When you surface following your dive, the breathing you do is the so called "recovery breathing".

It is important not to exhale any amount of air until your mouth has cleared the surface, as exhaling just after the dive deprives your body of oxygen and can make you more negatively buoyant.

The purpose of recovery breathing is to re-oxygenate your body as quickly as possible while not expelling all the air from your lungs. This air, while low in oxygen, still has some O2. Be careful: Forceful and complete exhales can cause you to blackout.

How To Do Recovery Breathing

  1. If possible, hold onto something for support (whether it’s a buoy, side of the pool, rope, etc.). If not, just make sure that your airways do not dip below the water.
  2. Quickly exhale a small amount of air
  3. With your mouth wide open, take a quick, deep breath in.
  4. Close your mouth for a second.
  5. Exhale a short, passive breath.
  6. Repeat steps three to five for at least 30 seconds or longer until you are completely recovered.

It is important not to talk at this point – just focus on your recovery instead! Your buddy should watch you for at least 30 seconds after you surface.

Remember: Always perform a minimum of four recovery breaths after you surface. It is critical that you establish correct technique after every breath-hold so it becomes a consistent and subconscious part of your routine (automatic response). This gives you a better chance of recovering well, in particular should you surface in a critical state. You should do it after every dive, no matter how shallow or deep, short or long!

Freediving is a great feeling and a big accomplishment. Learning this skill has never been easier! Just hit to get taught with good care and guidance.

Video by Vasileia Malteza

Vassilis is a passionate and knowledgable freediving and spearfishing trainer.