When you were younger, making a competition out of who could hold their breaths the longest was a must whenever you swam with your friends and family. Barely holding your breath for 30 seconds seems like a huge feat itself, but imagine holding your breath for more than 3 minutes.
It seems impossible, but there’s actually a professional sport for it called freediving. Freediving refers to a form of underwater diving, where you dive and hold your breath until you resurface – without relying on breathing gear such as snorkels or scuba gear.
Most professional freedivers can hold their breath underwater for more than 10 minutes, but the act of holding your breath for a long duration – especially underwater – makes it an extremely dangerous sport without supervision.
Freediving activities include recreational hunting and gathering, like spearfishing, and also competitive water sports including aquathlons (underwater wrestling), competitive spearfishing, synchronized swimming, underwater hockey, and underwater football amongst others.
Meanwhile, competitive freediving (also known as competitive apnea) wherein athletes hold their breath underwater for a duration of time until resurfacing.
There are 6 types of freediving:
1. Constant Weight Freediving
Is a depth discipline and can be done with or without using fins. This means divers descend under their weight into the water.
2. Free Immersion Freediving
Depth discipline too, divers descend underwater with a rope and resurface by pulling themselves back up.
3. Variable Weight Freediving
Although not competitive, this form of freediving adds extra weights to descend and ascends without the weights.
4. No Limits Freediving
This form of freediving allows the diver to descend and ascend with any preferred choice, such as a heavy metal bar to descend and an inflatable vest to ascend rapidly.
5. Static Apnea
Instead of an open ocean, this is usually done in a swimming pool where divers hold their breaths on the surface of the water without swimming.
6. Dynamic Apnea
Also practiced in a swimming pool, it involved the divers holding their breath while swimming for a duration of time.