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Tue30Mar2010

FII Level 1 Freediving Course

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Bob Diaz | SpearViews | March 30, 2010 | Print
review, FII, freediving
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Over the weekend of March 27th & 28th I took the Level 1 Freediving course offered by FII (Freediving Instructors International) at their Headquarters in Pompano Beach FL. FII was started by Martin Stepanek, a multiple time freediving world record holder. The Level 1 curriculum is taught over a 2 day course. The first day is classroom and pool based and spans almost 9 hours. This course is designed for beginning freedivers and is supposed to get novice divers to a depth of 66 feet.

The majority of the first day is spent in class learning about:

  • safety
  • equipment
  • safety
  • techniques
  • safety
  • physiology
  • safety (Did I happen to mention that they stress safety in this course?)

I am by no means a professional freediver, but I do consider myself far from a novice. My personal best dives have taken me beyond the 60 foot mark, but I wanted to see if the class would teach me techniques and give me knowledge about freediving that I did not currently possess so that I can improve my freediving and spearfishing skills. We were fortunate to not only have our 2 instructors for our class, but to also have 2 of the students in our class be "Instructors in Training". They had both taken Level 1 and Level 2 and were currently in the middle of their curriculum to become Level 1 instructors.

The material covered was very detailed and the class moves along at a fairly brisk pace, although the instructors are tremendously flexible about spending as much time as necessary on any part of the material that may need extra emphasis. The specifics you learn about breathing techniques and the emphasis that needs to be placed on proper breathing in order take advantage of the tools everyone already has in themselves are invaluable. Even though I had a working knowledge of many of the items they covered, I still learned a lot about how to improve my practice and technique to make it to the next level.

The one downer about the weekend was that our practical dive had to be postponed because of the weather (E20-25 Winds and probably 5-7 foot seas) but we were able to finish all the static apnea exercises in the pool on Saturday and all the theory (including some extra classroom time on Sunday focusing on any subject the class desired because our dive was postponed). We are now waiting to hear when our open water dive will be rescheduled so we can get our certification cards and membership into FII.

I could go on for days about the content, but suffice it to say that I definitely learned and was reminded about things that we both need to know and be reminded of. Freediving and spearfishing are both terribly complicated and dangerous sports and you occasionally get comfortable with the lack of proper regimen (as my friends and I had), which can and often does lead to catastrophic results. The safety techniques you learn in this course can (and ultimately will) save someone's life (possibly yours).

All in all, the course is very reasonably priced compared to other similar courses and I walked away a better and safer diver for it. Even though you can get some of the content from someone that has taken the course, if you're serious about freediving or spearfishing, you owe it to yourself to take one of these courses. I would recommend this course to any of my friends that are interested. The instructors are friendly and knowledgeable, and not to mention that the benefits of membership in FII after completing even this one course are compelling reasons to consider taking the course. You become (if you choose) a member in a network of experienced divers and have access to not only their experience and knowledge, but their activities as well.

You can contact FII through their website (http://www.freedivinginstructors.com) and check out their schedule of upcoming course dates. Who knows, maybe I will be on your qualifying dive trip too! Oh yeah, you can check out some pics from the static apnea exercises in the pool here.

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