One Breath: Learning To Freedive In Utila, Honduras


I have always considered myself a big fan of oxygen, air and breathing in general – thus it was with some hesitation that I signed up for a Freediving course – the guiding principle of which is to hold your breath for an extended period whilst swimming deep underwater (for the world record holder – 100 metres plus on a single breath, no fins). But whilst on the Honduran Island of Utila the temptation to do a beginner class was just too good to pass up.

Now my knowledge of Freediving was a little light, mostly limited to a few YouTube videos I had watched of freedivers going to insane depths. The only other knowledge I had at hand before turning up was an attempt the night before the course to hold my breath as long as possible. From which I learnt two things 1. I couldn’t hold my breath for very long and 2. It hurt. I had thus planted the seed in mind that the next two days would involve significant amounts of breathlessness and possibly pain. To reassure me – Kate told me it was ‘just swimming’.


The world of ridiculously large fins, welcome to Freediving

The Theory

The course began with a couple of hours theory before heading out into the water. We  learnt about the all important breath-up (how to lower your heart-rate and up your oxygen intake before descending) and some other pretty important safety pointers (always dive with a buddy etc). Tex, the instructor, left us with these words

               quotes1       I am not going to test how long you can hold your breath for, when you are there underwater  – you will hold your breath       Right-quotation-mark

Out In The Water

We then headed out in the water where I had my second and final “I might be in over my head” experience.  The descent line we were to initially learn on looked a litte deep and far away, extending 17m underwater. To add to this, those all important  breathing techniques we had learned were noticeably more difficult with your face underwater, a snorkel in your mouth and waves crashing about. As one little extra, there were Masters Freediving students in the water as well, from the surface they were visible moving at a snails pace deep underwater on their own descent line, and then at a snails pace back up again (surely you need to breath by now?).  Luckily my self doubt only lasted 20 seconds and then it was on!


On the way down

We spent the next couple of hours extending the depth of our dives. Mastering the duck dive, equalising our ears, relaxing our bodies and moving efficiently underwater, learning to keep our heads straight; looking neither at the bottom or again at the surface – all of the good stuff. In a pretty short time 17m didn’t seem so far down. Rather we were getting to the bottom of the line and being able to appreciate a little bottom time, just enough to enjoy the view of the 30m shipwreck we had been diving over. On the second day we extended this to 24m. And the pain of breathlessness I was worried about, it never really came.  I certainly got out of breath – up to and including  involuntary contractions of my stomach (normal) – but the need to breath seems reduced underwater and thanks to the theory I knew I was always well within the safety margins.

So What Was The Highlight?

Freediving down 20m to swim through the top-deck of the shipwreck Halliburton. This was my final dive of  the 2 day course. I was feeling a bit out of breath by the time I got down level with the wreck, swimming through the overhead environment meant putting off the trip back to the surface a little longer, but the passage through looked too enticing.  My body was pulsing after the dive, energy rushed through my muscles and the oxygen at the surface felt o-so-sweet. But altogether it was a fantastic course.

Alright, enough chitter chatter – let’s finish with a couple more pics!


Investigating the shipwreck Halliburton



Safety diver comes down to check up on things



Freedivers be posing

Quick Info – Apnea Total Freediving Course

Course Page:
Price: US$170
Duration: 2 days
Details: Any gear you need will be provided.


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1 Response

  1. March 27, 2014

    […] Learning To Freedive In Utila, Honduras […]

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