Exploring the Physiology of Adventure Freediving | Mitigating Risks

24 March 2023

Cape town freediving

Apnea Addicts Freediving School

Adventure Freediving

Adventure freediving is an exhilarating activity that allows divers to explore the depths of the ocean with minimal equipment. However, this sport is not without its risks. In this article, we will explore the inherent risks of adventure freediving and the effects of dehydration, exertion, short rest periods, and cold water on divers. We will focus on the risks of cramps, lactic acid build-up, electrolyte imbalance, and decompression illness, even in shallow water. By understanding these risks and how to mitigate them, we hope to promote safe and responsible freediving practices.

 

Adventure freediving is a sport that requires discipline, training, and a deep respect for the ocean. It involves diving to great depths with minimal equipment and relying solely on the diver’s own abilities to hold their breath and withstand the water pressure. While the thrill of exploring the depths can be enticing, it’s important to understand the inherent risks associated with this activity.

KeatZA
KeatZA
Brilliant instructors. The Apnea Addicts team look after you through the entire process and ensure that you are comfortable in the water and understand the fundamentals of the sport.
Reece Truter
Reece Truter
One of the best experiences I have had with a dive shop. I was blown away by how beautiful the African Sea Forest was and had many amazing dives from shore entry and off a boat all during my freediving course and improving my skills, reaching new depths and learning how to do it all safely.
Amber McLeod
Amber McLeod
Charl and Brit are amazing instructors :) Doing my freediving instructor course with them. Super patient people and they have very adaptable teaching styles that will suit anyone. Very fun course!
Leroux Cloete
Leroux Cloete
Best in the business, took my free diving to the next level and will recommend it to anyone looking to dive safer and improve their diving.
YB Naidoo
YB Naidoo
Gareth did such an amazing job with Mischka, he reads people extremely accurately and helps them accordingly. I seriously recommend Gareth and his team if you value patience and understanding. Thanks for the breathtaking experience guys, well done!
Boy de Jonge
Boy de Jonge
Did my 4 day Open Water Course, both Gareth and Indi are very nice, highly qualified and know where to go for the best Cape Town dive spots. Highly recommend!
Jonathan Müller
Jonathan Müller
Great communication. Great instructor. My son loved it.

Paradise42498870172
Paradise42498870172
2023-11-09
Amazing diving and skill improving. I had such an amazing time in Cape Town while being shown around with Apnea Addicts Freediving. We visited many dive sites via shore and boat. All while improving my diving skills on freediving courses.
GoPlaces67263033124
GoPlaces67263033124
2023-11-07
Amazing Charl and Brit are amazing instructors :) Doing my freediving instructor course with them and they have very adaptable teaching styles that will suit anyone. Very fun course!
Passport38210741530
Passport38210741530
2023-11-07
Spear fishing trip Beautiful waters and friendly cow sharks + friendly charles. Will recommend this to anyone. Gona come back again for sure.
Leroux C
Leroux C
2023-11-07
If you are a free diver this is a must!!! Best in the business, took my free diving to the next level and will recommend it to anyone looking to dive safer and improve their diving.
Hayley C
Hayley C
2021-05-13
Amazing shore dives with great people! I was recommended this dive shop by a local and it was the best choice I could have made! It’s a small company, so you get an intimate, personalized experience. Joe was a fantastic coordinator and extremely knowledgeable about the sites and marine life. Philippe was my dive buddy and helped me feel really comfortable and took great care of me on our dives. We saw incredible kelp forests, beautiful coral, nudibranchs of many kinds, swam through rock formations, and a friendly seal even came by and gave us a quick show. I’m so glad I chose to dive in SA, and I’m even happier I picked Cape Town Dive Centre. Thank you Joe and Philippe!!
Tarryn B
Tarryn B
2021-05-07
PADI Open Water & Advanced Open Water courses - an unforgettable experience When I finally decided that it was time to learn to scuba dive (something I’d wanted to do for years), I signed up for the Open Water Course with the Cape Town Dive Centre because of a friend's recommendation. From the minute the Open Water Course started, I loved everything about it! My instructor, Joe, was fun but also incredibly efficient and an excellent teacher. The course was quite difficult and complex so I wouldn't have wanted to do it with just anyone. However, because of the way Joe taught and helped us under the water, I felt totally safe and calm. By the end of the course I was totally hooked on scuba diving! So much so, in fact, that a couple of months later I returned to the Cape Town Dive Centre to do my Advanced Open Water Course. For anyone who intends on continuing to scuba dive after completing the Open Water Course, I would strongly recommend doing the Advanced Open Water Course too. This course really expanded my knowledge and improved my capabilities, ultimately making me a much more competent and confident diver – with much improved buoyancy and air consumption as an added bonus! So, if the above isn't already clear, let me say this: I would highly recommend going to the Cape Town Dive Centre to start and/or continue your diving journey! All of the staff are friendly and super well qualified, and will go out of their way to accommodate you and any concerns you may have. You are bound to have a phenomenal experience – in the water and out of it!
Claude Visagie
Claude Visagie
2021-04-10
First scuba dive What an amazing experience. Friendly instructors that are extremely knowledgeable and helpful. Would recommend this to anyone visiting Cape Town and to all the locals!!
Andrew Scott
Andrew Scott
2021-03-09
PADI open water diver course Just completed a PADI open water diving course with Cape Town Dive Centre. Was an amazing experience and loved every minute of it! Staff very professional and drilled us on every important aspect of the course. Great value for money and can really recommend it to anyone wanting to get into SCUBA
BoardingPass760957
BoardingPass760957
2021-02-08
You haven't lived if you haven't tried scuba diving! Our diving instructor Joe was already waiting for us with our gear when we arrived, which was great. He was very patient and helpful and made 200% sure we had all the basic skills mastered. I couldn't complete my dive, but he continued with my son, who is now totally hooked on scuba diving. I'm giving the experience 4 out of 5 as it was too short, a 4-hour experience was advertised and it was under 2-hours from arriving to leaving (trying to get into the wet suits and the instructions was about an hour). I can wholeheartedly recommend this and trust me, you are in SAVE hands with these people, they know what they are doing and know how to handle emergencies. Thank you, Joe!
bhbruwer
bhbruwer
2020-11-07
Great Experience! Great experience with friendly staff that makes you feel at ease throughout the dive. Will definitely recommend CTDC! Thanks Gareth!

FREEDIVING

Freediving is a form of underwater diving that relies on the diver’s ability to hold their breath, rather than using a breathing apparatus such as scuba gear. Freedivers may use fins and other diving equipment to help them swim deeper and faster, but they do not carry air tanks or use regulators to breathe while underwater.

Dehydration and Freediving

Dehydration is one of the most significant risks of adventure freediving, especially in the Cape Atlantic waters where long swims from shore and cold-water temperatures are common. Dehydration can lead to cramps, lactic acid build-up, electrolyte imbalances, and even decompression illness. These risks can be exacerbated by immersion diuresis, which is the increased production of urine due to immersion in water. Immersion diuresis can lead to a loss of fluids and electrolytes, further increasing the risk of dehydration and its associated complications.

How to Prevent it

To prevent dehydration and its associated risks, it’s important to stay hydrated before and during dives. Divers should drink plenty of fluids and avoid alcohol and caffeine, which can exacerbate dehydration. Rest periods between dives should be sufficient to allow for recovery and rehydration. Additionally, proper nutrition and electrolyte replacement can help prevent cramps and electrolyte imbalances.

 

Even in shallow water, the risks of decompression illness are real. Divers should take care to avoid rapid ascents and should adhere to recommended dive times and depths. Proper training and equipment can help mitigate the risks of decompression illness.

What does this all mean?!

In conclusion, adventure freediving is an exciting and rewarding activity, but it’s important to understand the inherent risks and take steps to mitigate them. Dehydration, immersion diuresis, and the associated risks of cramps, lactic acid build-up, electrolyte imbalances, and decompression illness can all be mitigated through proper hydration, nutrition, rest, and adherence to safe diving practices. By following these guidelines and respecting the ocean, divers can safely enjoy the thrill of adventure freediving.

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References

DeMaere, M., Smart, D., & Mitchell, S. J. (2019). Freediving injury and fatality: a long-term retrospective analysis. Diving and Hyperbaric Medicine, 49(2), 70-76.

Castellani, J. W., Young, A. J., Ducharme, M. B., & Giesbrecht, G. G. (2010). Thermoregulation during cold exposure: effects of prior exercise. Aviation, space, and environmental medicine, 81(9), 849-855.

Lee, J. K. W., Moon, R. E., & Yoon, Y. S. (2013). The effects of dehydration on the risk of decompression sickness in rats. Aviation, space, and environmental medicine, 84(9), 943-947.

Lindholm, P., & Lundgren, C. (2009). The physiology and pathophysiology of human breath-hold diving. Journal of applied physiology, 106(1), 284-292.

Schipke, J. D., Gams, E., Kiesenebner, M., & Koller, E. A. (2011). Free-diving-induced blood-gas partitioning in humans. Undersea & Hyperbaric Medicine, 38(6), 579-584.

Apnea

Apnea is the temporary suspension of breathing. In the context of freediving, apnea refers to the act of holding one’s breath while underwater. Freedivers often practice apnea in order to increase their ability to hold their breath and to dive to deeper depths.

Freediving vs. Scuba Diving

Freediving and scuba diving are two popular underwater activities that allow people to explore the depths of the ocean. While they may seem similar, there are several key differences between the two that are important to consider.

Is freediving safer than scuba diving?

While both activities have their own risks and benefits, it is difficult to say which one is safer overall. Freediving requires a level of fitness, skill, and self-discipline that not all people possess, but it is generally considered to be less equipment-intensive than scuba diving. On the other hand, scuba diving requires more specialized equipment and training, but it provides more breathing support and a greater level of safety in emergencies.

Which one is better for beginners?

For beginners, scuba diving is often the better choice as it provides more support and is more accessible for those who are less experienced in the water. On the other hand, if you are already a strong swimmer, comfortable with holding your breath, and looking for a more physically challenging and immersive experience, then freediving may be the right choice for you.

The main differences between freediving and scuba diving

The main difference between the two is that freediving relies on the breath-holding ability of the diver while scuba diving relies on a tank of air to supply the diver with oxygen. Freediving typically requires more physical fitness, as the diver must swim and hold their breath without the aid of breathing equipment. Scuba diving, on the other hand, offers more support and is less physically demanding. The types of environments that can be explored are also different between the two, with scuba diving often being better suited for exploring wrecks and other man-made structures, while freediving is often used to explore more natural environments such as coral reefs and kelp forests.

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Freediving for Beginners

Can non-swimmers participate in freediving?

Freediving is a sport that requires physical ability and mental focus, but it is not necessary to be an excellent swimmer to take part in it. With proper training and a qualified instructor, anyone who can swim a few meters can participate in freediving. Apnea Addicts Freediving offers courses and training tailored to meet the needs of beginner freedivers, including those who cannot swim.

How far can a beginner freediver dive?

The depth that a beginner freediver can dive depends on several factors, including their physical condition, lung capacity, and mental resilience. Generally, beginner freedivers can dive to depths ranging from 5 to 10 meters. With proper training and experience, a freediver’s abilities can improve, and they can reach greater depths.

Essential gear for beginner freedivers

The essential gear for beginner freedivers includes a wetsuit, fins, a mask, a snorkel, and weights. A wetsuit is necessary to keep the body warm in the water, fins help to increase speed and maneuverability, a mask provides clear vision underwater, and a snorkel allows the diver to breathe comfortably at the surface. Weights are used to regulate buoyancy and make it easier for the freediver to submerge. Apnea Addicts Freediving provides all the necessary gear for its students, ensuring that they have a safe and comfortable experience.

FREEDIVING

Freediving is a form of underwater diving that relies on the diver’s ability to hold their breath, rather than using a breathing apparatus such as scuba gear. Freedivers may use fins and other diving equipment to help them swim deeper and faster, but they do not carry air tanks or use regulators to breathe while underwater.

Freediving Techniques and Safety

Breathing Techniques for Freediving

The proper breathing technique is essential for freediving. Freedivers should breathe slowly and deeply, inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth. It is also recommended to hold your breath for a few seconds before diving, as this can help to slow down the heart rate and increase oxygen levels in the body.

Holding Your Breath While Freediving

Holding your breath for an extended period of time can be challenging, but with proper training and practice, it becomes easier. Freedivers can try to calm their mind and slow down their breathing to conserve oxygen and increase their bottom time. A good way to train is to perform static apnea, which involves holding your breath while floating on the surface of the water.

Common Risks Associated with Freediving and How to Avoid Them

Although freediving is considered a safe sport, it is important to be aware of the common risks associated with it. These risks include shallow water blackout, ear and sinus squeeze, and hypoxia. To avoid these risks, it is important to take a freediving course, dive with a partner, and never dive beyond your limits. Additionally, always have a safety plan in place and make sure to follow the buddy system.

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Advanced Freediving Techniques

Increasing Your Bottom Time While Freediving

For those looking to improve their freediving abilities, increasing bottom time is one of the most important goals. Some techniques for doing so include proper training and conditioning, optimizing body positioning, and utilizing proper diving techniques. One of the keys to increasing bottom time is to gradually build up the length and intensity of dives, allowing the body to adjust and become stronger over time. Additionally, advanced freedivers may choose to incorporate specialized gear, such as dive computers or customized fins, to improve their performance.

Freediving in Deeper Waters

For more experienced freedivers, diving in deeper waters can be a thrilling and rewarding experience. However, it also carries additional risks, such as the risk of decompression sickness and the need for specialized equipment and training. When freediving in deeper waters, it’s crucial to have a thorough understanding of dive tables, dive planning, and emergency protocols. Additionally, it’s recommended to dive with a partner, as well as to always carry a reliable surface marker and signaling device.

How to Avoid Blackouts While Freediving

One of the most dangerous risks associated with freediving is the risk of blackout. A blackout occurs when a diver loses consciousness underwater due to a lack of oxygen. To minimize the risk of blackout, it’s important to properly warm up and stretch before a dive, to maintain good posture and hydration, and to avoid over-exertion. Additionally, divers should always dive within their limits and never dive alone. In the event of a blackout, a dive partner should be trained in proper rescue techniques and should have a reliable signaling device readily available.

Apnea

Apnea is the temporary suspension of breathing. In the context of freediving, apnea refers to the act of holding one’s breath while underwater. Freedivers often practice apnea in order to increase their ability to hold their breath and to dive to deeper depths.

Advanced Freediving Techniques

Increasing Your Bottom Time While Freediving

For those looking to improve their freediving abilities, increasing bottom time is one of the most important goals. Some techniques for doing so include proper training and conditioning, optimizing body positioning, and utilizing proper diving techniques. One of the keys to increasing bottom time is to gradually build up the length and intensity of dives, allowing the body to adjust and become stronger over time. Additionally, advanced freedivers may choose to incorporate specialized gear, such as dive computers or customized fins, to improve their performance.

Freediving in Deeper Waters

For more experienced freedivers, diving in deeper waters can be a thrilling and rewarding experience. However, it also carries additional risks, such as the risk of decompression sickness and the need for specialized equipment and training. When freediving in deeper waters, it’s crucial to have a thorough understanding of dive tables, dive planning, and emergency protocols. Additionally, it’s recommended to dive with a partner, as well as to always carry a reliable surface marker and signaling device.

How to Avoid Blackouts While Freediving

One of the most dangerous risks associated with freediving is the risk of blackout. A blackout occurs when a diver loses consciousness underwater due to a lack of oxygen. To minimize the risk of blackout, it’s important to properly warm up and stretch before a dive, to maintain good posture and hydration, and to avoid over-exertion. Additionally, divers should always dive within their limits and never dive alone. In the event of a blackout, a dive partner should be trained in proper rescue techniques and should have a reliable signaling device readily available.

Want to know More?

Join the fun!

Apnea Addicts Freediving Cape Town

Recapping the Main Points Covered

We explored the world of freediving in Cape Town, highlighting the best spots to go freediving, the health benefits of this water sport, the differences between freediving and scuba diving, and the techniques and safety considerations involved. We also debunked some common myths and misconceptions about freediving, and explored advanced techniques for experienced freedivers.

Final Thoughts on the Benefits and Excitement of Freediving in Cape Town

Freediving in Cape Town is a unique and exhilarating experience that provides a chance to get up close and personal with the incredible marine life in the area. Not only is it a fun and challenging sport, but it also offers numerous health benefits, including improved lung health, stress management, and a sense of calm. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced diver, Cape Town offers opportunities for all levels of freedivers.

Encouragement to Try Freediving for Yourself with Apnea Addicts Freediving

If you are looking for a new and exciting adventure, we highly encourage you to give freediving a try. And if you’re in Cape Town, be sure to check out Apnea Addicts Freediving. With their experienced instructors and personalized courses, they make it easy and safe to get started with this exciting sport. So why wait? Get out there and experience the thrill of freediving in Cape Town!

KeatZA
KeatZA
Brilliant instructors. The Apnea Addicts team look after you through the entire process and ensure that you are comfortable in the water and understand the fundamentals of the sport.
Reece Truter
Reece Truter
One of the best experiences I have had with a dive shop. I was blown away by how beautiful the African Sea Forest was and had many amazing dives from shore entry and off a boat all during my freediving course and improving my skills, reaching new depths and learning how to do it all safely.
Amber McLeod
Amber McLeod
Charl and Brit are amazing instructors :) Doing my freediving instructor course with them. Super patient people and they have very adaptable teaching styles that will suit anyone. Very fun course!
Leroux Cloete
Leroux Cloete
Best in the business, took my free diving to the next level and will recommend it to anyone looking to dive safer and improve their diving.
YB Naidoo
YB Naidoo
Gareth did such an amazing job with Mischka, he reads people extremely accurately and helps them accordingly. I seriously recommend Gareth and his team if you value patience and understanding. Thanks for the breathtaking experience guys, well done!
Boy de Jonge
Boy de Jonge
Did my 4 day Open Water Course, both Gareth and Indi are very nice, highly qualified and know where to go for the best Cape Town dive spots. Highly recommend!
Jonathan Müller
Jonathan Müller
Great communication. Great instructor. My son loved it.

Paradise42498870172
Paradise42498870172
2023-11-09
Amazing diving and skill improving. I had such an amazing time in Cape Town while being shown around with Apnea Addicts Freediving. We visited many dive sites via shore and boat. All while improving my diving skills on freediving courses.
GoPlaces67263033124
GoPlaces67263033124
2023-11-07
Amazing Charl and Brit are amazing instructors :) Doing my freediving instructor course with them and they have very adaptable teaching styles that will suit anyone. Very fun course!
Passport38210741530
Passport38210741530
2023-11-07
Spear fishing trip Beautiful waters and friendly cow sharks + friendly charles. Will recommend this to anyone. Gona come back again for sure.
Leroux C
Leroux C
2023-11-07
If you are a free diver this is a must!!! Best in the business, took my free diving to the next level and will recommend it to anyone looking to dive safer and improve their diving.
Hayley C
Hayley C
2021-05-13
Amazing shore dives with great people! I was recommended this dive shop by a local and it was the best choice I could have made! It’s a small company, so you get an intimate, personalized experience. Joe was a fantastic coordinator and extremely knowledgeable about the sites and marine life. Philippe was my dive buddy and helped me feel really comfortable and took great care of me on our dives. We saw incredible kelp forests, beautiful coral, nudibranchs of many kinds, swam through rock formations, and a friendly seal even came by and gave us a quick show. I’m so glad I chose to dive in SA, and I’m even happier I picked Cape Town Dive Centre. Thank you Joe and Philippe!!
Tarryn B
Tarryn B
2021-05-07
PADI Open Water & Advanced Open Water courses - an unforgettable experience When I finally decided that it was time to learn to scuba dive (something I’d wanted to do for years), I signed up for the Open Water Course with the Cape Town Dive Centre because of a friend's recommendation. From the minute the Open Water Course started, I loved everything about it! My instructor, Joe, was fun but also incredibly efficient and an excellent teacher. The course was quite difficult and complex so I wouldn't have wanted to do it with just anyone. However, because of the way Joe taught and helped us under the water, I felt totally safe and calm. By the end of the course I was totally hooked on scuba diving! So much so, in fact, that a couple of months later I returned to the Cape Town Dive Centre to do my Advanced Open Water Course. For anyone who intends on continuing to scuba dive after completing the Open Water Course, I would strongly recommend doing the Advanced Open Water Course too. This course really expanded my knowledge and improved my capabilities, ultimately making me a much more competent and confident diver – with much improved buoyancy and air consumption as an added bonus! So, if the above isn't already clear, let me say this: I would highly recommend going to the Cape Town Dive Centre to start and/or continue your diving journey! All of the staff are friendly and super well qualified, and will go out of their way to accommodate you and any concerns you may have. You are bound to have a phenomenal experience – in the water and out of it!
Claude Visagie
Claude Visagie
2021-04-10
First scuba dive What an amazing experience. Friendly instructors that are extremely knowledgeable and helpful. Would recommend this to anyone visiting Cape Town and to all the locals!!
Andrew Scott
Andrew Scott
2021-03-09
PADI open water diver course Just completed a PADI open water diving course with Cape Town Dive Centre. Was an amazing experience and loved every minute of it! Staff very professional and drilled us on every important aspect of the course. Great value for money and can really recommend it to anyone wanting to get into SCUBA
BoardingPass760957
BoardingPass760957
2021-02-08
You haven't lived if you haven't tried scuba diving! Our diving instructor Joe was already waiting for us with our gear when we arrived, which was great. He was very patient and helpful and made 200% sure we had all the basic skills mastered. I couldn't complete my dive, but he continued with my son, who is now totally hooked on scuba diving. I'm giving the experience 4 out of 5 as it was too short, a 4-hour experience was advertised and it was under 2-hours from arriving to leaving (trying to get into the wet suits and the instructions was about an hour). I can wholeheartedly recommend this and trust me, you are in SAVE hands with these people, they know what they are doing and know how to handle emergencies. Thank you, Joe!
bhbruwer
bhbruwer
2020-11-07
Great Experience! Great experience with friendly staff that makes you feel at ease throughout the dive. Will definitely recommend CTDC! Thanks Gareth!

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