Welcome to Part Sixteen of The Beginner’s Guide to Freediving, the best place to start your freediving journey. If you’re planning to start freediving, this chapter explores the risks associated with freediving and important considerations for your risk assessment and dive plan.
Dealing with Risks Associated with Freediving
Having discussed the risks of black outs and hypoxic fits, this article will cover other risks associated with freediving. They can be divided into risks associated with your body, your diving environment, Scuba diving, water pressure and your buddy. We will look at each in turn and then consider how to create a risk assessment and dive plan.
Risks associated with freediving – Personal Risks
Personal risks associated with freediving include dehydration, eating too little (or too much) or the wrong foods prior to a dive, smoking, recreational drugs, exercise, tiredness, stress, personal hygiene and the use of medication. An awareness of how all of these can affect your freediving can help ensure your dive sessions are as safe and enjoyable as possible.
Risks associated with freediving – Dehydration – Freedivers can easily become dehydrated through a combination of three factors: Immersion diuresis, sweating in a wetsuit and breathing out through the mouth. Immersion diuresis, part of the mammalian dive reflex, causes you to excrete more fluids in the form of urine than you are usually taking in orally. Our exhalations also include water vapor and constant breathing in and out through the mouth can cause a lot of water to be lost from the body. And if you are warm in your wetsuit then you can also lose fluids through perspiration. The result of these three factors means that a freediver can easily become dehydrated. Because of the increased urination, many freedivers feel that they must be well hydrated, though this is often not the case and I have witnessed countless divers exiting the water after a long session with headaches and bad breath caused by dehydration. A 1% decrease in hydration can cause a 10% decrease in performance. Dehydration also causes the blood to become thicker, making the heart work harder to pump blood around the body which uses up more oxygen, and dulls mental processes. It is important to be well hydrated prior to a dive, keep drinking small amounts during the dive and then make sure afterwards you keep drinking fluids. Sports drinks can be useful and it is easy to make you own by adding some salt to some diluted fruit juice.