I’m hooked on freediving and here are 11 reasons why you should start too

Why you should start freediving
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It’s been on my list for a few years now: Learning to freedive. However, something kept getting in the way. This year, I finally managed to fulfil my wish, and I would have never imagined how much this water sport would captivate me. Find out more about why and why you should start freediving here.

Reasons to start freediving

Discovering the world as an apnoea diver is different from scuba diving or snorkelling. In addition to the conventional freediving disciplines on a buoy with a rope or in the pool, this sport offers so much more. Find out what makes freediving so special for me and why I’m absolutely in love with it:

#1 Breathing becomes a relative concept

During my first freediving course with Donna in Cabo San Lucas in Baja California, Mexico, I clung to her every word. “How is that supposed to work?” I repeatedly thought in disbelief. I was supposed to be able to hold my breath for over 2 minutes during the first course?

Now I smile about it because I know that with the right technique it’s not a problem. The instinct or desire to breathe can be suppressed and delayed. With a good instructor, you can do it even faster.

#2 Improving quickly

For years, I’ve been looking for a sport that fascinates me and that I enjoy sticking with. Freediving has finally achieved just that. Although I’ve only been certified since mid-2023, I usually train in the pool once a week and then regularly in the lake in the summer months. What keeps me going is the amazing fact of how quickly you can improve.

During my first apnea course, I struggled to crack the 20-metre mark. Shortly afterwards, I managed 31 metres in Lake Attersee. And after my trip to Italy to the Y-40 pool in Montegrotto Terme, I actually managed to get to 42.1 metres. And I also set a new time record for myself of 2:14 at Free Immersion. Obviously, that’s incredibly motivating.

Note: I am aware that I am blessed with my ears and have hardly any problems with equalising or infections. Others may not be able to achieve these results as quickly.

#3 The feeling of freedom

Another reason why there’s something so fascinating about freediving is this indescribable feeling of freedom. Not just when training in the pool, but also in the lake or the sea. This sense of weightlessness that sets in after a few metres and then you sink gently and then faster and faster is simply beyond description. But also that you can train a lot on your own when freediving – when you’re not trying to set new best times.

#4 Also useful in everyday life

The breathing techniques you learn during the courses are not only useful when freediving. The skills have also helped me to master situations with more calm in everyday life. Even though I’m still not a fan of yoga and I only do the exercises to improve my skills in freediving, I realise that it does help. Will I be attending yoga retreats now? I don’t think so.

#5 Not just physical training, but above all mental training

When someone categorises recreational or scuba diving as a sport, I often have to chuckle. Because for me, the most athletic part is usually “getting into the suit” or “getting to the dive site with the heavy equipment”, but not the diving itself.

More than anything else, freediving is a mental sport. I don’t want to negate the fact that it is also physical because it certainly is. Above all, freediving requires a strong will and stamina.

#6 New world – no bubbles

One of the main reasons why I really wanted to start freediving this year was because I had a few trips coming up and wanted to prepare myself for them. Some adventures in the ocean cannot be experienced as a scuba diver because the animals move too fast and the air bubbles would drive them away. Even though it would, of course, be brilliant to spend an hour under the surface observing the huge schools of mobula rays in Baja California, it is almost as easy with long fins and without a tank on your back.

Many marine creatures are very sensitive to the noisy air bubbles that you exhale as a diver. For this reason, scuba divers rarely ever get to be close to whales in particular.

Some countries or regions do not allow scuba diving with whales or other large animals. It is either too costly, the animals are too fast or there are legal regulations. Freediving opens up entirely new places to visit and makes you aware of new natural spectacles that you can only experience with a snorkel and fins.

#7 Improving air consumption when scuba diving

My air consumption in scuba diving has continued to improve over the last few years. Since I have also been freediving regularly, I believe that it has continued to further improve. Thanks to various techniques, I am generally even calmer in the water and consume even less air.

#8 Less equipment

When I travel with my scuba gear (and obviously my underwater camera equipment), I now have to check in two bags and have two items as carry-on luggage to fit it all. This not only massively restricts my freedom of movement, but is also really annoying on land. No matter how much I love diving, this aspect is really exhausting.

Freediving eliminates a lot of that. Not only do I not need strobes, as most of the action takes place on the surface with plenty of daylight, but the overall equipment is also less. Fins, neoprene socks, mask, snorkel, dive computer and, depending on the water temperature and type of training, a wetsuit and lanyard. And that’s it. Every time I go to the lake to train in summer, I feel like I’ve forgotten something because my car boot isn’t packed to the brim.

#9 Photography

As an underwater photographer, it is also important to me that I expand my skills beyond diving and take great photos without strobes. Without a doubt, this point follows on from the previous one, because I want to be able to capture these moments with my camera. Freediving opens up a whole new world of possibilities for immersing yourself in this magical underwater world and capturing it. With the right techniques, you can stay down longer and have the chance to experience and photograph more moments.

#10 Year-round sport

Depending on where you are and what infrastructure is available locally, freediving is definitely a sport that can actually be practised all year round. While in winter, you are more likely to focus on dry sessions or pool disciplines, in summer the surrounding lakes and trips to the sea have you covered.

#11 It’s addictive

If you’ve made it this far and followed my freediving adventures on Instagram or Facebook, then you probably know that I’m absolutely addicted to it by now. It’s really hard to put into words, because before I did my first course, I didn’t think very positively about freediving. I simply had the wrong impression and no idea what freediving was really about. So here’s my invitation to you: The next time you have the opportunity to try freediving or take a course, do it. I guarantee you won’t regret it and you’ll soon be as hooked as I am.

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Viktoria Urbanek Travel Blog Chronic Wanderlust

Grüß dich, I'm Viki!

At Chronic Wanderlust, I write about my two great passions: travelling and diving – and have been doing so since 2013.

I usually spend a solid majority of the year travelling to experience extraordinary underwater adventures, taking road trips through countries I don’t know (yet) or exploring my home country of Austria.

As a certified divemaster, passionate underwater & travel photographer, road trip enthusiast and individual traveller, I collect unique moments all over the world.

I don’t believe that severe cases of wanderlust – aka chronic wanderlust – can be cured, only treated. On this blog, I want to show you how this can best be realised.

Curious to get to know me better?