PADI Freediving - What's it all About?
For many people in the Freediving community, early reports about the content and delivery of the new PADI freediver courses were more than a little concerning. Here at Freedive earth we had our ears to the ground and heard everything from "you only need a scuba instructor certificate plus a day's course to qualify as an instructor" to "they're teaching hyperventillation". Not content with rumour and innuendo, however, we got in touch with PADI directly and found ourselves pleasently surprised. Here's what they told us:
What’s different about PADI freediving? What are you bringing to the mix?
In its 50th anniversary year, PADI is excited to launch the new PADI Freediver program. PADI will be offering a range of exciting elements to freediving that haven’t been available before. One of these is that the PADI Freediver program features quality, tablet-based training materials so students can access PADI Freediver Touch™ from the convenience of their tablets with or without an internet connection. In addition to this, the PADI Freediver Touch includes all tablet-based training modules needed for PADI Freediver, Advanced Freediver and Master Freediver. PADI Freediver also incorporates supervised pool and open water training designed to facilitate mastery of the concepts covered in the tablet-based curriculum.
Another difference is that the program was developed from first-hand experience by industry experts and competitive freedivers from across the globe. The PADI Freediver Advisory Group included industry experts such as Oli Christen from Indonesia, Myoungho Noh from South Korea and Jay Huang from Taiwan from the Asia Pacific region. When this was combined with PADI’s market leading experience and knowledge in regards to educational capabilities, a best in field experience is now available for new and existing freedivers.
Can you sum up your approach to freediving education for our readers?
The PADI System of diver education is based on progressive training that introduces skills, safety-related information and local environmental knowledge to student divers in stages. PADI courses are student-centered and provide maximum practice and realistic application. PADI Freediver Instructors make underwater exploration and freediving adventures possible while maintaining the highest standards for diver training, safety and customer service.
The PADI Freediver tiered course structure has participants build upon their skill sets and knowledge as they advance from PADI Freediver to PADI Advanced Freediver and further to PADI Master Freediver.
The PADI Freediver course consists of three main phases:
- Knowledge development about freediving principles through independent study with the PADI Freediver Touch (or your instructor may conduct class sessions).
- Confined water session to learn breath hold techniques and static and dynamic apnea. Goal – static apnea of 90 seconds and dynamic apnea horizontal swim of 25 metres/80 feet.
- Open water sessions to practice free immersion and constant weight freedives, plus proper buddy procedures. Goal – constant weight freedive of 10 metres/30 feet.
The PADI Advanced Freediver course consists of three main phases:
- Knowledge development about advanced freediving techniques and equipment. You’ll study independently using the PADI Freediver Touch (or your instructor may conduct class sessions).
- Confined water session to learn stretching and relaxation techniques as well as refine static and dynamic apnea. Goal – static apnea of 2 minutes, 30 seconds (2 minutes for freedivers younger than 18) and dynamic apnea of 50 metres/165 feet (40 metres/130 feet for freedivers younger than 18).
- Open water sessions to practice deeper free immersion and constant weight freedives, along with additional buddy procedures and rescue techniques. Goal – constant weight freedive of 20 metres/65 feet (15 metres/50 feet for freedivers younger than 18).
The PADI Master Freediver course consists of three main phases:
- Knowledge development about nutrition, relaxation and advanced breathing techniques. You’ll study independently using the PADI Freediver Touch (or your instructor may conduct class sessions). You’ll also complete independent research as part of the Master Freediver Assignment.
- Confined water session to improve static and dynamic apnea attempts, including a no fins dynamic apnea. Goal – static apnea of 3 minutes, 30 seconds and dynamic apnea of 70 metres/230 feet.
- Open water sessions to practice mouthfill equalisation and perform warm-up and workup dives for free immersion and constant weight freediving. Goal – constant weight freedive of 27 metres/90 feet.
The age requirements for the PADI Freediver and PADI Advanced Freediver courses are 15 years old or older while the PADI Master Freediver is 18 years old or older.
Where do you see PADI freediving in 5 years’ time? Are your courses an addition to SCUBA education, or a growing entity in their own right? Will there be PADI schools that exclusively offer freediving?
Freediving is a unique activity and sport which will provide exciting opportunities for freedivers in the coming years. Like all PADI courses, PADI Freediving courses are student-centered and provide maximum practice and realistic application. As PADI and PADI Members create new opportunities and demands for freediving, new offerings will be available. PADI Dive Centers & Resorts already offer PADI Freediver courses along with scuba diving courses and the vast arrange of services they provide. There are also PADI Freediver Centers and Resorts that offer freediving exclusively. You can visit padi.com for see all the PADI Freediver courses along with PADI Dive Shops & PADI Freediver Shops.
What has motivated PADI to begin offering freediving education?
Freediving, as both an activity and sport, is already enjoyed by many enthusiasts around the world. PADI was already offering PADI Freediving as a PADI Specialty course for a number of years and has always incorporated elements related to skin diving in scuba related courses. The new program is based on the demand and opportunities for an expanded PADI Freediver course range. This will help ensure a best in field experience is now available for new and existing freedivers.
Alejandro Lemus, Underwater Explorer and PanAmerican Free Diving Champion, put it well when he stated “The PADI Freediver program offers high quality training and has the best value standards for both instructors and students. PADI will bring a new level of consciousness into the sport that we’ve never seen before.”
You can find out more about PADI Freediver at padi.com