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Book Review: Freediving — The Book of Freediving

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About the authors:

Kimmo Lahtinen, AIDA education committee 2005–2009, AIDA president 2010–2016. Freediving qualifications: AIDA instructor trainer and A-level judge.

Simo Kurra, AIDA education committee 2007–2009, the “father” of AIDA IT systems: EOS, CARS, JOS, AAT. Freediving qualifications: AIDA instructor trainer.

Ari Nissinen, D.Sc. (Tech) and freediver.

cover‘Freediving’ is a 159 page book designed for a reader wanting to take their skill set and understand their bodies beyond the level of casual snorkelling. The suggested training plans at the end are designed to take the reader to a high level of competitive diving.

The authors are extremely experienced Freedivers, and the Bibliography not only shows the amount of research gone into the book, but also gives the reader many avenues for further in depth reading around the subject.

One of the first things you notice when you pick up the book is that it is a quality product, and a quick flick through you can see that it is well presented with good use of pictures and separate text boxes for key points.

The scope of the book covers a brief history of Freediving. It covers diving physics and physiology, safety and rescue and a good section on nutrition. It then breaks the skill set of Freediving down into pool and open water freediving. It certainly guides the reader towards competitive diving, whilst discussing recreational diving and its merits.

p68The book reads like a breath of fresh air. So many times I’ve sat down to read something on the sport of freediving that is littered with blatant misinformation from a lack of understanding by the author. I’ve especially noticed this problem in mediums like magazines, newspapers and forums. There are many nuggets of useful information, which really can only be explained by experienced Freedivers. Advice and direction that is obvious to the experienced diver is often missed on forums and magazine articles; these are true Freedivers talking about their sport and trying to get their points across like a good coach would in a session. It is worth reading a section more than once so you don’t miss these important parts.

There are many in depth descriptions of pool and open water diving skills which are excellent – they give a really good overview of many of the types of equipment choices we have, why we would make them and then good descriptions on how to execute good technique. One part of the book I wasn’t completely comfortable with was the section on packing and mouthfill. It was only skimmed over, but I would prefer to designate an entire teaching to the subject and the pros / cons and also the potential injuries that could be caused from improper use. The author almost convinces you to not practice packing, and mentions that it is potentially fatal, but does overview the skill set so now the reader can go away and practice. This is the one skill that could really pose problems, even dry. I think a larger section in the book, if it is to be covered at all, would have been better.

p36Immediately after that section however is a good sized chapter on safety, a chapter I have rarely seen given so much time in any other book, so this is a good thing. It really highlights many of the systems we have so the reader is under no doubt of the need for full safety systems in place rather than risking solo diving or being looked after by a casual unqualified observer.

Clearly these authors are proponents of the philosophy I adhere to. Repetition of skills and depths, consolidation, relaxation and comfort, and enjoy to achieve. I almost feel this has become an old school philosophy but hope it isn’t lost. This philosophy is reemphasised throughout the chapters.

‘Obsessive pursuit of personal bests easily leads to near-miss situations and even blackouts’

In short this is a useful book for beginners, and intermediate Freedivers. It is also a great resource for use as course material for various types of class and training situations. Worth the money, a good read.

You can source it here: www.freexperience.com/freediving-book.html

And Amazon here.

The E-book is available for ipad and Android users. Kindle version in progress…

Steve Millard is a leading UK based AIDA and PADI Freediving Instructor Trainer who is the owner of Apneists UK freediving group - www.freedivers.co.uk. Currently Press officer to the British Freediving Association and Performance mermaids lead coach.

Gear Reviews

Gear Review: Mares EOS LRZ Torch Range

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What does LRZ stand for I hear you ask? The answer is: LED lights, Rechargeable, Zoomable. Mares have created a versatile set of seven underwater lights in the new range to suit all needs and budgets.

I tested the most powerful of them – the EOS 32LRZ at Capernwray on a cold but bright spring day. I was diving with Alex Mustard, and so all the underwater images are by him, showing me trying out the torch in both the shallows and in some of the wrecks at this site.

All the torches in the new line have an LED visual battery charge indicator that allows you to keep the battery level under control.

Want to use it out of the water? No problem! The new EOS LRZ torches feature an innovative temperature control system that allows you to use them both underwater and on land. I can see myself using this on gloomy dog walks later in the year!

As you can see from the video I filmed just after getting back from a dive, the torch is easy to use, even with thick gloves in cold water. The zoomable light beam means that you can highlight a particular spot, or have a wide beam, which is great for both modeling for a photographer, and exploring different underwater environments.

The EOS 32LRZ has a powerful beam with 3200 lumens of power and 135 minutes of burn time. Perfect for some of the darker dives you can experience in the UK, but also for exploring overhead or enclosed environments. I easily got 2 long dives out of a single charge, and then was able to recharge it in my car using a USB cable on the way home, ready for the next day of diving.

The look and feel of these torches are great. In your hand you can feel the quality of the torches. They are solid and well built. They also look great. Each torch in the range comes with a padded case to keep them safe during transport.

For more, visit the Mares website by clicking here.

All underwater images by Alex Mustard

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Marine Life & Conservation

Reef-World launches Green Fins Japan!

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The Reef-World Foundation, the Onna Village Diving Association, the local government, and Oceana are delighted to announce that Japan is now the 14th country globally to implement the Green Fins initiative – a UN Environment Programme initiative. Onna Village in Okinawa is the first Japanese tourist destination to adopt Green Fins environmental standards to reduce the threats associated with diving and snorkelling on the marine environment.

Green Fins is piloted in Onna Village, Okinawa prefecture, an area renowned for its marine sports and has been working to protect its reefs for many years. Green Fins is implemented as part of the national Sustainable Development Goals project, which aims to manage and illustrate to the local industry how sustainable tourism can play a role in reef conservation. The economic benefits of the reefs benefit not only the fisheries industry but also the tourism industry as it has rocketed in recent decades.

If the project is successful – proving the value of sustainable tourism – the model has the potential to be escalated to a national level. A wide rollout would allow Reef-World to focus on uptake and expansion into other marine tourism and biodiversity hotspots across Japan. Green Fins implementation in Japan would provide practical solutions to many of the common problems faced in the area. It would also help to promote high standards for diving in the country. Improving the quality of the diving industry through Green Fins would demonstrate the added value of Onna Village’s tourism product. This, in turn, will encourage tourists to spend more time and money diving in the region.

Following a week of training by Reef-World (23 to 28 May 2022), Japan now has a national Green Fins team comprised of four fully certified Green Fins Assessors and two Green Fins Coordinators from Oceana and the local government. They will be responsible for recruiting, assessing, training and certifying dive and snorkel operators to become Green Fins members in the country. This involves providing training about the ecology and threats to coral reefs, simple and local everyday solutions to these threats and Green Fins’ environmental standards to dive and snorkel operators. Green Fins membership will help marine tourism operators improve their sustainability and prove they are working hard to follow environmental best practices as a way of attracting eco-minded tourists.

James Harvey, Director at The Reef-World Foundation, said: “We are really excited to finally introduce Green Fins in Japan. We have been planning this for almost three years, but the travel restrictions related to the pandemic hindered progress. The diving industry in Okinawa and the marine life upon which it has been built is so unique, it must be preserved for generations to come. The Okinawa diving community is very passionate about protecting their marine environment, and Green Fins has given them an opportunity to collectively work to reduce their environmental impact and pursue exemplary environmental standards.”

Diving and snorkelling related damage to sensitive marine ecosystems, including coral reefs, is becoming an increasingly significant issue. This damage makes them less likely to survive other local and wider stressors, such as overfishing or plastic debris and the effects of climate change. Based on robust individual assessments, the Green Fins initiative helps identify and mitigate these risks by providing environmental consultation and support to dive and snorkel operators. Through Green Fins implementation in Japan, Reef-World aims to reduce negative environmental impacts in the region by reaching 10 marine tourism operators, training 50 dive guides and raising awareness of sustainability best practices among 10,000 tourists in the first year.

Yuta Kawamoto, CEO of Oceana, said: “Green Fins will help to unify all the conservation efforts in Okinawa by applying the guidelines in many areas and raising tourists awareness. We hope this will increase the sustainable value in the diving industry and in turn increase the diving standards in the country.”

Green Fins is a UN Environment Programme initiative, internationally coordinated by The Reef-World Foundation, which aims to protect and conserve coral reefs through environmentally friendly guidelines to promote a sustainable diving and snorkelling tourism industry. Green Fins provides the only internationally recognised environmental standards for the diving and snorkelling industry and has a robust assessment system to measure compliance.

To date, four dive operators in Onna Village have joined the global network of 600+ trained and assessed Green Fins members. These are: Benthos Divers, Okinawa Diving Center, Arch Angel and Pink Marlin Club. There has also been significant interest from other operators, even those that are not located in Onna Village, for Green Fins training and assessment.

Suika Tsumita from Oceana said: “Green Fins serve as an important tool for local diving communities to move towards a more sustainable use of their dive sites; so that they can maintain their scenic beauty and biological richness to provide livelihoods for many generations to come.”

For more information, please visit www.reef-world.org or  www.greenfins.net/countries/japan. Dive and snorkel operators interested in signing up for Green Fins can find the membership application form at: www.greenfins.net/how-to-join.

Dive and snorkel operators in Japan interested in signing up to be Green Fins members can contact the Green Fins Japan team at japan@greenfins.net.

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