Freediving in Cold Water: 6 Tips and Techniques

two people freediving in cold water
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The thought of diving in cold water doesn’t appeal to everyone. While some people simply don’t feel the cold, and therefore don’t mind any icy plunge, most find the experience quite challenging. Even among some of the world’s most avid and experienced divers, many choose to avoid cold waters.

There’s no denying that cold water dives are harder on the body and present additional safety considerations. However, freediving is all about challenging yourself and, even in the best conditions, requires careful planning and preparation.

That’s why, with dedication, training, and the right equipment, you can minimise the risks and maximise your time in the water.

Is freediving in cold water worth it?

If you require a minimum water temperature, when and where you can dive may be quite limited. But, with a little effort, you can develop the skills and techniques required to navigate most conditions. This will mean that, regardless of how warm the water is, you will be ready to get out and enjoy your next freediving adventure!

So don’t let winter seasons stop you from enjoying dives all year round!

The unique challenges of freediving in cold water

Beyond the normal freediving safety considerations, there are a few extra things you need to be conscious of when diving in cold water.

Most significantly, you need to be aware of heat loss and the impact it can have on your body. This starts the second you breach the surface and will continue the entire time you’re in the water. As such, the longer your session, the greater the risk of hypothermia and other life-threatening conditions.

You will also tire much quicker in cold water. This is because your body needs to use more energy to maintain its core temperature. As such, the quality of your technique and performance will decline much quicker in cold water than in warmer conditions.

6 vital techniques for withstanding the cold

When freediving in cold water, you need to understand the limitations the temperature creates and plan your sessions around them. In particular, it’s crucial you use the following 6 techniques to make sure your dive is safe, and most of all, enjoyable!

1. Choose the correct gear

The right cold water diving equipment will help you stay warmer for longer. In particular, a thicker, higher-quality wetsuit will help prevent heat loss, and having it correctly fitted should prevent pooling.

That said, thicker materials will also be more restrictive, so you need to balance warmth and movement. You want to be comfortable!

2. Structure your sessions strategically

Cold water speeds up the natural decline in your performance over time, so sessions usually need to be shorter.

To get the most from your time, start with the most challenging activities (deep dives, slow dives, etc.). Then, when your energy is starting to dip, switch to easier movements (finning drills, practising turns, etc.). This way you can still enjoy a complete dive, even if it is a shorter one.

3. Master the basics in warmer environments

Due to the time limitations and additional risks associated, your breath hold and other techniques must be spot on before you attempt diving in cold water. Dry and pool training are great ways to safely practice and perfect these important skills.

4. Add a cold shower to your daily routine

Regular exposure to cold water will help you adjust to the temperature and both physically and mentally prepare for your dives.

An easy way to do this at home is by taking a cold shower! To ease yourself into the habit, after your normal shower – simply turn your taps to cold and stay under the running water. Start by doing this for 30 seconds and slowly increase the amount of time as you become more comfortable.

5. Give your body sufficient fuel

The ideal pre-dive eating arrangements are highly personal and require a lot of time and experimentation to get right. They will also need to be adjusted to suit the conditions, with cold water dives requiring a higher caloric intake.

We recommend a simple combination of carbs, good fats, and sugar (e.g. oats with nuts and fruit or honey) at least 2.5 hours before diving.

If you’re someone who struggles to eat before diving, we strongly suggest you at least have a high-calorie snack around 30 minutes before so you have some stored-up energy.

6. Plan how you’ll warm up

While heat loss should stop when you get out of the water, cold conditions can still pose some risks. As such, you need to make sure you will be able to stabilise and increase your body temperature once you’re done diving.

Our hoodie towels are great for this, allowing you to get dry and warm up after a cold dive!

Book your freediving course today!

While the above tips should make diving in cold water a more pleasant experience, there is no substitute for proper training. Freediving Central offers courses catering to different experience levels – so, whether you’re a beginner, an intermediate, or an advanced diver, we have an option to suit you.

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