Freediving is still relatively unknown to the general public. Some immediately think of the film Le Grand Bleu, while others perceive freediving as an inaccessible, or even dangerous pursuit. But freediving is a fantastic underwater sport that is full of surprises. And that could be why it has experienced a genuine renaissance in the last five years! 

Take a plunge into the world of freediving, an unusual sport that combines relaxation and undersea exploration.

Dive into the history of freediving with subea 

There is no doubt that Man has practised freediving since the beginning of time, in particular for food, and then for commercial reasons. 

Freediving has been practised throughout the ages and all over the world: from collecting shellfish in prehistoric times, till the time of Homer, in the ninth century B.C., when people used to dive for marine sponges and the famous red coral. 

In the fourth century, several writers, including Aristotle and Plinius the Elder, described how divers in the Mediterranean would hyperventilate, then dive with stone weights. 

The famous naked Ama divers in Japan have been freediving for fish for more than two centuries, and sometimes to the age of 50 and more! In Polynesia, freedivers collect pearls, amongst other things…

And what about closer to home? This pursuit was revealed to the general public in 1988 by the film Le Grand Bleu, but it has remained marginal, due to the numerous accidents that have happened, in swimming pools in particular. 

But the sport continued to grow, and has been booming for the last five years. Today, it is recognised as a sport and a recreational pursuit in its own right and has become fashionable, thanks to diving clubs, greater standardisation and improvements in safety.

history freediving subea decathlon
discover freediving subea decathlon

Beginners: a logical extension of snorkelling 

It is quite simple to discover the joys of freediving. And snorkelling is the obvious starting point. Anyone aged between 6 and 77, or more, can discover the world of undersea observation and make their first dives with nothing more than a diving mask and a snorkel.

But some diving fins would be very helpful too. And a wetsuit will be more comfortable, if the water is cold and you stay in the water for a long time. Or a Lycra outfit, if the water is warm and you need protection against the sun! 

Once you are fully equipped and in the water, you will quickly start enjoying yourself. By accepting this invitation to discover a new world, you will be surprised by how you gradually start holding your breath as you swim on the surface. 

And you are already in apnoea, without even realising it! Who has never held their breath when swimming underwater? Now you can enjoy the pleasures of discovering a wonderful natural environment and of learning new ways of moving. 

Competitive freediving: thrills and progress guaranteed 

There are several types of apnoea freediving: static, dynamic and deep, which is in turn divided up into subcategories. The first two disciplines are possible in swimming pools, while the third is practised in diving pools or the natural environment. 

They are all quite accessible to the greatest number, right from the age of 8, and are a good way of making quick progress. You will quickly feel some new sensations, no matter how experienced you are, and you will be motivated by the progress you make.

The numerous advantages of apnoea freediving 

You can freedive wherever you can swim, in swimming pools, diving pools, the sea, lakes, quarries or rivers, which means that this sport is readily accessible, no matter where you live. The equipment is cheap, lightweight and easy to carry in just a small bag. 

Once in the water, you will benefit from the exercise and enjoy the spontaneous soothing of your senses (the quiet, the feeling being cut off from the world, etc.). freediving is good for your health and the morale, and is a sport for sharing. You can freedive with the family and when on your summer holidays. 

Not to mention the aquatic rambles in natural parks and marine parks! They are often free of charge and allow you to enjoy breathtaking scenery, whose rarity and fragility will be explained by your guide. Another option: diving in shipwrecks, which can also be very exciting. While always following the International Responsible freediver’s Charter, of course.~ 

To find out more about the benefits of freediving, check out our list of the Top 10.

discover freediving subea decathlon

Learning to freedive: safety reminder learning to freedive 

1.  You must always freedive in pairs, with someone capable of taking care of you, or at least preventing a second accident in the event of syncope, or of calling the emergency services. One stays on the surface, watching the other one as they freedive. Then you take turns. 

2. Tell someone on land that you are going freediving in the sea, and find out all about the spot where you plan to go freediving in advance (rocks, currents, etc.). 

3. Instead of trying to learn yourself, join a club that can give you freediving lessons. Learning and practising with professionals will protect your safety and guarantee that you will make progress. There’s sure to be a diving club somewhere nearby!

And what about all the technical vocabulary? Check out our freediving glossary of terms at the foot of the page. It will also teach you more about how your body works!

history freediving subea decathlon


If you want to make some new discoveries and are attracted by the underwater environment, then freediving could very well become your favourite sport. With more than 2,500 clubs and organisations throughout France, it could not be easier to get off to a good start.

And how did you discover freediving? What do you like about this sport? Any experiences you want to share with us? You can add a comment if you like.

Baptiste, Subea digital manager


Digital manager – padi rescue and level 1 ffessm

I'm Subea's Digital Manager. I'm passionate about spear fishing and free diving, and have been scuba diving for over fifteen years. I dive alone down to 60 meters.