Fear of water is the most potent predictor of freedivers. As a result, it is critical to identify what is affecting your confidence and develop effective teaching tactics that best serve your approach to open water.  There is an obvious need for a tool that may assist in identifying your fear of open water. If you are afraid of diving or deep waters, this article will help you overcome your fear. The most exciting aspect of freediving is the unique relationship you will have with the open water environment.

A Complex Issue

Fear of deep water is a complex issue to discuss for some individuals, and many new freedivers deal with it. This is because fear is a personal and typical response when your body interacts with an uncontrollable environment. Each freediver has their unique experience, and everyone has anxieties and concerns while trying out open water freediving for the first time. Fear and anxiety are natural human emotions. Fear is not bad; it has helped us live and prospers in a world full of hazards and uncertainty.

Fear, on the other hand, may be crippling at times. It may prevent us from improving and enhancing our freediving abilities. You're already taking brave measures toward overcoming your fear if you're reading this. Learning how to shift your perspective regarding the object of your fear is the first step toward conquering it. Managing your expectations is a simple yet effective practice for dealing with difficult situations. In fact, we do this on a daily basis to avoid engaging in harmful behaviors. But, again, it's a precaution against potential discomfort. Be careful, however, that expectations are not necessarily founded on fact but rather on an interpretation of the truth based on previous experiences.

When you learn anything new, it's crucial to see yourself using it. Most likely, only humans are capable of visualization. It gives us a preview of the experience we might expect in the future. You're entering an unknown environment, and if you give this some further thinking, you could feel apprehensive about dealing with the issue. Even skilled freedivers experience fear and distress. Freediving competitions show that when deep divers drop a line to a depth one meter above their best, it can result in worry, anxiety, and stress, which can result in early turns, equalization problems, muscular tension, and other problems. In fact, this issue is not different for beginner freedivers.


No matter how long we have been freediving, we all have challenging times. However, excitement and fear are only two sides of the same coin. They essentially feel the same in our bodies in terms of how they feel. Our interpretation of the sensations makes the difference. Fear is helpful because it alerts us to possible threats and helps us determine how comfortable we are in a situation. Safety may suffer if fear is disregarded or ignored. We need to develop our confidence as freedivers. The major danger is panicking in the water, which might injure us. If we want to freedive safely, we must learn to manage our own fear. Not only does this improve our freediving skills, but it may also be a significant accomplishment and, for some people, an experienced event. The more dives you take, the more experienced you get - you simply start to trust yourself, realizing that all your freediving behavior becomes instinctual and fairly normal. Each time you overcome your fear, it fades away, and you've acquired experience and confidence before you know it. The question is how to overcome the fear of open-water freediving.

Fear To Freedom

According to many freedivers, freediving is a mental sport. Exercising at an athletic level in other sports that do not include water is insufficient, and individuals must grasp that freediving is about confronting their cognitive thinking. I struggled at first to reach the bottom of a 5m swimming pool because the panic feeling in my thoughts was taking control of my body. It started because of my lack of confidence in the water and because I was exploring somewhere new. Despite this issue, I was not afraid of swimming in an indoor environment such as a swimming pool, provided it was not a 5m deep pool. In a shallow swim pool, I saw that I could see the walls well, that people surrounded me, and that I could touch the bottom. Thus my brain regarded it as a safe environment. After realizing this was due to a lack of confidence, I attempted to go spearfishing because the likelihood of overthinking about being in deep water would be low, allowing me to dive at least 10m deep. But, this was not the case, and I panicked again, failing to reach the 4m depth.

My initial method was to become acquainted with a swimming pool, i.e., learn to swim. I could only swim 25m, so I determined to learn how to swim properly. After a few classes, I saw a difference in my technique and decided to go for longer swims. I began increasing my swimming distance from 25m to 100m, with the objective of reaching 1100m (50 laps). When I was able to achieve long-distance swimming, my confidence in the water increased. So I decided to go spearfishing again, and I discovered that I didn't mind being in open water because I could swim to shore if necessary. However, after discovering that I couldn't equalize my ears after 5m, several friends advised me to attend a freediving course, which I did. I have no doubt that being a confident swimmer will assist you in overcoming your fear of open water, and a freediving course is very beneficial.

The second step I took was to take a freediving course to learn more about it, including the physiology and risks involved. After learning the fundamentals of physiology and freediving in a swimming pool, it was time to explore the open water again. During my open water course, I saw that I was even more confident. Therefore I had no issue diving to 20m. So far, what I've observed is that being a strong swimmer and the risks freediving entails contributed to my confidence. So basically, everything needed was confidence so that I could trust myself while being in this type of environment.

I had assumed that my fear had gone by this point, but it had been misinterpreted. At 27 meters deep, when I had resolved to go further, I panicked once again, so I turned around and thought about why I had panicked. The answer was simple, my mind was ready to go deeper, but my body was not prepared. I thought I needed more practice and repeat my dives accordingly, so my body could get used to it. Having said that, this was not the only thing I found from my lessons learned. I learned that freediving involves two critical components, the mind, and the body. I believed I acquired the self-confidence and expertise necessary to explore the depth, but I was wrong since freediving is a slow sport progression. I realized that I needed more practice, knowledge, and skills. I made the decision to take a step back and relearn freediving.

What Helped Me

  • Be a confident swimmer in indoors and open waters.
  • Understand what vulnerability and the impact it has on our brain (being vulnerable is not being weak)Understand the risks of an open water environment.
  • Take a freediving course and take physiology seriously to understand what is happening to your body.
  • Join a freediving club to learn new skills and share experiences.
  • Use my fears during visualization (meditation) so you could visualize each stage of my dive, and find the trigger of it.
  • Meditating focuses on how to face your fear.
  • Take slow progression in freediving.
  • Be in the water as much as possible.

The steps above helped me achieve the following:

  • Be a Brazilian national record holder in two disciplines.
  • Move from beginner freediver to instructor level in just 18 months.
  • Progress from 4m depth to 50m.
  • Swim an open water marathon (10K).
  • The number one of the UK in finswimming in my category (Apnea 25m and 50m).
  • A strong believer in ‘You can’.

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