What is Freediving - Static Breath Holding Discipline Explained
Static Apnoea: Description
Static apnoea is a pure breath-hold discipline. For competitions athletes lie face-down in the water for as long as possible, but the discipline can also (obviously!) be performed on dry land. Water is beneficial because it stimulates the mamamlian dive response which lowers the heart rate and shifts blood towards the central organs of the body. This helps the diver to consume less oxygen during the hold. Whether on land or in the water the diver must relax as much as possible, not only in order to conserve oxygen, but also to help them to overcome the urge to breathe.
Static Apnoea: Technical Considerations
Although it may seem as simple as lying face down in the water, Static Apnoea is actually one of the more technical disciplines. The breathe-up is important in helping the diver to establish a state of relaxation and to ensure that they begin the hold with exactly the right amounts of Oxygen and Carbon Dioxide in the blood. Complete physical and mental relaxation is necessary for a good static breath-hold and achieving this state, even in a competition environment, is technical in itself. STA specialists typically use very specific relaxation and meditation techniques to reduce their consumption of oxygen and spend a long time training their lungs to become more flexible and to take in more air.
Have a look at our maximum breath-hold calculator here [link to breath-hold series post 6] Here's a video of the latest record attempt by world record holder Branko Petrovic (don't worry, it's not the whole thing!)
Static Apnoea requires the freediver to be still and relaxed in the water for a long period of time. Any shivering or discomfort caused by being too cold or too hot will dramatically affect the breath-hold performance and so wearing a wetsuit of the right thickness is very important. A wetsuit also provides ample buoyancy for a STA diver, meaning that they can completely relax and let the water support their body weight. A mask can be used for STA but many divers prefer to use just a noseclip, sometimes with fluid or pool goggles. These options will help to increase the mammalian dive response by exposing more of the face to the water.
IMPORTANT: Any kind of breath-hold activity in water is potentially dangerous. Don't try and do this (even just for a minute or two) without the supervision of a qualified and experienced freediver. If you don't know any freedivers, look up your local school on our freediving school directory here, or have a look on google for your local club.
Remember, Never, Ever Freedive alone.
STA World Records
Women - Natalia Molchanova (RUS) 9min 2sec
Men - Branko Petrovic (CRO) 11min 54sec