Challenge Yourself With Free Diving!
If you love the water and love to scuba dive, you may want to give yourself a challenge and try free diving, or apnea diving. The term apnea refers to a cessation of breathing, and apnea or free diving is when a person dives without scuba gear or equipment. This is a very tough sport to master and requires a lot of hard work, but if you can manage it, you can dive just about anywhere and enjoy the water without heavy equipment or the cost of renting your scuba gear.
To train for free diving or apnea diving, you first need to train not just your lungs but your muscles to work without constant air flow. This is of course done on land in controlled conditions. Your muscles are accustomed to being fed constant oxygen and this oxygen enables them to work and to function and to build healthy cells. Without this flow of oxygen they start to get sore and stiff, a sign that the cells are being damaged and deprived of that oxygen they need.
Training your lungs and your muscles to stay strong without constant oxygen is done slowly and gradually. Make a point of performing these exercises every day and of challenging yourself so that you become stronger. First note your breathing as you take slow and long, deep breaths. Exhale as slowly as you inhale so you have more control over your lungs. Then begin a series of breathing in for three short but deep inhales without exhaling in between so you can keep forcing your lungs to expand and take in more oxygen. As you do this, hold your breath as long as possible before slowly exhaling. Practice this repeatedly.
Many find that what is called an apnea walk is helpful for getting started. To perform this exercise, you breathe up and in, gathering as much oxygen in your lungs as possible, and then walk as far as possible until you need to take another breath. This too trains the muscles to be without oxygen and to respond to demands on it. The longer you can walk without breathing, the stronger your lungs become and the more accustomed you become to the strain on your muscles.
You can then try some free diving when you’re comfortable with holding your breath under water, but this should first be done under controlled circumstances with another experienced diver. A swimming pool is ideal for starting out. Remember when you start to feel the need for air that you still need to reach the surface of the water, and rising too fast can give you ‘the bends’, a painful and dangerous condition common to new divers. Take your practice slow when you first start out so you can gradually increase your depth and time underwater and note how far you can safely dive, and have a fun and successful free dive!