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Michael Naef – Freediving

Diver Outline

History

Maybe the most ancient and certainly the most pure form to go under water. In Japan the ama use to dive for food, sponges and pearls for more than a thousand years.

During summer 1913 the Italian ship "La Regina Margherita" lost its anchor on the shores of Karpathos. The greeck sponge diver Chatzistathis salvaged the anchor from a depth of over 80 metres holding his breath and using stones as wheigts to attach a rope to it. There shall pass another 50 years until a human beeing will reach this depth again.

Freediving is a young sport. It is under constant developement since the fities and still on the track of consolidation when it comes to competition and organisation. Many have now tasted the underwaterworld "snorkeling" in their holidays. During the past years freediving has become popular through the film "Le grand Blue" and lurid documents on spectacular accidents in the media.

Is Freediving Dangerous?

Freediving is far less dangerous than suggested by the media. It's like in car accidents: The more spectacular, the bigger the letters and the longer the time in the news. While most people know that the risk of driving a car is never such devastating as the pictures make it seem, it isn't the case with freediving. How could it - nobody really knows about it. If one honours the basic principle of never diving alone and respects his own limits, then freediving isn't more dangerous than other sports.

Equipment

Basicaly you don't need anything at all, not even a swimming suit. Using a mask makes it a bit more pleasant and interresting. Freediver use a mask with a low volume for deepdiving. To move forward more efficiently we use fins. Cheap flippers from the sports store, long freediving bifins which require a bit more training or a special monofin. To protect himself from the cold water, specially in the cold swiss lakes (below 20 metres it doesn't only get dark but also really cold...), the freediver uses a neoprene wetsuit. Contrary to the scuba divers, freediver suits are unlined and smooth on both the inside and outside. This reduces waterresistance an improves isolation. Some lead weights compensates for the extra boyancy. For dynamic freediver carry a neck weight. It's a tube filled with lead grit to balance the diver neutral in about 1.5 metres depth. A noseclip is used to allow the freediver to dive handsfree without pinching his nose when he's not wearing a mask.

© 2019 Michael Naef
File last modified: Monday, 28-Feb-2011
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