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What is the PADI Freediver Course?

Expand your lung capacity and you can ditch the tank.
By Travis Marshall | Updated On October 17, 2020
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What is the PADI Freediver Course?

Freediver with sardine school

Freediving allows divers to enter the water with minimal gear, reducing the barrier between them and the water. Millan

Breathing air from a tank isn’t the only way to explore beneath the waves. Freediving—diving underwater using only the air in your lungs—is a challenging and exciting way to get up close with interesting marine life. The PADI Freediver course offers a helpful introduction to the sport of freediving, covering the basic skills needed to get started. “The divers who take this course are often either curious about trying freediving for the first time, or they’re looking to improve their skills,” says Augusto Montbrun, dive operations manager at Buddy Dive Resort in Bonaire.


One key benefit of freediving over scuba diving is silence. Because you’re not breathing through a regulator and blowing bubbles, you can often get much closer to marine life—a bonus, especially for some photographers.

Learning to freedive can also make you a better scuba diver by honing skills like breath control and finning techniques, which can help reduce your air consumption on scuba and make you more streamlined and efficient in the water.

“Breathing techniques define a freediver, so that’s the first and most important skill divers will master in the PADI Freediver course,” Montbrun says.

What You’ll Learn

The class starts with knowledge development through independent study that provides an overview of freediving principles.

Starting in confined water, freedivers learn, among other skills, static and dynamic apnea. Static apnea means learning how to hold your breath for at least 90 seconds, with your face in the water and without swimming. Dynamic apnea takes those same principles and applies them while swimming horizontally underwater for at least 80 feet.

In open water, students practice freediving to depths of around 30 feet with mask, fins, snorkel, wetsuit and weight belt. They’re taught how to follow the “one up, one down” buddy system to provide safety and support while freediving.


The PADI Freediver course is open to anyone age 15 or older, with no scuba certification or previous freediving experience required.