Freedivers are blessed to require very little equipment to enjoy the underwater world. We only need fins, a mask, and a snorkel. But do we actually need the 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. There are 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 are breathing, either leaning on a pool wall or lying on the back. A safety buddy usually doesn’t use a snorkel 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 a safety buddy follows him on the surface. Most of the time, relaxation breathing is done without a mask, and a snorkel, and the mask can be put on only right before the breath-hold. However, like with 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 constantly watch freediver from the surface, ready to assist as quickly as possible.
Now let’s have a look at what 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, if the sea is a bit choppy, it would not be 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. I prefer to leave my snorkel on a float and not to have it clipped to my mask underwater.
A safety buddy usually has a snorkel to watch a freediver during his descend and, in some cases, watch how the diver is coming up. Besides, a safety buddy doesn’t dive that deep, and snorkel dragging is not a big problem. Some Freedivers keep it attached to the mask; others hold it in 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 snorkeling and freediving. They dive pretty shallowly, and while they swim on the surface, they look for something exciting 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 hand during the whole dive or keep it clipped to the mask – whatever you find more convenient.