Bigger Holds Better Control

Put yourself in control in bigger waves. Paddle out with confidence. 

WaterMaarq, since 2014, Melbourne’s premiere and most experienced local freediving school. Learn the ancient art of diving on one breath, becoming calmer in bigger surf and attacking the waves you want to with big wave hold down training.

Endorsed by Master Freediving Instructor Marlon Quinn - AIDA, Apnea Academy, Apnea International, AUSI and PADI Freediver certified

Manage fear using professional breath training

Be in control, get the most from your surf

PADI Basic Freediver certified course

Ideal for big wave surfers, bodyboarders, body surfers and ocean swimmers

From $399 per student, only 4-8 per course

 1-Day Course
Limited Schedule & Places*
(Only Held Twice a Year)

*Autumn & Spring capped at maximum 8x student places each.

Located in Cheltenham VIC 3192.
On-line learning, Classroom & Pool Training Included.

Details & Itinerary

Sliding down the face, younger me yells at older me, “#$%*!”.

When there’s never enough time to get to the surf, then the time you get in the surf better be enough.

Make each surf session count with renewed confidence. Whether it’s taking a beating paddling out for that first time and getting out the back sweetly and in one piece without stress. Or sliding down the face of that biggest wave and armed and ready for a pounding, let the older you surf like the younger you and attack each set with a mind set free from the tethers of the boardroom, toolbox talk, or the fear of hold downs.

  • Learn the core foundations with 7-years experienced PADI Master Freediving Instructor, Marlon Quinn and find out why it’s so much more than just being able to suffer.


You are guaranteed to better manage your wave hold-down fears with WaterMaarq surf specific professional freediving breath-hold training. Founded by freediving instructor and body surfer Marlon Quinn, WaterMaarq is Melbourne’s premiere freediving school operating since 2014. 

The surf hold down methods you’ll learn are used by surfers all across the Mornington Peninsula, the Surf Coast and at least as far flung as Adelaide, Perth and Bali.

In this course you’ll benefit from becoming calmer, better connected with your body, and understand your inner mind and fears to have the confidence to enjoy bigger surf.   


Most surf survival courses focus on big long breath-holds with super long static hold times as the medal of honour. However a 6-minute breath-hold is not going to save you in 10ft swell in Bass Strait.

What will save you is hard and intense repeated hold downs with little recovery. As you duck under that 10th wave because you ended up caught inside, it’s no longer thoughts that have you fighting to come up that worry you, it’s sensing the white frothing water, calming your mind and body, timing your rise to the surface for that sweet inhale, just before taking the next wave on the head as you edge further out the back.

As Victoria’s Number One Adventure Tourism operators we are experts in taking you from fear to inner calm with our highly experienced and certified freediving instructors by your side, all in just a few quality focussed sessions.

Join the award-winning WaterMaarq on a certified surf survival tailored PADI Basic Freediver course and experience it for yourself. See guest reviews on TripAdvisor.


The PADI Freediver education system is recognised worldwide, so wherever you go, you can even freedive with ease as a certified freediver.

Successful completion of the PADI Basic Freediver course essentially qualifies you as a pool freediver, a certification recognised across the world. This is the first half of the Level One training known as PADI Freediver. 

Learning to hold your breath on a surf survival course fast-tracks your learning in a safe, methodical manner in a controlled environment, it’s the best way to make progress properly and safely.



Before the course:
– Self-paced learning (up to 10 hours)
At the course:
– Classroom session (2 hours)
– Double pool session (3 hours)

The indicative schedule for a morning course beginning at 9:30am is as follows:

*At least one day before the course session, PADI Freediver on-line learning modules completed

9:15am Arrive at the classroom venue 

9:30am Classroom theory and practical breathing skills workshop

11:45am Swimming Pool Session – Static breath-hold training, underwater swimming, hold-down simulations, safety and rescue drills 

2:30pm Basic course complete

2:45pm Debrief and departure


What You Should Bring

Classroom session:
Notepad and pen if you would like to take notes. Drink bottle.

Pool Session:
Please bring your own swimwear, towel, mask, snorkel, fins (optional), wetsuit (4-5mm). If you don’t have any gear, hire equipment is available and must be pre-ordered during the booking process (hire gear is not available on the day):

  • 5mm one-piece wetsuit
  • Mask, snorkel, fins
  • Weight-belt
Best Things About This Course

The breathhold training course specifically tuned for surfers will take you closer. No matter what level of board rider, body surfer or swimmer you are, no matter what waves you surf – you will benefit from learning how to improve your breath-hold and your surf survival. After years of experience in the field of breathing and high performance training we have a system that will maximise your ability to perform in extreme conditions.

In this course you’ll perform a series of breathing drills and demonstrate your new surf survival skills in real time. You can apply them straight away in your next surf.

Frequently Asked

When do we arrive?
Be at the classroom venue 15-minutes before the course begins. Allow plenty of time to find parking and make your way to the venue. 

Where do we meet?
The venue details will be provided in the confirmation booking email. 

What does the course involve?
Under the guidance of your instructor you will learn breathing techniques for relaxation which will help you prepare for the breath-hold. You’ll identify the markers of your individual breath-hold, or as we like to call it, the map of your breath-hold. These are your own personal signals and knowing them improves your state of mind, safety and strengthens your capacity for inner calm. You’ll perform surf hold down simulation drills, apply the buddy system and practice rescue techniques. 

Can anyone join?
We recommend the course for ages 18 and over. It’s ideal for everyone who loves surfing, body surfing, body boarding, surf photographers and videographers and surf rescuers. If you wish to be more calm in the water, to manage your fears, to master wave hold-downs, to know yourself and understand the risks involved, plus have the right safety and rescue techniques, then this is for you!  There are some medical conditions that may prevent you joining the course and there is a medical statement that helps with the decision making process. 

Download the PADI Divers Medical Statement and Questionnaire here.

What kind of people usually join the surf survival course? 

All surfers from beginners to highly experienced big wave surfers and champion body boarders. The common theme is each student wishes to enjoy their time in the surf for longer and without the stress and anxiety that heavy surf or previous bad experiences can bring.

Do I need to be able to swim?

Yes, you must have competent swimming skills to join the course. Swimming skills are not taught during the course.

What do I need to do to pass the course?

The course has some basic requirements to meet to achieve certification. There is no need to train up for the course. The most important part of the course is how each student approaches the training and their conduct. Any student who is not deemed safe will not pass the course. If the performance requirements are not met during the course, they can always be attempted another time. The actual requirements are: 1. completion of the on-line learning modules and test (before the course), 2. 90-second static breath-hold, 3. 25m underwater swim, 4. Demonstration of buddy system and rescue techniques . These are all simply achieved if you follow the course training and practical exercises.

How cold is the water?

The swimming pool is around 27c. However, as we spend more than 2-hours in the water, it does become very cold. 5mm wetsuits are essential for the best performance and comfort. 

Surf Survival PADI Basic Freediver Certified Course 

  • Improved breathing
  • Enhanced relaxation
  • Stress and mind management
  • Breath-hold preparation and recovery breathing
  • Physics and physiology as applies to freediving
  • Breath-hold risks and safety techniques
  • Static and dynamic apnea pool practice
  • Buddy and rescue diver techniques
  • Simulated wave hold downs

Course General Schedule

Classroom Session (2 Hours)

The classroom session of the Surf Survival PADI Basic Freediver course consists of Instructor-led knowledge development for breathing awareness and function, relaxation methodology including guided meditation, equalisation theory and practice, wave hold-down stress management and fitness for breath-hold or apnea.

Confined Water Session (3 Hours)

The swimming pool is without a doubt the best place to develop your big wave hold-down surf survival techniques from a comfort and safety view. Here you’ll apply the breathing methods and recovery techniques to enhance your breath-hold. With each performance you’ll begin to analyse and understand your own personal map of your breath-hold, expanding your comfort zones and increasing your breath-hold. Freediving skills will include:

  • Warm up and correct breathing techniques prior to static/dynamic apnea
  • Correct recovery techniques for completing a breath-hold
  • Buddy skills for freediver support and relaxation during apnea
  • Simulations for a freediver that requires rescuing
  • Breath-hold in high stress and repeated holds with little recovery that simulate a series of heavy wave hold-downs

Surf Survival Big Wave PADI Basic Freediver Course near Melbourne

The Surf Survival PADI Basic Freediver course is held in Cheltenham near Melbourne. It’s a short 30-45-minute drive from the city outside peak times.


Course Details

Register on the Surf Survival Big Wave Surfing Breathhold PADI Basic Freediver course, bookings close one-week before the course date, so make sure you book in early.

Courses are only available on a limited schedule Autumn and Spring.

Getting There

By Car

From Melbourne you’ll need to drive around 30-45 minutes south to Cheltenham (allow much more time in peak hours). Once you’re at the Cheltenham venue, you should park in the rear car park and look for the WaterMaarq A-frame sign near the building entry. Make your way to the classroom.

Venue and Pool locations: Cheltenham VIC 3192

Things to Bring

Classroom session:
Notepad and pen if you would like to take notes. Drink bottle.

Pool Session:
Please bring your own swimwear, towel, mask, snorkel, fins (optional), wetsuit (4-5mm). If you don’t have any gear, hire equipment can be pre-ordered during the booking process (it is not available for hire on the day):

  • 5mm one-piece wetsuit
  • Mask, snorkel, fins

Course Schedule
Regular course times are Weekends 9:30am-2:30pm.

Course Duration
Up to 16 Hours. Allow as much time as you need for the on-line learning. Classroom session is up to 2-hours, and the pool training session up to 3 hours.

Basic Course: $399 (Includes PADI Basic Freediver certification fees)
Rental equipment: From $15

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Things to Know

  • It is recommended that you book at least one week in advance of your preferred date to book the best time and day for your course and avoid missing out
  • Courses are limited to 4-8 participants
  • Guests must be physically fit and have sufficient mobility as we swim in the public swimming pool and use a ladder to enter and exit the boat
  • Guests with back, neck, shoulder or heart conditions, those who are pregnant or who have injuries/conditions that may cause a risk to their health are advised to not to undertake the course training, or do so at their own risk
  • Please arrive 15 minutes before course commencement
  • Course times may be altered or cancelled if minimum numbers are not met and we will use all reasonable endeavours to provide at least 24 hours notice, and wherever possible much longer before


Other Courses: PADI Basic Freediver

Bookings and Cancellations

Bookings are essential as places are subject to availability. Courses generally operate monthly on Friday afternoons, and Saturdays during winter months.

Full payment for your course is required at the time of booking.  100% cancellation fee applies for no-show or cancellations within 24 hours of commencement, 50% for cancellations within 7 days of commencement.


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