We'll admit it, we are hardcore scuba divers, give us a tank and we are in heaven, tell us to hold our breath and we will tell you that's not allowed. So for years we chose scuba diving over freediving, but then we saw the cenotes in Mexico..... could these magical underground openings be the perfect place to finally start freediving?
What is Free diving and why is it different from scuba diving?
Freediving is a form of underwater diving that relies on breath-holding until resurfacing rather than the use of breathing apparatus such as scuba gear. The only 'gear' used by a freediver is fins, wetsuit (optional), weights, a mask and snorkel. Your dive is reliant on one breath and no scuba tank.
Scuba divers and snorkelers usually dive to observe aquatic life and calmly enjoy the aquatic environment whereas freedivers typically attempt to achieve a depth or dive time, usually simply going up and down a line.
Because freediving is done on one breath the dive is short, unlike scuba diving where you can dive within your limits until your air in your tank is running low.
What will you do in your Level 1 course?
Your level 1 course is your introduction to freediving, on this course you will learn the proper breathing techniques, familiarize yourself with diaphragmatic breathing and take a deep breath like you never have before. In the SSI level 1 Freediving course you will acquire proper skills and knowledge to partake in Freediving to depths of 20 meters in the most relaxed and safest manner possible. You will develop skills necessary to train your body to be more efficient with oxygen, gain better respiration and muscle flexibility and learn new skills to take your freediving to the next level.
You will learn how to hold you breath longer than ever before and understand the effects it has on your body. You will also learn the first stages of rescue and recovery in freediving.
Is it scary?
We've added this question as we heard this question a few times. People worry that holding your breath and going deep underwater will be scary. The great thing is with the amazing teaching and education you get during your SSI Level 1 Freediving course you learn how to control your breathing and your thoughts to allow freediving to be the most calming and relaxing feeling - free of fear. Of course there is an element of nerves, but once you conquer them it is the most amazing natural high you can experience. This is when you will start to get addicted to freediving! And remember, "success is on the other side of your comfort zone"!
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Will I be good at it?
You will be after your course, but as a scuba diver you are likely comfortable with water and you understand how your body works while in water, that you may be a complete natural at freediving. And if not straight away, that's what the course is for. Don't worry about being good at it, just give it a go and see how it makes you feel, you don't have to be a pro straight away!
Read also: Scuba diving the cenotes
Why do your course with Amancay in Mexico?
Mexico, in particular Rivera Maya is a very special place to learn to freedive because of one amazing natural miracle; the cenotes. A cenote is a natural pit, or sinkhole, resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater underneath. Especially associated with the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico, cenotes were sometimes used by the ancient Maya for sacrificial offerings. The cenotes are full of fresh water with no current at all - perfect conditions to start freediving. What you will see on one single breath is somewhat life-changing, in just a few seconds you feel like you've been taken to a new world. It simple has to be experienced to be believed. Trust us.
So you're sold on Mexico, but who do you start your freedive training with? Let us introduce you to Amancay Freediving - an ALL FEMALE freedive centre in Playa del Carmen/Tulum founded by sister team Candelaria and Lucrecia. Of course, we were sold on the all female aspect straight away (think about it, how many all female dive centres do you know? We don't know any) and that they are the first SSI Freediving centre in Riveria Maya, but then we met and dived with them and now they are our soul sisters! Alongside some of their amazing female instructors their girl power energy is strong enough to take over the world. Each day we spent with them we felt stronger and more loved than the last. Amancay is not just about freediving, it's about friendship, comradely and lifelong connections.
Photography at the cenotes/during freediving
Now, let's not forget to talk about these incredible photos! Just WOW, how beautiful are they?! We were lucky enough to be joined by another incredible female soul Marianna Tombini a photographer based in Riviera Maya capturing beautiful moments in freediving and scuba diving around the area. She knows the right cenotes and the right times to go to produce the best photos that will capture some of these special moments forever. We are truly grateful for Marianna's talent and knowledge! She currently just has an Instagram so contact her via private message here.