Geelong, Gateway to the Bellarine and Surf Coast
The City of Geelong has for a long time supported its people with magnificent aquatic activities. Why then would Geelong freediving be any different!
Geelong Freediving Course Highlights – 19th & 20th November
Way back in 1939, the Mayor of Geelong, Sol Jacobs, opened the city’s sea baths or rather, swimming enclosure. Catering for up to 10,000 swimmers, it sparked excitement in the populace. More than 75 years later it stands as a remarkable feature of Geelong’s beach and waterfront area. [Source: Wikipedia].
Nowadays, Geelong is transforming from a strong industrial heritage and is wowing visitors with food and wine trails, creative arts, markets, motoring festivals and developing cafe culture. Those who’ve been travelling from Melbourne for many years chasing the surf, will be well informed observers of Geelong’s changing ways. Learn more via the Visit Geelong and The Bellarine website.
Whether you’re a new aquatic enthusiast, Lorne Pier to Pub swimmer, Bells Beach Surf Contest regular or aspiring freediver or Shipwreck Coast Skindiver, taking a PADI Basic Freediver course is set to take you to new depths.
Geelong Freediving Course
For six new freedivers, the weekend of 19-20th November saw them tackle their first level training towards becoming certified freedivers. Thanks to our friendly and welcoming hosts at Geelong Dive Centre, here’s what unfolded.
Freediving Theory Sessions
Meeting at our conveniently located host site in central Geelong, Geelong Dive Centre Manager, Dave, greeted us and set us up in the purpose built training area. Over a few hours the six eager recruits got to know each other’s experience, their goals and objectives and what they wanted to become as freedivers after completing the course.
Guided by instructor Marlon, they began their training learning about the elements of freediving, including:
- how to freedive safely
- the buddy system
- how to choose the right gear and equipment
- the risks of combining scuba and freediving
- how to equalise their ears
- techniques for relaxation
- breathing awareness and breath control
- establishing routines to use before each plunge, and
- how to recover properly and safely after each dive.
Pool Freediving Sessions
Following a concentrated few hours of theory, relaxation and breathing practice, the time came to perform the pool freediving training. A grand total of five minutes away from the Geelong Dive Centre, we were able to enjoy the outdoor pool of the Kardinia Aquatic Centre. A perfect place to be on a clear sunny day with temperatures in the 20s.
The most challenging part of any freediving session for new recruits, it’s not the static drills, the dynamic swimming, not even the simulated rescues, it’s the putting on of the open cell wetsuit for the first time. Onlookers found new entertainment in watching the personal war with neoprene. The recruits got their own back though, adopting the persona of a boy band and strutting their stuff on the poolside promenade. Never has neoprene looked so appealing!
Into the practical session, Marlon took the recruits through two parts of a solid series of practical training. The highlights include:
- Snorkel breathing and relaxation (see our previous blog for tips)
- The buddy system (one-up, one-down rule)
- Static breath hold training
- Recovery breathing
- Finning technique and hydrodynamics
- Dynamic breath hold swimming
- Rescue simulation
Over three hours, the recruits performed multiple static breath-holds, swam laps of the pool underwater and practiced rescue techniques. The reality of the importance of such training became clear as we had a positive discussion with the roaming Lifeguards about quick-release weight-belts, recovery techniques specific to freediving and how we train safely in the pool using the buddy system.
All through the sessions, instructor Marlon, discussed the performances with the group and provided individual feedback to each new freediver to shape their progress in line with their personal objectives.
Open Water Freediving Sessions
The most exciting part of any freediver’s development, is of course taking their new found skills and knowledge into the open water.
WaterMaarq’s charter boat Kavorca, the custom Zodiac Milpro RIB, met the squad in Queenscliff on what has to have been one of the best weekend weather days we’ve struck in a while. The enthusiasm was certainly peaking!
Setting our sights on the quieter parts of the bay, away from boat traffic and jetskis, we soon got started on the base elements of depth freediving. Enjoying a clear space next to Pope’s Eye marine park, we dropped the float and line in and marvelled at the calm, and inviting water. Then it was down to work, this is training after all!
The double-dive session format on this occasion asks a lot of new freedivers. Endurance, concentration, attention and focus is put to the test. Ordinarily we prefer to spread the sessions over two separate dives, but for this course, our energised and motivated recruits just lapped it up.
During the session, it’s really up to each individual freediver to take the steps in a comfortable slow progress approach. Everyone responds differently to freediving, some are challenged in the mind, others with equalising, some with duck-dive technique, finning and body-position is a regular focus and then the final challenge is the sensations of pressure as one dives deeper.
In order to make sure each freediver gains the most from the training experience, instructor Marlon spends moments after each plunge talking through the dive, gaining insights from the freediver and then tailoring the approach for the next plunge. It’s a process that enables each freediver to progress in their own way, within their own limits, to find all they need as they dive deeper and longer.
For this hardy squad of freedivers, they didn’t want to leave the water! After a good double session of training on the float and line, we then visited the fish and healthy marine life at Pope’s Eye. Free from the depth line, the squad unleashed their new skills to see eye-to-eye with species including blue throat wrasse, scalyfin and old wives. It was a wonderful way to complete the Geelong freediving course.
It’s a Wrap
Thanks goes to our friends and kind hosts at Geelong Dive Centre for supporting the Geelong freediving course. They certainly made the difference in extending the community of freedivers in Geelong and the Bellarine Peninsula.
Next Geelong Freediving Course
- Friday 16th December, 2pm-7pm
- Friday 20th January, 2pm-7pm
- Friday 3rd March, 2pm-7pm
All images in this post taken using our trusty Nikon AW130 Waterproof Camera.
All images edited using the Adobe Creative Cloud suite including Lightroom and Photoshop.