Frequently Asked Questions
How is freediving different from snorkelling or skin diving?
Snorkeling is the casual act of putting on a mask and snorkel and looking below while floating. Snorkelers may not have any training and generally spend most of the time on the surface. Skin diving takes snorkeling a step further by adding short dives underwater. Skin divers may have training that teaches skills, such as efficient dives and snorkel-clearing. Freediving uses advanced breathing techniques and diving skills to increase depth and time underwater. Through training, freedivers learn conserve oxygen while breathholding while practicing different freediving disciplines, such as static apnea, dynamic apnea, free immersion and constant weight freedives.
How do I learn to freedive?
The PADI Freediver course contains three phases – knowledge development, a confined water sessions and open water sessions. During knowledge development you learn about how your body reacts to breathholding and how water pressure affects you as you dive down. You also learn about freediving equipment, important safety rules and buddy procedures.
In confined water, such as a swimming pool, you learn breathing techniques, then practice breathholds while floating (static apnea) and while swimming (dynamic apnea). You also practice basic rescue techniques and learn your role as a buddy.
During at least two open water sessions, you practice diving down while breathholding, either by pulling yourself along a line (free immersion) or duck diving head first while following a line (constant weight). You learn to gradually increase your depths by relaxing and enjoying each dive. Rescue practice is another key part of the open water sessions.
How much experience do I need to begin?
To enrol in a PADI Basic Freediver course you must be 12 years old or older. You need adequate swimming skills and need to be in good physical health. No prior experience with snorkeling, skin diving or freediving is required. At WaterMaarq, we’ve worked with hundreds of students of all levels of ability, even some have never swum before, others are fearful of the water. People from all kinds of backgrounds join us to learn to freedive, experienced spearfishers, performance mermaids, former elite swimmers, professional footballers, touring musicians, dedicated big wave surfers, marine biologists and passionate snorkellers. And many scuba divers!
Where should I start?
The best place to begin is the PADI Freediver Basic course, this sets you up with the foundation skills to accelerate your development. If you prefer, contact us about private lessons, we can certainly work with you to find the best way to progress your freediving.
I enjoy casual freediving but I'm not interested in intense, competitive freediving. What can the PADI Freediver program offer me?
Like many people, you enjoy the freedom of diving without a scuba kit, and probably manage to dive a bit longer and deeper than a casual snorkeler. You’ll find that the formal training you receive in a PADI Freediver course will fine-tune and improve the skills you already have. It’s a lot of fun and easily completed! The best place to begin is the PADI Freediver Basic course, this sets you up with the foundation skills to accelerate your development into PADI Freediver.
If you decide to increase your personal freediver skills to the PADI Advanced Freediver or Master Freediver level, you can become a PADI Freediver Instructor and teach PADI Basic Freediver and Freediver courses.
How long does it take to get certified?
The PADI Freediver course is flexible and performance based, which means that your WaterMaarq Freediver Instructor can offer a wide variety of schedules, organised according to how fast you progress.
Knowledge development is handled through independent study with the PADI Freediver TouchTM – an interactive tablet based app. You pace yourself as you work through each topic, then complete an overall Knowledge Review, then an Exam.
There are at least three water sessions that will likely be scheduled on separate days. So, your training may take two to three days or longer. The recommended course duration is 15 hours.
During confined and open water sessions, your PADI Freediver Instructor will focus on helping you become a confident and comfortable freediver, not on how long it takes. You earn your certification based on demonstrating you know what you need to know and can do what you need to do. This means that you progress at your own pace – faster or slower depending upon the time you need – to become a competent freediver.
What are the requirements for learning to freedive?
The minimum age is 15 years old for the PADI Freediver course and 12 years old for the PADI Basic Freediver certification. PADI Basic Freediver is a subset program on the PADI Freediver course that only includes knowledge development and a confined water session.
All student divers complete a medical history form that asks about medical conditions that could be a problem while freediving. If none of these apply, sign the form and you’re ready to start. If any of these apply to you, your doctor must, as a safety precaution, assess the condition as it relates to freediving and sign a medical form that confirms you’re fit to dive. In some areas, local laws require all students to consult with a physician before entering the course. Download the PADI Freediver Medical History Form.
Your PADI Freediver Instructor will have you demonstrate basic water skills to be sure you’re comfortable in the water. This is a 200-metre/yard swim or 300-metre/yard swim using a mask, fins and snorkel without stopping. There is no time limit for this, and you may use any swimming strokes you want.
Any individual who can meet the performance requirements of the course qualifies for certification. There are many adaptive techniques that allow individuals with physical challenges to meet these requirements.
What are the different PADI Freediver certification levels?
PADI Freediver course (including Freediver Basic) – Develops the knowledge and skills for basic static apnea, dynamic apnea, free immersion and constant weight freediving from 10-16 metres/30-55 feet. When completing open water training is not feasible or desirable, students complete just the knowledge and confined water skill portion of the PADI Freediver course (6 metres/20 feet maximum) to earn the PADI Basic Freediver rating.
PADI Advanced Freediver course – Expands knowledge and skills, and with further development in static apnea, dynamic apnea, free immersion and constant weight freediving from 16-24 metres/55-80 feet.
PADI Master Freediver course – Continues knowledge and skill development with further development in static apnea, dynamic apnea, free immersion and constant weight freediving from 24-40 metres/80-130 feet.
How much do freediving lessons cost?
Compared with other popular adventure sports and outdoor activities, learning to freedive isn’t expensive. For example, you can expect to pay about the same as you would for:
- a full day of surfing lessons.
- a weekend of rock climbing lessons.
- a weekend of kayaking lessons.
- a weekend of fly-fishing lessons.
- about three hours of private golf lessons.
- about three hours of private water skiing lessons.
- one amazing night out!
For specific costs, please refer to our bookings page or ask us for further details on your personalised experience programme. All PADI Freediver Centres, along with scuba Dive Centres and Resorts are independently owned and operated, and prices can vary depending on location, class size and other factors.
What gear will I need to freedive?
Choosing and using your freediving gear is part of the fun. WaterMaarq will help you find the right mask, snorkel and fins that are specifically designed for freediving. Wearing your own freediving wet suit and weight system is always a nice way to dive, however if you don’t have everything you need, feel welcome to rent our high-end freediving equipment available.
In southern Australian temperate waters, we recommend a two-piece 5mm full freediving wetsuit including hood, gloves and booties. During the peak of summer in January and February you may be comfortable in a 3.5mm freediving wetsuit.
Indicative Water Temperatures (Victoria)
How do I find the best freediving gear?
There is no “best gear,” but there is the best gear for you. Talk to us at WaterMaarq and we’ll help you find equipment that best matches your preferences, fit and budget.
Where is the best place to get certified?
Right here in southern Australia! Across Victoria you are spoilt with marine life that is not found anywhere else on earth. WaterMaarq runs a full in-house charter service, the only one of its type dedicated to freediving and snorkelling. We pioneered professional freediving training and tours to the freshwater sinkholes of South Australia too!
As a PADI Freediver Centre we adhere to the same training standards, so no matter where you are there’s likely a PADI Freediver Instructor ready to teach you. Don’t let us sway you where the best place for you is, please see our customer reviews on TripAdvisor.
What's the best freediving certification or school?
The best freediving certification system or school is the one that serves your freediving objectives in the safest way, taking into account your history and experience, your skills and knowledge and the time and resources you have available. At WaterMaarq, we only run small group courses, less than 8x participants, often only 4x. We do this to ensure you receive a personalised experience, one that is tailored to your individual needs and objectives. Everyone has a unique dream of freediving, we want you to achieve it!
How do I book a course or excursion?
It’s easy! All our services can be booked on-line with instant confirmation. Please visit your preferred experience via our home page and click through to view the calendar and book your time and day. It takes just a moment!
When can I begin studying the course theory via PADI Freediver Touch?
Once your booking has been received and payment confirmed, you will be sent an email that confirms your registration as a PADI Freediver Touch student. By following the steps, you’ll be able to access the self-paced learning content right away. The Freediver Touch provides access to all levels of learning too, from Basic to Master, so you can work through as much as you like anywhere anytime. It’s really really good content too, so you’ll be ready to apply your new knowledge on your first practical session.
My ears hurt when I go to the bottom of a swimming pool or when I dive down when snorkelling. Will that stop me from becoming a freediver?
No, assuming you have no irregularities in your ears and sinuses. The discomfort is the normal effect of water pressure pressing in on your ear drums. Fortunately, our bodies are designed to adjust for pressure changes in our ears – you just need to learn how. If you have no difficulties adjusting to air pressure during flying, you’ll probably experience no problem learning to adjust to water pressure while freediving. We’re here to help you take it easy and discover the best way for you.
Will a history of ear troubles, diabetes, asthma, allergies, or smoking mean I can't go freediving?
Not necessarily. Any condition that affects the ears, sinuses, respiratory or heart function, or may alter consciousness is a concern, but only a doctor can assess a person’s individual risk. Doctors can consult with the Divers Alert Network (DAN) as necessary when assessing fitness to dive. Download the PADI Freediver Medical History Form to take to your doctor.
What are the most common injuries or sicknesses associated with freediving?
Sunburn, seasickness and dehydration, all of which are preventable, are the most common problems freedivers face. Injuries caused by not equalising ears do occur, but these can be avoided by using proper technique and returning to the surface if your ears are not equalising easily.
I'm currently certified as a freediver through another organisation, how can I become a PADI Freediver?
As a freediver certified through another training organisation, you can enrol in the next higher level in the PADI Freediver system after a skills and knowledge assessment by a PADI Freediver Instructor. The level you can enrol into depends on your current certification. Check with your WaterMaarq instructor for details.
Can anyone join a WaterMaarq freediving, snorkelling or scenic excursion?
Our excursions are designed to cater to all levels of marine enthusiasts.
Scenic tours are open to everyone as they are boat excursions that keep you above the water. Perfect for sightseeing, research, wildlife watching and photography.
Snorkelling and Freediving Excursions are for those who are keen to get wet! Snorkelers may join these tours and enjoy a full in-water experience discovering the bay and swimming with seals. Snorkelers may not wear weightbelts unless certified as Snorkel Divers. Freedivers enrolled in a WaterMaarq course or certified Freedivers may also join these excursions.
Freediving Excursions are for certified freedivers or freedivers enrolled in a WaterMaarq course. Evidence of recognised freediving certification must be provided to attend these tours.
What's the difference between learning to freedive with a professional instructor compared to a professional freediver?
Typically, learning with a professional athlete you will be taught the techniques that worked for them, their personal circumstances and own objectives.
Learning to freedive with a professional instructor, it’s like having your own personal coach or trainer. The instructor works with you to understand your needs, objectives and current capabilities to assess the gaps between where you are and where you want to be as a freediver. The professional instructor then tailors your experience based upon your objectives and the optimal training path identified for you.