I’ve been lucky enough to train and teach at sites across the world. The one thing that has always stayed consistent is the quality of training partners and teachers I am surrounded by. It's no secret that freediving education and equipment are evolving quickly, making it difficult and a bit overwhelming to start your own training process. Luckily, there’s an abundance of information for development at your fingertips including resources, videos, and blogs online. This content is a fantastic asset to anyone interested in the introduction to freediving, but online resources often provide only a high-level understanding of the content at hand or general advice. I always encourage people that technical training is required to ensure safe and effective growth. This is part of why finding the right freediving companions is critical.
You’ll likely find many that train in a way that you're interested in, but narrowing the list can be tough. Training is an investment and, for many, might not be an activity that you are able to do frequently. It takes becoming a weekend warrior, or, making time out of your busy schedule. Despite the cost and time commitment, training provides many benefits and a solid foundation to grow from. So, if you truly appreciate your training and see value in it, what you’ll want to do next is evaluate what to focus on and who should deliver to you that training. Do not overlook the value of diving in places you enjoy with people you like and where you can light a fire in each other. Enjoying your environment and building a relationship with partners will strengthen your commitment to diving and will amp up training motivation. I’ve learned that an effective training session goes beyond how long your buddy has been diving, or how deep they can go. Paying attention to the small details of preparation, many of which take place before you step foot into the water is key. Here are 5 characteristics of a good training buddy.
When seeking a training partner, their experience in freediving is an obvious consideration. It varies from place to place, but most divers must be an AIDA 3 certified freediver (or another organization's equivalent) to train on their own at a school or dive site. The most effective buddies are well versed in what they’re training, and during a training cycle should be utilizing their time in the water well with each session. By having this experience, they can not only be a positive influence on your own training but also can approach problems with a clear mind when things don’t go as planned. Buddies who are experienced should also be an adequate safety for your level and share their experiences, good or bad, openly with others. Before engaging with a training partner, you might consider checking out their online presence. Of course, this isn't a leading determining factor of a good buddy, but it's nice to find those who are passionate about their diving and enjoy sharing their knowledge.
A good dive partner will get involved before the training even starts. As mentioned, training sessions are a commitment of your time, and no one wants to spend considerable time fixing technical issues once training has already begun. A great training partner will not only provide you with their routine and plan for apnea training, a partner that takes the needs of your own training into consideration and structures the session in a way that is more effective for the both of you. Good buddies keep each other's interests in mind by checking that you both have what you need- for a great session. Every diver has specific needs they’re trying to meet when they begin to train, and individuals with freediving education have different levels of expertise on the topic. It’s also important to know who will be training alongside you in the water in case of an emergency and to be familiar with the environmental conditions that vary from day to day.
In freediving, we often frequent the same locations and dive sites as our training continues. Most times, we meet friends and buddies along the way with similar preferences. In fact, geographic proximity matters a great deal when it comes to finding a buddy. Proximity is the single strongest driver of connections, which occurs when two people decide to make an effort to train together. So when you make a friend in the community, it's worth discussing each other's diving plans to see if it's likely that you'll reconnect with them in the future. This makes it possible to frequent different dive sites and have a buddy that knows you well already. Not only is it so fun to reconnect with friends, but it also can help to share certain expenses and expand your experience in a variety of dive sites.
The goal of connecting with a training partner is to have a trustworthy and capable buddy that you can rely on and who can work with you to help solve problems you might otherwise solve alone. When choosing a training partner, you should check to be sure they have a successful track record of being a solid buddy for others and are the type of person to support your success! You can simply ask the prospective training buddy about their journey with freediving and use your better judgment as to whether you want them as a partner.
You should come away from every freediving training with new knowledge and a better understanding of yourself as a diver, but that doesn’t mean all of your problems are solved. An indicator of a great buddy is whether they are available and open to chatting with you after the training is completed. A truly awesome training partner should be interested in your relationship and be able to reflect well on the experience you just shared together. Make sure you’re asking potential training partners if they are willing to reciprocate this type of support after the training is over.