Basic safety rules for freedivers

by: Sebastian Naslund

Staying on the surface and exploring the under water world through a mask is one of the most widely spread leisure activities. Before the boom and expansion of the scuba industry (diving with air bottles), every body taking to the sea was a snorkeller.

The sea and the marine life below the surface is still very accessible with only a mask, a snorkel and a pair of fins (to increase your propulsion). And even if the expected under water creatures prefer to hide when you paddle past, just being and floating in the water is a relaxing reward in itself.

To, for some time appreciate a feeling of weightlessness after a lifetime bound to the earth by gravity. Maybe it is the subconscious memory of the pleasurable time we spent nine months in our mothers wombs, or just that fact that viewing the under water world can be as exotic as a space trip to another world.
Most of us has already held our breaths, maybe on land, or in a pool, so in a sense we all are breath hold divers. The step from snorkeller to freedivers is a short one under the right guidance.

If you as a snorkeller decide to venture down and extend your depth and time, please be aware of the basic safety rules of freediving.

A few hints for the beginner.

Make sure your mask is snug and tight fitting. Spit in it when it is dry and wash it out before putting it on. This will reduce fogging. Do not take on and of your mask all the time.

Adjust the snorkel so that it feels good in your mouth.

If you dive down, try to dive as straight down as possible and remember to equalize your ears all the time on the way down. Professional snorkellers and freedivers never feel pain or any discomfort in their ears.

While swimming in water you will not feel that you are sweating. The pressure of immersion will also make you want to pee more. You can easily dehydrate and that is serious. Drink well before, during and after.

Annelie Pompe pushing of from the bottom of the Red Sea, Egypt

Remember that the cooling effect of water will hide any chafing of your fins. Half an hour with bad fitting fins and you may have blisters on your feet that last your whole vacation. Use ordinary socks as protection.

Same goes for sun burn. The water will cool your back and you will not feel that minute by minute you may acquire an unhealthy sun burn. Use a so called rash guard, or just a t-shirt. Sun block is good, but some of the brands contain ingredients that are very unhealthy for reefs and other microscopic marine life upon which all other life on this planet depends.

Avoid touching anything under water, it may be poisonous, try to protect itself by attacking or get hurt by your touch. Reefs die when you stand on them, and many sea creatures have a protective "film" or layer that protects them from germs, this layer gets damaged by your touch.

Protect our seas, do not be afraid of sharks, and don´t stand on the reef, and lots more you will have to find out by yourself - happy snorkeling.

And on a last point. If you decide to brag about the size and closeness of the under water creatures you encountered, remember that everything you see through the mask is in reality smaller and further away.