Freediving in Cabo San Lucas
By Laura Tyrrell, PADI IDC Staff instructor and dive guide at Cabo Trek
I’m a scuba diver and have been for over 10 years, 8 of which have been at a professional level. There’s nothing better than experiencing the peace and freedom of descending into a deep canyon like a sky diver surrounded by fish of all shapes, sizes and colors of the rainbow. Except now maybe there is something better: I introduce to you the world of freediving. Freediving is like snorkeling on steroids. But peaceful, relaxing, gentle steroids. What I mean is: Freediving is another way to explore the aquatic environment at a much more advanced level than you would on a snorkel tour. The key to freediving is relaxation and this makes a nice change from lugging 12 kilo tanks on your back and swimming against even a mild current as is common in scuba.
If you have ever donned a snorkel set and have duck dived down to any given depth then you technically have experienced ‘freediving’. However a course (conducted by many different organizations from AIDA to SSI to PADI) teaches you ways to relax in the water to be able to stay down longer and at the same time also teaches safety/rescue procedures.
Freediving is all about unlocking the body’s ability to preserve oxygen and reduce co2 build up by relaxation. Relaxing is key. Did you know the ‘urge to breathe’ is actually down to building levels of co2 in the body and not lack of oxygen? To be efficient freedivers we must learn to combine technique, relaxation and regular practice.
I took part in a 2* star AIDA course in Cabo San Lucas with Benoit Frachet at Ocean Tigers Dive House. The 2* course involves 4 disciplines over 3 days: Static Apnea (2 minute breath hold in confined water), dynamic (swimming horizontally with fins over 40 meters), free immersion (no fin use, using arms to pull yourself 16 meters down the line) and constant weight (duck diving with fins to 16 meters). By the end of the course I actually beat the course performance and I now have a personal best of 19m! All this among schooling mobula rays in the bay. Very exciting! Benoit’s course was interesting, challenging and a lot of fun. We dived 2 different sites in the bay and once out in blue water.
My 19m/2 minute breath hold personal best (aka ‘only recent attempt’) quite obviously shadows in comparison to the world’s best. The world record for free immersion is currently 124 meters (men) and 92 meters (women). Interestingly the world records for static apnea in the pool are: 11 minutes 35 seconds (men) and 9 minutes 2 seconds (women). Incredible stuff! Better get practicing then. And remember if you’re not quite ready to get to this yet there is even an AIDA 1* intro level or you can simply just go snorkeling!
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