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Introducing Scotland Freedivers, the newest Apneists UK club



Apneists UK

I have been a Scuba diver and snorkeller for over 20 years. I met my first real Freedivers on a course in 2003 at the 28 metre deep SETT in Gosport. Howard Jones, Lee Donnelly, Hannah Stacey, Ann-Marie Kitchen-Wheeler and Matt Kitchen were amongst those who were there that weekend. It changed my direction forever; I just knew it was something that I wanted to get involved in as much as I could, an amazing sport with wonderful people at the helm. Very quickly I found the ‘Northern Contingent’ who went on to become some of the best friends I have – Alun George, John Moorcroft and Sam Still headed the group. I became part of this small, but dedicated group of Freedivers. Dedicated to training, and dedicated to each other.

The sport was so small at the time; many of the groups were polarised towards the South, especially London. Don’t get me wrong, they were great groups, but it wasn’t possible to train that far South regularly. Initially I had no interest in teaching the sport, but as the group stagnated as a few members left the country I decided to set up a school and club called Apneists UK. It was to be the vehicle to increase safety and education in our area, give me training opportunities to pursue my own goals at the time, to increase participation, and the general name showed my thinking even back then, to spread the word and our methods of training across the whole of the country.

Manchester numbers started to swell – we branched out into Liverpool, hooked up with Crewe and Birmingham groups, we made forays into Yorkshire starting sessions and gifting people the training opportunities I craved as a new freediver. As well as the main group line in Dorothea we set up lines in Vivian in North Wales, Capernwray in the lake district and Dosthill in Tamworth. Setting up these centres and pool sessions initially was a lot of work and a very hard process of convincing many pool operators and dive site owners what we were doing was safe. Nowadays those new to the sport enjoy a much easier ride as so much has been established before them.

In 2010 we started to get a trickle of would be Freedivers down from Scotland, and set up a small Glasgow club. I eventually made the journey up the motorway in 2013 for the first official Scotland Freediving course. It was great, and from that group William and Mick started a regular weekly Glasgow session and established a second evening more recently. The Groups North and South of the border meet regularly at dive sites in Scotland and the Lake district and we have joint trips to places like the Farne Islands in the furthest North Eastern area of the English coast. I have met many new friends from these trips, so every time I go up, I feel it is worth it.

The group is continuing to improve its skill set, moving up the qualification ladder, and we’ve just had the first Edinburgh Freediving course. There is a Glasgow course on the 25th July, where there will be four courses a year. We are running Basking shark trips on the West coast from Oban to Coll and Tiree, and are diving St Abbs on the Scottish East coast. We organised our first Scotland Spearfishing and foraging course on June 6th (to add to the North Wales courses we offer) and the group is arranging an endurance underwater charity event for the RNLI in June, so things are really looking good in the area.

There have been some notable Freedivers come from Scotland in the past; Mandy Buckley, our resident mermaid, and Ben and Fiona Gowland who were all National record holders. More recently one of our newbies Jason Kirkpatrick has podiumed in the UK Championships in Liverpool in March and will be representing the UK in the World Championships, and Katey McPherson, who has done Mono fin clinics and No Fins clinics with Apneists UK, did very well podiuming in the Stockport competition in 2014; so the trend for new talent coming through will continue.

I have a bit of Scottish blood in me myself somewhere in the family tree, so I am really looking forward to a great year in the land of bagpipes, deep fried mars bars and Haggis…. With great people.

If you wish to come and join us, please contact us via the website.

Freediving Blogs

How can a breath-hold class help with SCUBA?



By Chris Bustad

Unless you have been under a rock, you have heard that freediving is growing.  Classes are being offered all over.  Maybe you have even thought about taking one and that’s great, you should!  There is a lot you can learn about yourself in a freediver course and there are stress reduction and breathing techniques that will absolutely help your scuba abilities.

But what if there was a breath-hold course that wasn’t all about meditating?

A course that wasn’t about putting you in the most relaxed state you can get into before trying to hold your breath.  One that sticks you into a high stress, high heart-rate environment and then tells you, “now it’s time to hold your breath!”

There is… it’s called Breath-Hold Survival.

This is a course that Kirk Krack, founder of Performance Freediving International, developed to fulfill a request from professional big wave surfers.  From there, it morphed into a course that is used to teach US, Canadian, and British Special Forces what to do when going up is more dangerous than staying down and how to address the problem underwater.

This course has been used by athletes ranging from Red Bull and Oakley surfers, Racing Cup teams, and even snowboarders, skiers, e-gamers, and Olympic competitors.   There are physiological reactions that occur within your body when you train breath-holding, such as splenic contractions, where the spleen will contract to expel older red blood cells into your circulatory system after as little as a one-minute breath-hold, giving you an advantage over athletes that don’t train this way. The result is similar to blood doping, but it is natural and not illegal!

So how can this help your scuba abilities?

Glad you asked!  First, any in-water training you receive will make you more comfortable in the water.  This will allow you to handle high stress situations without allowing them to become a problem. You will be more likely to remain calm and deal with the issue.  Since this course specifically targets situations where “stuff” is hitting the fan, so to speak, this will help even more during an emergency.  And, it’s all done without being able to breathe off your regulator.  This can also help if you are getting in or out of the water in the surf zone and get knocked over or lose the regulator from your mouth.

Confidence in the water will make you more relaxed as well.  As you know, the more relaxed you are, the less air you consume, the longer your dive will be.  And, don’t forget about the breathing techniques I mentioned earlier!  The more control you have over the way you breathe, the longer your dive will last.

The course breakdown

The Breath-Hold Survival course is a specialty that typically takes place over 4 days and is based on the PFI Intermediate Freediver course.  There are 3 confined water sessions and two open water sessions.  This class is available to anyone comfortable in the water with average swimming skills.  There is also a pool only certification available if you don’t want to head out to open water.

Some of the skills you will be practicing include relaxed static breath-holds on a full breath (static is a breath-hold on the surface without moving), relaxed statics on an exhalation, and duress statics on full breath (getting tossed around like you are in the surf zone or a river).  You will also learn safety techniques so that you can continue to practice with a trained buddy after the course, some entry techniques for cross-training with freediving, and more.

So, go take a Freediver or Breath-Hold Survival course and create more comfort in the water that will help you avoid a potentially serious situation altogether or have the tools in your toolbox to better handle one!  See you in the water.

To find out more about International Training, visit

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Freediving Blogs

Jeff chats to… Mehgan Heaney-Grier – freediver, explorer and educator (Watch Video)



In this exclusive Zoom interview, Jeff Goodman, Scubaverse Editor-at-Large, chats to Mehgan Heaney-Grier – freediver, explorer, educator.

Well-known freediving personality and conservationist Mehgan Heaney-Grier has recently premiered her new web series “Imperfect Conservationist” and we will be sharing it with Scubaverse visitors soon here. Mehgan is a member of the Women Divers Hall of Fame and a popular speaker for the environment. She  says that the new series will provide viewers with ways they can become involved in protecting the environment in their daily lives.

Find out more about Mehgan at

Rather listen to a podcast? Listen to the audio HERE on the new Scubaverse podcast channel at Anchor FM.

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Explore the amazing triangle of Red Sea Reefs - The Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone on board the brand new liveaboard Big Blue.  With an option to add on a week at Roots Red Sea before or after. 

Strong currents and deep blue water are the catalysts that bring the pelagic species flocking to these reefs. The reefs themselves provide exquisite homes for a multitude of marine life.  The wafting soft corals are adorned with thousands of colourful fish. The gorgonian fans and hard corals provide magnificent back drops, all being patrolled by the reef’s predatory species.

£1475 per person based on double occupancy.  Soft all inclusive board basis, buffet meals with snacks, tea and coffee always available.  Add a week on at Roots Red Sea Resort before or after the liveaboard for just £725pp.  Flights and transfers are included.  See our brochure linked above for the full itinerary.

This trip will be hosted by The Scuba Place.  Come Dive with Us!

Call 020 3515 9955 or email

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