Freediving is very successful, to the point that it is sometimes difficult to find places in a club. Known for its philosophy that advocates “letting go” and its relationship with nature, the practice finds its audience.
The Ministry of Sports and the Olympic and Paralympic Games lists 2.5 million occasional or regular freedivers in 2016. “Today is certainly much more”, said Olivia Fricker, vice chair of the National Apnea Commission at the FFESSM. A practitioner since she was 14, the captain of the French team from 2011 to 2019 has seen the number of freedivers grow over the years.
The film The big blue released by Luc Besson in 1988 caused a craze around the practice. “From there it was necessary (because nothing existed) to set up the training courses for instructors and practitioners and first aid”summarizes Olivia Fricker, referring to the many accidents of the time, often due to ignorance of the discipline and its physiology.
This activity is not trivial for the body. During the immersion, the pressure on the body and lungs increases. At ten meters, the lungs are twice as small. “An uninitiated can have syncope, namely a loss of consciousness”, warns the freediver. That’s why she insists on never diving alone and turning to clubs to get started. In order to limit accidents, the training sessions in the “Spearfishing and snorkeling” and first aid appear in 1990. In clubs, freedivers obtain certificates confirming their good practice.
To dive independently and always in pairs according to federal recommendations, you must be licensed, have the “Freediver in open water” level and have the RIFA (Reactions and Intervention Faced with Underwater Accidents – Apnea Specialty) first aid certificate.
Despite recommendations, “39% of practitioners only dive occasionally”notes the Ministry of Sports and the Olympic and Paralympic Games in its latest report, published in 2016.
A discipline that is responsible for the environment
Ever since The big blue, the years have passed, but the demand is still there. For a beginner looking to explore freediving, finding a place in a club can be difficult. “By the sea or in the swimming pool, the slots of the town halls are not expandable”regrets Olivia Fricker.
“There is an image of a discipline that is responsible for the environment, that loves water, that loves the sea”analyzes the former captain of the French team from 2011 to 2017. .
Mainly practiced by adults who “don’t have time to breathe,” apnea represents the promise of a philosophy advocating relaxation. “Often, freedivers practice pranayama or “breath yoga” in addition to freediving. The work of the breath generally makes it possible to release emotional or physical blockages that hinder our balance in life.”, says the specialist. The effects on the body are felt in some practitioners, the practice of apnea entering the field of health sports.
This is the case, to cite just one example, of a licensee of the French Federation of Underwater Studies and Sport (FFESSM) who saw his blood pressure drop during exercise. “It’s not scientifically proven yet, but he thinks letting go helped lower his blood pressure”shadow Olivia Fricker.
(ETX Daily Up)