Freedivers are blessed to require very little equipment to enjoy the underwater world. We only need fins, mask, and snorkel. But, do we really need a snorkel for freediving? Let’s find it out
For safety reasons, you have to remove a snorkel from your mouth during any breath-hold. But what about providing safety to your freediving buddy or while relaxation breathing before the breath-hold?
Let’s start with static apnea. Two options for relaxation breathing before STA. Some freedivers use a snorkel if they prefer to prepare with a face down in the water (it also helps to trigger Mammalian Dive Reflex, but create extra “Dead Space”). Other freedivers do relaxation breathing with the face out of the water either leaning on a pool wall or lying on the back on the surface. A safety buddy normally don’t use a snorkel either, since it is not necessary to put his face in the water
The other pool discipline is dynamic apnea, where a freediver swims horizontally underwater and safety buddy follows him on the surface. Most of the time relaxation breathing is done without a mask and snorkel and mask can be put on only right before the breath-hold. Though, same as with the static apnea some people feel more relaxed with a face in the water to get ready. In this case, before the swim, it makes sense to unclip the snorkel and leave it on the side of the pool, to prevent unnecessary dragging. Safety buddy in this discipline has to wear the snorkel, to be able to constantly watching freediver from the surface, ready to provide assistance as quickly as possible.
Now let’s have a look what do we have with diving in the sea.
If you dive in calm water, you can prepare for a dive without a snorkel, lying on your back. However, in case if the sea is a bit choppy, then it would be not the best position for relaxation breathing. You can imagine – you lay on the surface, do your final deep breath and when almost ready to go, some water can accidentally get over your face. So in this case it would be easier to do relaxation breathing through a snorkel face down in the water. Personally I prefer to leave snorkel on a float and not to have it clipped to my mask underwater.
A safety buddy usually has a snorkel, to be able to watch a freediver during his descend and in some cases watch how diver is coming up. Besides, safety buddy doesn’t dive that deep, and snorkel dragging is not a big problem for him. Some Freedivers keep it attached to the mask; others hold it in a hand or put it under the weight belt.
A bit different story is with recreational freediving when freedivers explore the local reef and enjoy the marine life, combining together snorkeling and freediving. They dive pretty shallowly and while they swim on the surface they look for something interesting underwater. Does it make sense to wear a snorkel? It does! And how to deal with a snorkel during your dive? You have several options – leave snorkel on the float, pass it to your buddy, hold it in the hand during the whole dive or just keep it clipped to the mask, – whatever you find more convenient.