- A freediving course is a training program that teaches freediving basics, including safety protocols and techniques for diving deeper underwater. Freediving courses teach students how to use specialised breathing techniques to stay underwater longer and dive deeper than they could with regular snorkelling or swimming skills alone.
- Several organisations offer certified courses in freediving, such as PADI, SSI, AIDA and Molchanovs. Depending on your level of experience, there are different levels of certification available, from beginner through to advanced/professional diver levels.
- All courses will cover safety protocols such as equalising pressure while descending, proper weighting, buddy system procedures, rescue scenarios and surface support operations. Students will also learn about the physiology of breath-hold diving to better understand their bodies’ capabilities. You will also learn nutrition and proper mental preparation.
- The equipment needed for a successful freedive includes fins, a wetsuit or drysuit (depending on the water temperature), weights, mask and snorkel setup, and a buoyancy control device (BCD).
Freediving has become a popular activity for those looking to explore the ocean’s depths and experience the beauty of its aquatic life. However, without proper training and knowledge, freediving can be dangerous. Taking a freediving course is essential before attempting this thrilling activity.
Freediving courses aren’t just for beginners, either. Even experienced divers can learn new skills, techniques and safety tips. A good course will give you an understanding of the physiology involved in freediving and teach you how to manage your body’s response to pressure underwater. You’ll also learn about proper breathing techniques, buddy systems, dive tables, rescue protocols and more.
You will need the right equipment on your training journey, and here at Agulhas, we have you covered. All our gear is designed by freedivers for freedivers, with champion freediver Hanli Prinsloo on board alongside World Champion swimmer Peter Marshall and acclaimed designer Alexander Taylor. Read on to find out more!
What Do We Mean by Freediving Courses?
Freediving courses come in all shapes and sizes, each catering to a specific skill level. There are freediving for beginners courses that teach the fundamentals of freediving, such as breath-hold techniques and emergency procedures.
Advanced courses can provide intensive training in more specialised areas such as deeper dives, underwater photography or spearfishing. These courses usually involve practical drills and exercises to help develop a higher skill level, so it’s important to pick one that caters to your needs and experience level.
PADI vs SSI vs AIDA vs Molchanovs
There are several certifying agencies for freediving courses, including PADI, SSI, AIDA and Molchanovs. All these organisations provide comprehensive training and certifications that can help further your understanding of freediving and safety standards.
PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) is one of the world’s leading dive training organisations. They offer different freediving courses geared towards beginners, intermediate and advanced divers. PADI’s Basic Freediver and Freediver courses teach basic freediving skills, like proper buoyancy control and rescue techniques. The Advanced Freediver course takes this knowledge and builds on it, teaching you more advanced skills and safety protocols for deep dives, while Master Freediver should complete your training. We’ll dive deeper into some of these courses later in this article.
SSI (Scuba Schools International) is another popular certifying agency offering freediving courses. SSI’s Freediving program starts with the Basic Freediving certification, which covers basic safety techniques, dive planning and equipment use. You can progress to the Freediving Level II course, where you’ll learn more advanced skills, such as static apnea and recovery breathing. Finally, SSI also offers a Level III course designed for those looking to take their freediving to even greater depths.
AIDA (Association Internationale pour le Développement de l’Apnée/International Association for the Development of Apnea) is a worldwide rule-and record-keeping body. They are based in France and focus on education alongside setting standards for record attempts. They are known to be safe and reliable and have many freediving courses available.
Molchanovs offers freediving courses and has achieved recognition due to its highly experienced instructors. Their courses are designed for all skill levels, from beginner to expert. They offer everything from basic workshops teaching breathing techniques and efficient finning to advanced courses focused on deep dives and competitive freediving. Legendary freediver Natalia Molchanova founded the company.
What Other Freediving Schools Are There?
Although we’ve mentioned four of the major freediving schools, there are others that offer unique freediving courses. For instance, Apnea Total is known for its fun and approachable attitude to freediving. The organisation provides top-notch freediving education to divers of all experience levels at an affordable price.
In addition, many independent freediving schools offer courses worldwide. These courses range from basic introductory courses for beginners to more specialised and intense training for experienced divers.
However, it’s important to ensure that a certified and experienced instructor provides any course you take. This will ensure your safety and provide you with the most up-to-date information on freediving techniques, emergency procedures and more. No matter what bargain you seem to be getting, never opt for a course provided by an uncertified instructor or freediving school.
Preparing for Freediving Classes: Your Equipment
Before you sign up for a freediving course, it’s important to ensure you’re prepared. Make sure you have the necessary gear, such as fins and a mask. As mentioned, also research the instructor or school before signing up, and, if possible, try an introductory class first to give you a good idea of what to expect.
While you won’t need an abundance of equipment to begin freediving, you will need some basic gear.
Here’s a list of items that Molchanovs recommends:
Mask: A mask is an essential piece of freediving equipment, allowing divers to see underwater clearly. Masks can feature one or two lenses and are usually made from tempered glass or plastic. They cover the eyes and nose area of the face and are designed to provide a tight seal against the skin. The mask should fit comfortably while still providing a watertight seal.
Snorkel: A snorkel is a device used in freediving to help conserve energy while underwater. It consists of a tube with a mouthpiece at one end that allows divers to breathe while their head is underwater. Snorkels are usually made from flexible materials such as plastic or silicone, allowing them to be bent for easy storage and comfort.
Bi-fins: Bi-fins are two-bladed fins used for freediving. They’re designed to give divers more power compared to monofins and better control when making turns underwater. Bi-fins offer efficient propulsion and effective finning techniques, such as flutter or dolphin kicks.
Monofin: Monofins provide increased speed and efficiency compared to bi-fins due to their larger surface area covering both feet simultaneously. Monofin swimming is popular among freedivers because it helps conserve energy during long dives by allowing them to swim faster with fewer kicks.
Wetsuit: Freedivers wear wetsuits when diving in cold water temperatures to stay warm and comfortable for longer periods. Wetsuits come in different thicknesses depending on the water’s temperature.
Diving Socks & Gloves: Diving socks and gloves are worn by freedivers primarily for warmth, but they also protect their hands and feet from cuts, abrasions and jellyfish stings while diving around reefs or rocks on shallow dives below 15m (50ft). They generally have extra padding around key contact points, such as fingers, palms and toes, that are prone to scraping on rough surfaces when gripping rocks or pushing off from them during descents or ascents.
Weight Belt & Weights: Weight belts are used when freediving to offset positive buoyancy caused by breath-holds that expand air-filled spaces like lungs, sinuses and intestines during deep dives. Weight belts also allow divers to dive deeper without excessive force, thus making diving easier with less energy spent on finning strokes during longer dives. This ultimately leads to improved dive times. The amount of weight needed depends on individual body composition. Trial dives with small weights can help determine what works best for individual setups before using heavier weights for deeper dives over 20m/65ft.
Safety Lanyard: Safety lanyards ensure divers’ safety by attaching them to an anchor line that runs along the bottom of a descent line, preventing any sudden movements away from it. This prevents any entanglement hazards between descending lines, anchor lines, surface lines, etc. This all ensures a safe path back up onto safety boats after each dive.
Here at Agulhas, we have you covered for all your freediving equipment needs. All our products are made to be eco-friendly and sustainable, all without hurting your pocket! As those designing our gear are freedivers, we know exactly what you need for any occasion, including freediving training.
Our equipment is designed to be modular, so you can swap any part at will. We know that your equipment could sustain damage, particularly during these early days of your freediving classes. After all, who hasn’t accidentally knocked their fins against an obstacle or forgotten to store something correctly? But we also know that it isn’t usually the whole equipment that needs replacing.
By creating modular freediving gear, we can save you money long-term and contribute to sustainability by ensuring there’s a lot less waste in the world, which we know sadly often ends up in the oceans.
So why not check out the rest of our website and freediving catalogue to get all the necessary gear for your freediving journey? Whether you’re just starting a freediving course or looking to reach a more advanced stage, we’ve something for you!
The Best Freediving Training Courses
As we’ve highlighted, freediving courses cater to all skill levels. As such, we’ve broken our list into several subsections so you can find the right course for you.
Freediving for Beginners
If you’re just starting with the sport, you’ll be looking at freediving for beginners courses. You must choose your first course wisely, as a bad experience may completely put you off the sport. Here are four of our handpicked freediving training courses:
Basic Freediver (PADI)
Take the plunge and launch your freediving journey with PADI’s Basic Freediver course! You’ll learn foundational concepts of freediving in a course that combines eLearning with a confined water session. In the water session, you’ll learn breath-hold techniques and proper buddy procedures to obtain static apnea of 90 seconds and dynamic apnea of 25 metres/80 feet.
Basic Freediving (SSI)
The SSI Basic Freediving course is the perfect place to start your freediving journey. Learn the essentials of what it takes to freedive safely and with confidence. With this entry-level course, you’ll learn how to freedive safely with a buddy in waters of up to five metres. Like the PADI course, eLearning combines with in-water sessions to give you a fully-rounded experience. Once complete, you will earn SSI Basic Freediving certification.
AIDA1 Introduction to Freediving (AIDA)
The AIDA1 Introduction to Freediving course offers a basic knowledge of freediving for those taking part. It will introduce skills such as body and mind relaxation, finning techniques, duck dives and equalisation. A further course, AIDA2 Freediver, will introduce topics such as the freediving breathing cycle, basic physiology of freediving, freediving techniques, safety in freediving, equipment in freediving and freediving disciplines.
Wave/Lap 1 – Beginner Freediving (Molchanovs)
With Molchanovs’ Beginner Freediving course, you will gain the basic knowledge of freediving and become a fully-autonomous diver capable of confidently exploring the underwater world. You’ll learn how to practise safely and proficiently, what happens to your body when you dive and how to manage freediving’s mental aspects. By completion, you should be able to dive between 12-20 metres using fins or rope pulls.
If you’ve already completed any freediving for beginners course, you’ll already be familiar with the basic concepts and will have become used to how freediving training works in the water and the need for academic study in freediving classes. It’s time to move on to advanced freediving.
Advanced Freediver (PADI)
The PADI Advanced Freediver course is designed to get you deeper and achieve new personal bests. You’ll develop your knowledge of freediving techniques and equipment as part of the eLearning aspect of the course. Meanwhile, confined water sessions will teach stretching and relaxation. You will seek to achieve 2 minutes and 30 seconds of static apnea and dynamic apnea of 50 metres/165 feet. Open water sessions let you practise deeper free immersion and constant weight freedives.
Freediving Level II (SSI)
The SSI Freediving Level 2 program will take you to the next level of mastery. Learn to dive deeper, hold your breath for longer and understand the importance of efficiency in freediving. Level 2 will teach you about fitness, body strengthening, and the freefall and Frenzel techniques.
AIDA3 Advanced Freediver (AIDA)
This course is designed to build upon skills from the previous level, introduce new techniques and provide a more comprehensive understanding of safety protocols. Learners will be exposed to freefalling, Frenzel equalising, diving training tables and the risks associated with pressure changes. Furthermore, students will have opportunities to master the four main disciplines in freediving: static apnea, dynamic apnea, free immersion and constant weight.
Wave 2 / Lap 2 – Advanced Freediving (Molchanovs)
With the Molchanovs Wave 2 Advanced Freediving course, you’ll have the opportunity to explore down to 30 metres beneath the surface, become more skilled with no-fin techniques and even learn about using a monofin. In the classroom, you’ll uncover the history behind freediving and understand Dalton’s law & Henry’s law, learning how physics affects you underwater. With Advanced Freediving, you’ll also learn the specifics of deep-diving and understand how your body adapts to changes in depth. Finally, you’ll enhance your breathing skills by mastering the Frenzel equalisation through specialised drills, tips and guidance.
Now that you’ve passed stage two, you’ll be moving on to learn freediving at the highest level with more challenging dives and deeper understanding. Learn about physiology and safety considerations for deep diving and master new techniques at the sport’s top level.
Master Freediver (PADI)
With the PADI Master Freediver course, you’ll develop your knowledge of nutrition, relaxation and advanced breathing techniques through the company’s eLearning freediving classes. You’ll also need to do independent research as part of your Master Freediver Assignment. In the water sessions, you’ll have a static apnea goal of 3 minutes 30 seconds and dynamic apnea of 70 metres/230 feet. Meanwhile, open water sessions allow you to practise mouth-fill equalisation and perform warm-ups and workup dives. The goal is a constant weight freedive of 32 metres/105 feet.
Once complete, other courses from PADI include becoming an instructor and skin diving. While the skin diving course doesn’t require any experience, you’ll need to have been a certified diver for six months to join the PADI Instructor Development Course and have logged at least 60 dives.
Freediving Level III (SSI)
SSI’s Freediving Level 3 certification program will build on the freediving training you’ve already done with SSI. According to their website, this training will “help you discover your true potential as a freediver.” The course will give you in-depth freediving classes in an online learning environment and advanced time in the water, helping you maximise your skills and learn new techniques as used by world champions in the sport.
Other courses available from SSI include subjects such as free immersion, monofin and no fins freediving. When you complete a set number of SSI Specialty Programs and Logged Dives, you automatically earn SSI Recognition Ratings – SSI Specialty Freediver, SSI Advanced Freediver and SSI Master Freediver.
AIDA4 Master Freediver (AIDA)
The AIDA Master Freediver course is designed to help you become an expert in the sport with a greater awareness of safety protocols and introduces FRC diving, mouth-fill equalisation and lung packing. Skills mastered at this level include static apnea, dynamic apnea, constant weight, free immersion and variable weight. Equally, this course introduces such things as full body warm-ups and stretching, nutrition, breathing exercises and more. Finally, these freediving classes will teach more about Dalton’s Law, Boyle’s Law and Henry’s law and give you vital information on decompression sickness, nitrogen narcosis and more.
For those wishing to progress further, courses that cover specialisations such as monofin use and competition freediving are available. Overall, the depth of AIDA’s courses shows why it is one of the premier freediving schools.
Lap 3/Wave 3 – Master Freediver (Molchanovs)
Finally, Molchanovs’ Master Freediver course will teach you to dive comfortably up to 40 metres while demonstrating proper technique in disciplines using the training pool. One of the key elements you’ll learn is advanced equalisation, combining the Frenzel manoeuvre with mouth-fill or reverse packing. There is also a strong theory element, and you will learn freediving techniques and approaches that take you to the top level. These include fresh mental approaches to your dives, and you will also learn freediving history, reflecting on how ancient freediving influenced what we do today.
For those going further, a Competition Freediving course is available alongside others.
Freediving is a fantastic sport, and many courses are available to suit all levels, from complete beginner to master freediver. Learn the basics with a learn freediving course, progress to become an advanced freediver or take it all the way and become a master freediver. With so many freediving courses available, you’ll be able to find one that suits your individual needs. So what are you waiting for? Come and experience the underwater world of freediving and remember to check out Agulhas for all your equipment needs at every stage!
Is there an age limit when participating in a freediving course?
Age restrictions vary between different instructors/schools. Generally speaking, most will require participants to be at least 16 years old before they can join a class. Others are restricted to those over 18. However, some schools offer classes tailored specifically towards children of ages 10-15, so it is best to consult with your instructor beforehand if considering enrolling yourself or your child into one of these courses.
Are there physical requirements needed before enrolling on a freediving course?
Before enrolment into any program, all prospective students must pass certain health screening criteria set out by each respective organisation before being accepted onto their programs. Although each has slightly different prerequisites, all applicants must pass written and practical assessments designed around assessing their overall fitness levels and respiratory performance capabilities.
How long does it typically take until I can complete my certification?
The length required until completion depends largely upon how much prior practice and experience the student has had before attending freediving school. Still, in general, most beginners starting from scratch tend to require around two or three days’ worth of training sessions devoted to mastering foundational skill sets before moving on to more complex drills. Additional theoretical exams will be added on top. But a basic freediving course should take around three days.