remember to streamline your body.

    Learn to relax. It is essential to the sport and it will help you topside, too. Relaxation will provide a psychological base and calm state of mind for your freediving experience. The sport is about attitude, technique and correct weighting.

    Why not learn to freedive this year? The basics are simple to learn and will expose you to a completely new world of diving without cumbersome gear. It’s a great physical activity, economical, and fun!