Pool freediving for beginners




You arrive at the pool with a buddy to train with, you gear up feel ready to get in the water.

fins..... check , mask... check, weights... check........ You leap into the water ready and keen to start training along your freediving journey.

now what do i do????

This is a common occurrence i encounter with a casual training group that i oversee and occasionally coach.For the past 5 years i have looked after the Sydney freedivers club, the first freediving training group in Australia. we introduce a wide range of divers from complete uncertified beginners to certified divers looking for a place to master their craft.

The one constant that i have noticed among all the newcomers to the sport that i eventually provide followup training for, is a lack of knowledge for how you structure your training or what to focus on first. This tends to be a part which for some reason most modern instructors don't put much focus on while delivering a course, putting most of the focus on the depth practical part of a weekend certification over teaching the skills to develop in the place where most divers will spend a lot of their training time. The following is a crash course in how to develop your pool game and get the most out of your pool time.


Your'e new, there's a lot to learn, take your time to do the little things right.

Your first session is all about getting into your groove, finding some comfort with breath holding and building the foundations of your technique. This can involve a few easy swims and 1-2 light tables, the focus of this session is to identify any potential bad habits and working to correct any errors. 

The key is to pick something big that can be fixed easily first and work your way down from there. For most divers the best place to start is your head, keep your head relaxed and facing the bottom of the pool, this will make swimming easier and the dive will feel more comfortable too. the next thing to look at will be your finning, you want to avoid swimming to fast but also need to be aware that too slow will eat into your air. a good way to think of timing is by listening to a metronome, a good dynamic pace is between 60-70bpm tempo and is and easy pace to hold without straining your legs.

your arms preferably should be resting over the front of your hips, leaving your arms to loosely drag by your sides will slow your down. for most divers this will keep you busy for your first few sessions making the little adjustments a new habit. Once you feel comfortable and settled in we can start with some drills.

CO2 tables

Co2 tables or carbon dioxide tolerance training is a great way to get involved in some more physical training. Co2 is what brings on the urge to breathe in divers and comes up in an array of contractions of muscles around your neck and abdomen, It is important to remember that as uncomfortable as it feels at first these early signs do not mean your are out of air.

 The simplest way to approach this is to conduct interval tables, these tables have a set distance that is relatively easy to complete (for beginners either 25/50m). Then it is simply a matter of reducing the recovery time at each end, this will mean you have enough time to get your breathe at first then as the drill progresses the plan is to reduce your recovery time by a set interval.

Basic co2 table:

  • 25m dynamic - 1:00 rest

  • 25m dynamic - 0:50 rest

  • 25m dynamic - 0:40 rest

  • 25m dynamic - 0:30 rest

  • 25m dynamic - 0:20 rest

  • 25m dynamic - 0:10 rest

You can make these tables as difficult as you want them to be, the key to Co2 training is it's supposed to feel uncomfortable. 

"if a table is easily beaten, you aren't training properly"

Delay training

Always provide active safety in the pool

Always provide active safety in the pool

Training for longer dives that can also mimic a spearfishing or photography dive and learning to place more focus on your relaxation is where delay training excels. the idea is to place a delay or static apnea at  a point of your dive depending on on what you are training for.

  • set a distance of your swim

  • set a time for your delay

  • pick a spot in your dive for a delay (start/middle/end

Get your safety buddy to carry a stop watch and follow you throughout your dive, a good mental booster is to also record the total dive time so you can feel more confident in longer performances in the future. for longer dive times more relaxing dives, delay at the start. for a dive that mimics a depth dive to pursue prey or a picture, delay in the  middle of your dive. And for those that like a challenge delay at the end of your swim. each of these will feel different as there is a changing level of co2 present in your body at each delay.

Whats next?

For future training sessions plan your program ahead of time. For most training venues you only get a limited window of time to train, get the most out of a session by writing it down, showing your buddy the plan and going for it. save the small talk for after training and focus on developing your abilities. If you allow this you will most definitely see a boost in your performance very quickly.

If you wish to try a personal best for distance always do it in the first few dives of a session so your body is fresh, later session dives can increase chance of failure or blackout. once you hit a PB increase in small increments from there adding a few meters at a time. It is unnecessary to push for a PB each week, you will find greater rewards in developing a stronger diver over time rather than chasing a number.

Always remember to train safe and always have a trained safety buddy watching you at all times during training.

till next time ,