Freediving Schools and Associations

World-Recognized Freediving Certification Organizations

Freediving, like any other sport, requires training and dedication to master. Freediving associations offer organized, safe and professional courses to teach students proper freediving techniques and to help them reduce the risks of freediving. Always seek training from an instructor certified by a recognized freediving agency. A variety of training agencies exist to provide divers with high-quality training, including AIDA, SSI and FII. Each of these agencies is recognized worldwide.

AIDA International was founded in 1992 and is the global authority for competitive freediving. This association organizes the most important international freediving competitions and verifies and records all freediving records. AIDA's goals include further research and development of freediving techniques and science, and the safe and effective training of recreational freedivers. Many of the sports greatest freedivers belong to AIDA, including William Trubridge and Guillaume Nery.

AIDA organizes freediving courses into four levels. Each level teaches the diver progressively more advanced skills, and has specific requirements to achieve certification. The levels focus on three disciplines of freediving: dynamic, static, and constant weight. Here are the certification requirements for each level.

• AIDA 1-Star Freediver Certification Requirements:
• Static Freediving: At least one 1-minute, 15-second breath hold
• Dynamic Freediving: At least one 80-foot (25-meter) horizontal swim
• Constant Weight Freediving: At least one 25-foot (8-meter) vertical dive
• AIDA 2-Star Freediver Certification Requirements:
• Static Freediving: At least one 2-minute breath hold
• Dynamic Freediving: At least one 120-foot (40-meter) horizontal swim
• Constant Weight Freediving: At least one 50-foot (15-meter) vertical dive
• AIDA 3-Star Freediver Certification Requirements:
• Static Freediving: At least one 2-minute, 45-second breath hold
• Dynamic Freediving: At least one 180-foot (55-meter) horizontal swim
• Constant Weight Freediving: At least one 80-foot (24-meter) vertical dive
• AIDA 4-Star Freediver Certification Requirements:
• Static Freediving: At least one 3-minute, 30-second breath hold
• Dynamic Freediving: At least one 230-foot (70-meter) horizontal swim
• Constant Weight Freediving: At least one 105-foot (32-meter) vertical dive
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SSI is a world-recognized scuba diving association that began training freedivers a few years ago. The training agency became successful in the scuba diving industry by creating quality course materials and employing progressive educational systems. All SSI courses provide the student with training manuals and student videos, and are organized to be both safe and fun. SSI is rapidly becoming a leader in freediving education.

SSI offers four progressive freediving courses, as well as additional freediving specialty courses. Unlike AIDA, SSI lists objectives for each freediving level based on depth (and requires basic water skills and rescue skills for each level), but does not list static and dynamic apnea requirements. Here is a list of SSI's four main freediving courses and their constant weight freediving (depth) objectives:

• SSI Basic Freediver:
A simple introduction to freediving including finning and ear equalization techniques; no specific certification requirements.
• SSI Freediver Level 1:
Constant weight freediving objective: Up to 60-foot (20-meter) vertical dives
• SSI Freediver Level 2:
Constant weight freediving objective: Up to 90-foot (30-meter) vertical dives
• SSI Freediver Level 3:
Constant weight freediving objective: Up to 120-foot (40-meter) vertical dives
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FII is the leader of freediving education in the United States. The association was created by freediving champion Martin Stepanek. In comparison with other freediving organizations, FII's teaching philosophy is based less on performance than on teaching freediving students the techniques and knowledge needed to feel comfortable underwater.

FII Freediving Courses:

• FII Freediving Level 1:
The FII Level 1 course focuses on basic freediving techniques and knowledge. Students are not required to achieve a depth, dive time or distance for certification. To earn certification, students must pass a test based on skills and knowledge, including breathing techniques, proper position, finning, and equalization.
• FII Freediving Level 2:
The FII Level 2 course teaches students about freediving problem management and safety. Students are not required to freedive to a specific depth, achieve an underwater distance, or stay underwater for any specific length of time. Instead, they must pass examinations based the theory and skills taught in the course.
• FII Freediving Level 3:
The FII Level 3 course focuses on upper-level freediving techniques, including deep water equalization, free falling, breathing and stretching. Again, students do not need to acheive any specific freediving goals to pass the course, but must demonstrate proficiency in the techniques and theory presented.
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Other Reputable Freediving Associations

Many other reputable freediving certification agencies exist such as:

PFI (Performance Freediving International) - Primarily based in California and Florida
CMAS (World Underwater Federation) - The oldest freediving training organization
IANTD (International Association of Nitrox and Technical Divers) - A popular scuba training organization which is developing freediving courses
Apnea Total - Primarily located in Thailand, the Apnea Academy was founded by freediver Umberto Pelizzari.

As of March 2013, there are still no freediving courses offered by PADI (Professional Association of Dive Instructors), which is perhaps the most popular scuba training association in the world. This may change in the future.

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The Take-Home Message About Freediving Associations & Schools

A variety of reputable, safe freediving schools exist. When enrolling in a freediving course, be sure to choose an instructor who represents a recognized training association and meets your goals.

Keep Reading: 10 Tips for Freediving Planning | Browse all freediving articles >>

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Borde, Julien, AIDA Freediving Instructor. "Freediving Schools and Associations." ThoughtCo, Mar. 13, 2016, thoughtco.com/freediving-schools-and-associations-2962862. Borde, Julien, AIDA Freediving Instructor. (2016, March 13). Freediving Schools and Associations. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/freediving-schools-and-associations-2962862 Borde, Julien, AIDA Freediving Instructor. "Freediving Schools and Associations." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/freediving-schools-and-associations-2962862 (accessed November 19, 2017).