Perhaps you’re a pro scuba diver who is hoping to break a freediving world record, or is simply interested in seeing what it’s like to go tank-less.

Or an avid swimmer looking to explore the diving scene and experience something new.

Or maybe you’re a diver who has never heard of freediving and just wants to learn more.

Whichever way you may swing, and whatever your experience is with diving, the answer is the same:

Deja Blue might be right for you.

What Is Deja Blue?

When it comes to performance freediving, the big name is Performance Freediving International (PFI) and their big camp and competition is Deja Blue, sometimes called the “Ironman of freediving.”

Since 2010, Deja Blue has been a way for divers interested in freediving as well as freediving experts to come together to learn, compete, train, and form lifelong friendships. What’s not to love?

Deja Blue is held at Grand Cayman Island and is flexible, able to last one, two, or three weeks. Depending on what you want to get out of the program and what package you want to sign up for.

Some divers join the camp to train away from prying eyes and the pressure of competition. While others just want to see what they can do. And even kids are welcome to train and compete!

2 men freediving

For those looking to train, the first two weeks are for you.

Travel to Coconut Bay, Grand Cayman, and enjoy five depth sessions per week. In addition to unlimited static pool sessions and two dynamic apnea sessions.

Plus, there are video review sessions every day for those who want to see their dives recorded, get advice from instructors, and perfect their technique.

For those looking to break some world records, see week three: competition week.

Over the course of seven days, you can compete in six different disciplines (constant weight, free immersion, constant no-fins, static apnea, dynamic apnea, and dynamic apnea without fins), and the event draws freediving world-record holders from all over the world.

It’s a competition where records get broken. The contest also has several levels of safety, including medics, evacuation boats, and safety freedivers and scuba divers that stick by your side throughout, and all athletes must follow international freediving safety guidelines.

But don’t worry: You don’t have to compete unless you want to. Deja Blue is just as much about the training camp portion as it is the competition.

Although if you do feel empowered to do both, that’s something you can do, too. Just make sure you check the price tag first.

Regardless of what you choose, PFI purports that they strive to make the camp focused most on diving, and offers amenities, transportation, and guidance in an attempt to make your trip as comfortable and easy as possible. In their own words: “Your only job is to show up and focus on your dives.”

The ninth annual Deja Blue was April 21 to May 13, 2018, so if you’re looking to get in on the action, you’ll have to wait until 2019, when Deja Blue 10 will most likely hit the stage.

So, What Is Freediving, and Why Should You Try It?

In case you aren’t already in with the freediving cool kids, here are the facts: You’ve probably already freedived before.

If you were ever one of those kids determined to touch the bottom of the pool, you’ve freedived.

Or you’ve ever ducked under an ocean wave and pushed yourself through the current with both cheeks full of air, you’ve freedived.

If you’ve ever leapt into the water and kicked off the sandy bed below to break the surface, gasping, you’ve freedived.

To quote AIDA, the International Association for the Development of Apnea, “The true appeal of freediving is in the silence and calm it brings to people’s hectic lives.”

man freediving

To put it simply: Freediving is freeing.

For those who would prefer a more technical definition: Freediving, also known as “breath-hold diving,” is a style of diving that does not include a breathing apparatus.

While you can still wear flippers, a wetsuit, and a mask, you’ll hit the water without a breathing tank and experience diving within the limits of your body.

While some professional freedivers can hold their breath while diving as far as 200 meters deep, and others still can hold their breath for as long as 11 minutes.

Don’t feel nervous that you’ll be expected to do the same on your first go. While there is a competitive side to freediving, you can also go to something like Deja Blue to learn.

Forms of Freediving

Freediving comes in many forms, such as Constant Weight Freediving, which is when the diver descends and ascends without any extra assistance besides what they have on their body.

Free Immersion Freediving is which when a diver pulls themselves along a rope and doesn’t wear fins. This second method is often used for beginners to get used to freediving.

There are also a few other forms of freediving that primarily are used to help freedivers train. Static Apnea and Dynamic Apnea, which usually take place in a pool and involve simple breath-holding and swimming long distances without coming up for air, respectively.

These help freedivers learn where their physical limits are—or rather, how to continue past them.

But the appeal of freediving is not simply about who can hold their breath the longest. The most compelling thing about freediving is best explained through the words of passionate freedivers.

They talk of the thrill of sinking deeper once you hit the 15-meter-or-so point. And the feeling of your first breath after breaking the surface, post-dive. Some have freedived with humpback whales, and seen ancient, sunken cities.

Freediver and filmmaker Martina Amati puts it best: “It is the most positive activity I do in my life and it feels so odd that people regard it as this extreme sport … It is like learning to walk in a new world, you feel … nothing else matters.”

How Safe Is Freediving, and What Are the Risks?

The deeper you go, the more the pressure you experience and the less oxygen you have available in your blood stream.

When freediving first started getting popular, physiologists were not convinced that people would be able to survive diving deeper than 40 meters. But divers proved them wrong, and for reasons that are still not totally clear to scientists.

It’s clear that the body is resistant to breath holding past a certain amount.

Your body begins to shake and do everything in its power to convince you to come up for air, but that does not mean you cannot hold your breath for longer when underwater.

Enduring this period of resistance is what freedivers must do in order to perform feats such as holding their breath for longer than a couple minutes underwater.

man in freediving

But it can also be dangerous, especially if pushed too far.

It sounds scary, and the risk of body and brain damage from lack of oxygen can be very real and can result in death.

But freedivers still maintain that their sport is safe, and in many ways, this is statistically true.

With proper training and a buddy at your side, you can enjoy freediving without fear of losing motor control (a result of hypoxia, or oxygen deficiency in the brain) or black outs. These are risks to consider if freediving is performed unsafely or extremely.

Many properly trained freedivers say they’ve never experienced either, despite going on numerous dives, and believe that freediving can be quite safe as long as you prioritize your safety and learn from professionals.

That’s what makes training camps like Deja Blue an appealing option for those interested in freediving. Learning with trained professionals and exploring freediving through an educational context promotes a focus on safety, taking some of the uncertainty out of the activity.

How to Get Involved

Freediving lies across a spectrum of difficulty, and Deja Blue strives to encompass it. Experienced freedivers can compete to win prizes and break world records, just as newbie freedivers can learn the ropes and observe some of the best.

Even spectators to the competition portion of Deja Blue are welcome, and can purchase tickets to watch the contest by emailing the team at Performance Freediving.

For those looking to explore freediving from any angle or level of experience, Deja Blue might be a good place to start.

Comprehensive training is not something that a wannabe freediver can skip if they want to dive safely, especially considering the risks of improper freediving.

And while Deja Blue is not the only freediving competition out there, it is well-known for good reason.

With a healthy mix of safety precautions, a variety of competition disciplines, and an emphasis on having fun, Deja Blue seems to be a great resource for the eager freediver, regardless of experience.

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