Freediving, when practised properly, is a very safe sport. As with any activity there are risks so always dive with the supervision of a QUALIFIED and competent buddy. Never hold your breath alone, even in water as shallow as your bath. Someone needs to be there who knows exactly what they are looking for and trained in freediving safety procedures. A casual observer or even a lifeguard who hasn’t been specifically trained in apnea would not be suitable.
All of our courses have a safety component and we have an active safety culture within the club which includes never freediving alone and always diving within your and your buddie’s limits. At the start of a pool session members discuss what they want to achieve and make sure that everyone has appropriate safety cover for what they are doing. This approach also allows us to help each other as we develop our abilities. Freediving is a competitive sport and when training at a high level it is possible to push yourself to black out and so we all practise safety diving regularly. We encourage increasing times and distances by incremental improvements and regular consolidation of new personal bests.
At the start of any pool session you attend everyone discusses what their aims are for the session, whether that’s developing apnea through tables, working on techniques, attempting a new personal best, or consolidating training by diving a set distance. We make practising surface coaching and safety techniques a regular part of sessions. This lets us make sure that we get the best use of the time in the pool, allowing people to achieve their own personal goals whilst staying safe. We undertake a risk assessment of pools before we use them for the first time and review this annually or more regularly if anything changes. We frequently share pools session with scuba clubs and so share lifeguarding responsibilities with them.
There are more risks inherent in open water due to remote locations, depth training, temperatures and visibility. Here, more than ever, it is critical to dive within your and your buddie’s limits. As a club we undertake risk assessments of the sites we visit regularly and teach our members how to assess sites themselves upon arrival. When depth diving we use a line and lanyard to keep the diver attached to the line. As with the pool freediving as the courses progress to open water all divers are taught safety techniques from how to assess a site and judge weather conditions to bringing a diver to the surface, getting them to shore and getting appropriate assistance if needed. We have never needed to recover a diver from open water but we take the risk very seriously and recommend a minimum of three divers on open water trips.
NEVER DIVE ALONE
Spearfishing has all of the risks of open water plus the additional distraction of watching the fish and the fact that participants are holding big sharp spears on guns that can fire many metres. We recommend diving with a buddy, carefully assessing your dive site, always using a float, diving well within your limits and taking adequate surface breaks.