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How to Safely Prepare for Freediving in Open Water: Essential Tips and Guidelines

Updated: Jun 8


Bookmark this guide for future reference! Don't be left behind by your dive buddies because you're unprepared. Please ensure that you are properly certified before heading to the water, including confined water spaces such as pools.


Freediver with a shipwreck in Tobermory.
Sweepstakes Shipwreck in Tobermory with Khalil

The open-water season is officially open here in Ontario! Preparing for the season is essential for new and seasoned divers. There are many things to consider, such as gear, and current physical & mental health. This post will cover some of the most important things to consider when preparing for the open-water season.  



Checklist

Don't skip a step in preparation as this could cause delays in enjoying Freediving out in your local waters.



 

Check Your Equipment.


The first thing you should do is check your freediving gear. This includes your mask, fins, snorkel, and wetsuit. Make sure everything is in good working order and that there are no holes or tears in any of the materials.


If you find any issues with your equipment, take it to a dive shop for repairs. If you’re new to diving, it’s a good idea to have someone experienced check your gear for you. They can ensure that everything is in working order and that there are no holes or tears in any of the materials.


If you need to replace anything, it's best to do so early in the season in case items or parts need to be specially ordered. If you feel you may need extra pieces of equipment, now is also a good time to restock.


If preparing for Openwater diving, please consider the following items for your kit.


  1. 2-piece 5mm, Open-cell Wetsuit made for Freediving (or thickness suitable for your environment)

  2. Low-volume mask. Highly recommend getting a spare in case it gets lost in open water or a strap breaks during your dive trip.

  3. Snorkel suitable for freediving

  4. Dive Watch

  5. Gloves, especially when working with a proper dive rope on a buoy or if you don't enjoy cold hands.

  6. Socks for fit, warmth and comfort.

  7. Fins: plastic or fibreglass blades are more suitable for rough shoreline entries.

  8. Dive belt and Weights.

  9. Lanyard.

  10. Proper Freediving Buoy with a dive flag (please ensure the appropriate flag colours as other countries may vary. Check in with a local dive club)

  11. Marked Static Dive Rope with a lanyard stopper, dive plate and bottom/dive weights.

  12. Dive Knife, especially in Open ocean water diving.

  13. Camera, to capture incredible moments

  14. Dive Bag



Review Freediving Safety Procedures.


Prevention is always ideal. This can also make freedivers a little rusty on rescue procedures. Take time to read up on safety procedures and emergency protocols for freediving in open water. Practice in a pool before heading out into open water or run through a safety practice at shallow depths at the beginning of your dive. Repeat at other dives when you're with new divers.


Before heading out into Open waters familiarize yourself with the area's specific risks and conditions. If you're venturing out into Ocean waters with an abundance of marine life, research the local animals that you may encounter.



Prepare Your Body.


Freediving is 50% physical and 50% mental. Maintaining stamina by choosing anaerobic methods improves your cardiovascular endurance as well as builds and maintains muscle and lose weight.


Allot time for self-reflection and meditation to improve mental stamina for this sport. If there is a disconnect between the mind and body, it will make it challenging to stay focused during your dives.


Practice relaxation techniques to calm your mind and body on the day of your dive with your buddies and be sure to include stretching.



Buddy Up.


If you are taking up Freediving, then you must respect our number one rule: Never Dive Alone. Always have buddies with you for safety and support.

Your dive pod should be no less than 3 people. 1 Performing Diver, 1 safety Diver, 1 Standby Diver/ Surface observer. Your 3rd person will be essential especially if you'll be somewhere with active boat traffic.

Discuss dive plans, signals, and emergency procedures with your buddies before entering the water. Practicing rescue procedures is a great way to warm up and can be done in shallow depths (like 5 meters) before venturing deeper.



Stay Hydrated and Energized


Hydration begins two days or the day before your dive. If you try to overcompensate the day of your dive will feel the urge to pee instantly and will need to go more frequently. This can be extremely distracting mentally.

Drink plenty of water the day before or even 2 days before your dive. On the day of your dive drink if you're feeling parched. Eat a balanced carb meal the day before and eat a light meal on the morning of your drive. I personally fast till I'm done diving for the day. Listen to your body and do what you feel is best. Avoid consuming alcohol, coffee or heavy meals that can affect your dive performance. Avoid coffee and black/green teas on the day of your dive as these are diuretics. After a dive enjoy eating a protein-rich meal and antioxidants like a handful of blueberries.


Preparing for the open-water freediving season requires prioritizing safety, and proper planning. It is important to check your equipment for any damages or issues and replace or repair them as necessary. Familiarize yourself with freediving safety procedures and emergency protocols, and practice them in a pool or shallow depths before heading out into open water. Prepare your body physically and mentally by maintaining stamina through anaerobic exercises and practicing relaxation techniques. Always dive with a buddy or a dive pod to ensure safety and support. Stay hydrated and energized by drinking plenty of water and eating balanced meals before and after your dives. By planning and preparation, you can have a successful and enjoyable open-water freediving experience.



Enjoy and Dive Safely!


 

In The Toronto Area?

Join our not-for-profit Freediving Club, Freedive Toronto. We host weekly pool training sessions that are self-guided. FreediveToronto.com


Join our hypercubeH2O mailing list (below) for updates on courses, and workshops. We also host online workshops as well. International subscribers are welcome!


 





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