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Freediving in Hawaii: Put your body to the test

Performance Freediving in Kona, Hawaii.

Courtney Platt


Hold your breath for three minutes and descend 20 metres on a single breath of air.


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The mammalian dive reflex is the mechanism aquatic mammals, such as seals and dolphins, use to dive underwater: Heart rates slow, blood is shunted to vital organs and the lungs fill with plasma on deep dives. The same effect, to a lesser degree, is known to exist in humans, a vestige from our earliest ancestors. Freedivers, or breath-hold divers, train to maximize this effect. The world record for a static breath hold is more than 11 minutes and the deepest unassisted dive on a single breath is 124 metres.

Head to Kona, Hawaii, in February and book on a three-day Basic Freediver course by Performance Freediving. You'll learn the physiology of the dive reflex and how to amplify it using stretching exercises, breathing techniques that build tolerance to low levels of oxygen and high levels of carbon dioxide, and safe diving practices. The reflex is something you can feel - your hands and feet become numb and tingly as blood is rerouted to your core. By the end of the course, most students can achieve breath holds of two to three minutes and dive to 15 to 20 metres. Hint: When you feel the urge to breathe, you actually still have enough oxygen, so don't.


Spearfishers and those who wish to bring out their inner dolphin.

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