Freediving 101: Prepare For Your First Freediving Course

Updated: Jul 7

So you’ve decided to get into freediving and have booked your first freediving course. Congratulations! You’re about to embark on a life-changing journey that will give you the skills to safely explore the underwater world on one breath. Perhaps you’ve recently seen some awe-inspiring freediving content and you’re ready to grab your mask and fins to dive in right now! If that’s not you, and maybe you have no idea how to get started, this little guide was created just for you to help you prepare for your first freediving course.

What gear do I need for my first freediving course?

Here’s the short list: a low volume freediving mask, soft snorkel, rubber weight belt, weights, a freediving wetsuit appropriate for conditions in your area, neoprene socks and gloves, and freediving fins. If you’re not sure about what gear to purchase, make sure to ask your instructor! While some of the gear may be available to rent, it is important to know what you will need to purchase, and it’s important to have enough lead time to have all of your gear arrive so you’re fully prepared for your first day in the water. Do not cut corners on purchasing the correct freediving gear for your course! You will be in the water for up to several hours at a time, and the last thing you want to do is cut an in-water session short or cancel it because you are too cold. A Level 1 Freediving Course is jam packed with information, and having appropriate freediving gear is an integral piece of making sure you can meet all of the course requirements within the allotted time. For more information on what gear to purchase for your freediving gear bag, view this article.

What are the prerequisites to taking my first freediving course?

Much of the information you need to be successful in your first freediving course will be taught to you while you are in the classroom, the pool, or your open water sessions. However, the most important skill to have prior to the course is comfort in the water. Can you swim 100 meters (2 pool lengths down and back) without the assistance of a floatation device?

While you will be positively buoyant at the surface prior to your dives in the course, we can’t stress how important it is to be comfortable in the water before your course! This way, you can focus on learning the concepts that your instructor is teaching you and have plenty of time to practice. Do you have experience with snorkeling, mermaiding, or scuba diving? That is excellent! While the skills you learn during those activities will help you in your first freediving course, it is important to remember that freediving may present different obstacles. If you are frustrated that you’re having difficulty with a particular skill presented in the course, remember that freediving is a journey, and it’s perfectly okay to reach your destination at a pace that is comfortable and safe for you!

How should I prepare for my first freediving course?

Read through the course material and make sure you understand it prior to showing up in the classroom on your first day. Knowledge is power, and having a solid understanding of how depth and water pressure affect your body will be useful for understanding what sensations you might be feeling. Ask your instructor about exercises to help you build familiarity with equalization prior to your course. One of the main reasons that students don’t pass their freediving course in the time allotted is not because of the breath hold, but due to an inability to correctly equalize air spaces in their body that are compressed during a dive. While some very driven students will be motivated to maximize their breath hold prior to the course, it is important to remember NOT TO DIVE ALONE. Practice your breath hold dry, practice equalization dry, but DO NOT dive without the supervision of a trained dive buddy.


On the few days leading up to the course, make sure to avoid allergens or foods that may cause inflammation in your body. While this list varies from person to person, some common things to avoid are alcohol, sugars, and dairy. Drink plenty of water leading up to the course to make sure that you are well-hydrated.

What will I learn in my first freediving course?

Your first freediving course will teach you how to safely dive between 10 and 20 meters (33 to 66 feet) deep. You learn about how to safely equalize air spaces that are compressed during a dive, how to safely extend your breath hold, and how tides, wind, and currents can affect your dive sessions. All freediving courses will go into recognizing signs of a freediving loss of motor control (LMC) or blackout and allow you to practice how you would rescue a dive buddy if they were in trouble. Most importantly, you will learn common safety oversights if you are a self-taught freediver and how to prevent accidents related to those oversights.

What if I fail my first freediving course?

Before we start to get hung up on the idea of failure, let’s take some time to redefine failure and set expectations appropriately. Freediving is not just about a certification. Many students who are used to succeeding at everything they put their mind to might get frustrated because they can’t meet all of the course requirements in the 2-3 day course. While it sucks, “failure” is a part of life, and it’s part of the journey in freediving. Make sure that you communicate with your instructor about their policies for booking additional dive sessions to complete course requirements if you need them. Lastly, never get discouraged! Becoming a competent freediver involves repetition and practice, and it’s more important to know when to pause and reflect so you can go back into your freediving journey with a fresh outlook. Either way, you’re going to walk out of a course with more knowledge than when you first started the course.

Once again, congratulations on taking the first step to learning a rewarding new skill. Freediving has the potential to improve your physical and mental health, help you manage stress, and help you explore the world in a new way. Lastly, one of the most important aspects of learning how to freedive is the chance to join a community of like-minded people with a common interest. Welcome to the freediving family! We’re glad you’re here.

Rachel is a mermaid performance artist, stunt performer, an SSI Level 1 and 2 Freediving Instructor, an SSI Mermaid Instructor, and Miss Mermaid Nevada 2021-2022. She was a commentator for the 2021 Vertical Blue Freediving Competition in Dean’s Blue Hole, and she makes frequent appearances on the Scuba Radio Show to share her passion for mermaiding and freediving. Rachel started Aquanauts Freediving LLC to share her passion of underwater exploration with others and loves finding new places to freedive! If you are interested in learning how to become a mermaid or freediver, join us in an upcoming course or retreat.

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