Everybody has their favourite books, and within the freediving genre you will find various publications that freedivers turn to again and again for information, motivation or simply the chance to connect with a kindred spirit who lives for being underwater. But which are the best freediving books on the market today?
It is fair to say I have read A LOT of freediving books, but whittling it down to what I consider to be the five best freediving books out there was no mean feat!
So (in no particular order), whether you are just starting on your diving adventure or have been an established freediver for years, these are the books I believe are must-haves for your coffee table or bookshelf.
1. The Personal Freediving Book
Emma Farrell – One Breath
You may be wondering why I would add my own book into my ‘best freediving books’ list, but for me it really is a book that I hold dear to my heart for so many reasons.
Not only is it filled with beautiful photos taken by Belgian world champion Frederic Buyle on breath hold, but it is written from the heart as a memoir and a love letter to freediving.
It charts my experiences as a freediver starting out in the UK when freediving in the UK really wasn’t that well known and the facilities were pretty non-existent, to becoming the professional teacher and freediving figure I am today. It covers all of the challenges and barriers I encountered and subsequently overcame, my first freediving competition, and describes some of the most challenging experiences I have had.
It’s also a book that covers the history of freediving, from Aquatic apes to modern day freedivers and how to breathe correctly for freediving.
The book is a celebration in words and pictures of what makes freediving so special, the sometimes intangible and indescribable sensations and feelings that arise when we are freediving, and the connection we have to our watery world.
It is a book that takes us on a spiritual journey to the heart of freediving, as well as being a the personal journey of one freediver who embraced the sport and made it a way of life.
Who would like this book? Anyone who wants to be inspired to achieve what they were told was not possible.
2. The Science Freediving Book
James Nestor – Deep
Or, to give its full title, Deep: Freediving, Renegade Science, and What the Ocean Tells Us About Ourselves. This book is a personal favourite and one I will happily read over and over.
Shortlisted for the PEN/ESPN award for literary sports writing along with numerous other honours and ‘best of’ lists, journalist and author’s Nestor’s work is excellent for beginners and a compelling blend of reportage, personal journey and science.
Stunned when he witnessed divers descend three hundred metres during a competition without any breathing apparatus, he sets out on a voyage of discovery into the world of freediving, a sport he didn’t even know existed.
Deep deserves the praise lavished on it: it’s a wonderful, enlightening read and tells how Nestor’s life was
changed with this meeting. There’s something for everyone here, diver or not – and it shows us how little we know of our world, with most of it hidden, unmapped, beneath the surface of our oceans.
Who would like this book? Anyone who wants to discover the science behind the sport of freediving and how one person made it a personal journey to uncover it’s secrets
3. The History Freediving Book
Tim Ecott – Neutral Buoyancy
A book I regularly recommend to all freedivers and believe it is the go-to book everyone should have.
In a little over three hundred pages, diver and journalist Tim Ecott gives us a history of underwater exploration and the growth of diving as we know it, interspersed with plenty of warm, often witty personal anecdotes and stories, making Neutral Buoyancy a captivating, thoroughly enjoyable read.
This is no dry science text, but a fascinating look at how human beings have managed to conquer the ocean to a certain degree – or depth, if you must – and Ecott manages to cram in everything from ancient Greek sponge divers to the heroics of British Army frogmen who cleared submerged channels for the Normandy landings of 1944.
Ecott’s writing is conversational and easy to digest, making Neutral Buoyancy a book that is easy to pick up but very hard to put down.
Who would like this book? Anyone who wants to discover the history of freediving and how it has shaped modern freediving into what it is today.
4. The Complete Freediving Book
Umberto Pelizzari – Manual of Freediving
Who wouldn’t want to have a book from living legend Umberto Pelizzari?!
Widely considered to be the greatest freediver of his generation, if not of all time, Umberto Pelizzari has pretty much seen and done it all and been honoured with most of the accolades and awards it is possible to receive. So, when
the man puts his name to a book simply titled Manual of Freediving you know you just have to read it.
Then read it again,
Manual of Freediving (with its subtitle, Underwater on a Single Breath) was co-authored by freedive instructor trainer and Italian National freedive team director Stefano Tovaglieri, and understandably is as comprehensive as it comes – the book is packed with information, exercises and techniques covering everything from breathing, anatomy and physiology to equalisation, relaxation and diet, and is designed to help you master the art of freediving.
To say Pelizzari’s book is a must-have is something of an understatement: freedivers often refer to it as their bible.
Who would like this book? Anyone who wants to have a freediving encyclopaedia of anything and everything freediving
5. The Classic Freediving Book
Jacques Mayol – Homo Delphinus
If you want to go classic, then Mayol’s book is a coffee table special: one that any self-respecting freediver should have on full view for people to pick up and flick through.
Jacques Mayol is considered to be the father of modern freediving, and his life was devoted to the ocean and pushing the human body to its limits – a true ground-breaker, he was the first diver to descend to one hundred metres, held numerous world records, and was the inspiration for the Luc Besson film The Big Blue.
Homo Delphinus: The Dolphin Within Man is the beautiful sibling to Pelizzari’s Manual of Freediving: the latter is rich trove of teaching and information while the former is a gorgeously presented collection of photographs and writing spanning Mayol’s life and his love for the water, sparked by his interactions with a dolphin at a Miami aquarium in the 1950s.
Mayol himself posited that humans were of aquatic origin and could one day ‘awaken’ long forgotten dolphin-like abilities in order to dive deeper and for longer; his predictions were to come true, with the current record of 253 metres for a dive, and over eleven minutes for Static Apnea.
Who would like this book? Anyone who wants to learn more about the father of modern freediving and how his ground breaking achievements continue to inspire, even today
So now you know my choices, what are your top five? Difficult, isn’t it?!!
Learn to freedive with Go Freediving
Go Freediving is the longest established, most experienced and friendliest freediving course provider in the UK, led by world class freediving instructor trainer Emma Farrell, and her team of personally trained instructors. No other course provider has such a good instructor to student ratio, safety record and personal touch.
If you want to find out what happens on a freediving course – whether you’re a beginner dipping your toes into the world of freediving, a seasoned pro looking to turn professional, or simply a freediver of any level who wants the best freediving holiday in the world, we’re here for you!
Also check out our online guide, The Beginners Guide to Freediving by clicking here!
Keep in touch with everything Freediving
Subscribe to our mailing list for weekly newsletters with exclusive articles, news, films, offers and more!
And check out You Tube!