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Go on and take the leap! Experience freediving in Cape Town

Freediving, or apnoea diving, refers to diving underwater while holding your breath. Pictures: Supplied

Freediving, or apnoea diving, refers to diving underwater while holding your breath. Pictures: Supplied

Published May 20, 2022


Freediving, or apnoea diving, refers to diving underwater while holding your breath.

Freedivers learn to control their breathing, gaining the physical and mental insight, experience and skills to dive as deeply, far and long as they are safely able to.

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“It is while freediving that we can experience gravity in all its forms; neutral, negative or positive buoyancy. This makes it the closest that most of us will get to experience what it might feel like to float in space,’’ said Daniela Daines, co-founder and director of Cape Town Freediving.

This year marks 10 years since the company was founded. Cape Town Freediving was the first dedicated freediver centre of its kind in South Africa.

‘’We are still the only freediver-dedicated centre in Cape Town, which makes us uniquely qualified in this underwater adventure sport. Wanting freedivers to explore the ocean and encounter marine animals the way we did was really key to us,’’ Daines said.

The company developed eco-conscious Adventure Freediver course modules as part of the Pure Apnoea internationally accredited education system.

If you can breathe and swim you can learn to freedive.

Freediving is often compared to scuba diving, and while both take place under the water’s surface, freediving has more in common with yoga, meditation and martial arts from a physical, mental and spiritual perspective.

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“Freediving is an incredible sport/recreational activity, a way of life – because it teaches us and changes us with every breath. Unlike any other activity, freediving gently forces us to be present. There is nowhere to hide when you are holding your breath,’’ said Daines.

In addition, freediving helps one gain physical and mental awareness, strength and resilience. It is a personal process of learning and unlearning, letting go of limiting beliefs and trusting an unknown inner strength.

"Freediving is immensely transformative and empowering if we let go and let be. Freediving is our connection back to the ocean, and because we cannot take our phones and laptops into the underwater with us, it is probably the only place we are entirely human, in our most natural state,’’ Daines said.

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In addition to teaching freediving, they offer snorkel experiences, surf apnoea courses, surf survival, breath-hold training and freedive travel, as well as breathing workshops and athlete training.

“Snorkelling offers an incredible window into the underwater world and we absolutely love sharing the secrets of the sea with our snorkel students and guests. Expect to gain a whole new insight into marine fauna and flora and have your breath taken away!”

How people can experience this amazing adventure

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1. Learn to freedive and join the freedive tribe and immerse yourself into an entirely new world with an incredible group of like-minded people.

2. Snorkel with Cape Town Freediving and experiences the incredible kelp forest so easily accessible right from shore.

3. Join one of the freedive trips and explore oceans and lakes beyond our immediate border.

Adventure Freediving – reconnect with nature within and around you, one breath at a time. The African sea forest is the greatest place on Earth. Learn to breathe in, dive and let the adventure of a lifetime begin.

Freediving courses

There is a range of courses, from beginner freediver to freedive instructor and even master instructor trainer. This means being able to gain the skills and experience diving from 5m to 65m deep during their courses – all in one breath.

Those who are not sure if freediving is for them can join in on the snorkel experience and gain a glimpse into the incredible sea forest.

Sport freediving

The focus is on learning and honing the four main freedive disciplines: static apnoea, dynamic apnoea, constant weight and free immersion. These are competitive disciplines performed in a pool and on a dive line.

Sport courses are usually a little more challenging and particularly suited to anyone with a competitive nature. The level 1 to level 3 courses are for anyone keen to explore how far, deep and long their breath will take them, working through limiting factors and personal barriers in the process. It is hugely rewarding and incredibly transformative.

Adventure freediving

The focus is on dive time and depth in an open ocean setting, away from dive lines when awareness of the marine environment, buddy diving, safety and dive duration become more important.

According to Daines, adventure courses are a little bit more relaxed and instead of focusing on perfecting the techniques to achieve record depth and distance, the focus is on increasing your dive time to allow for longer marine interactions, honing your awareness, safety and buddy diving skills in open ocean (or our incredible kelp forest).

What this course does best is create a growing community of like-minded adventurous people, inspired to explore the incredible diversity of marine fauna and flora in Cape Town.

Benefits of freediving

The demands of modern-day living create unhealthy levels of stress for most people. Freediving offers a meaningful way to get outside, de-stress, and connect with nature and like-minded people.

It opens the door to adventure – exploring and learning more about yourself and the underwater world in the process.

Benefits include:

– improved breathing patterns and oxygen efficiency

– reduced stress and anxiety

– increased relaxation and feeling of calm

– increased body awareness, fitness and flexibility

– improved mood, focus and self-belief

– improved stress-resilience and energy

– improved outlook on life, feeling connected to like-minded people and purpose.