How To Weight Yourself Properly For Freediving
Article originally written and posted by Blue-Immersion Freediving School in Koh Tao, Thailand.
The amount of weight you need to wear when freediving depends on a number of factors: your weight, your body size and composition, the thickness of your suit, whether you are diving in salt or fresh water and the depths you will dive. Every situation will need a different approach.
One constant, however, is that we weight ourselves to be buoyant on the surface for safety reasons. You need to ensure that you will stay at the surface, even after a passive exhale, and if you get into trouble on your dive you want to make it as easy as possible for your buddy to rescue you and keep you at the surface.
There are different weighting systems for freediving, rubber weight belts and neck weights, but the most important consideration with all of them is to ensure that they are easy to get rid of. Any weighting system you use must be quick release, either for you or your buddy, so that you can quickly return to the surface in the event of trouble.
The term ‘neutrally buoyant’ refers to a balanced buoyancy where you neither float to the surface or sink down. To find out where your point of neutral buoyancy is, you will need a dive line which is marked at ten meters, or a dive line and a dive computer. Pull or fin down the line to ten meters, stop on the rope, let go and then see if you float up, sink, or remain still. If you experience the latter, this is your point of neutral buoyancy with your current weight setup. If you float or sink, return to the surface and adjust the depth or amount of weight you are wearing until you are neutrally buoyant at your desired depth.
If you are new to freediving then no-one would expect you to dive to ten meters the first time you got in the water and then hang around until you had ascertained your neutral buoyancy. So for beginners, there’s a more simple method that, while not as accurate, is easier. Firstly, put on your entire weight setup and get into the water. Then float upright in the water without finning and with your arms by your sides. You should be able to take a passive exhale with the water reaching a level between your chin and lower lip. If your mouth goes under the water then you need to take some weight off. If when you exhale the water does not reach your chin, you probably need to add weight.
We’ll look now at weighting for different disciplines and what to consider when setting up your own weighting system.
- Static Apnea (STA) – No weight used, the body should easily float at the surface
- Dynamic Apnea with Fins (DYN) – Weight belt and neck weight belt to be neutrally buoyant. It depends a lot on where you carry your buoyancy. Generally speaking, women carry more positive buoyancy in their bottoms and men carry more positive buoyancy in their heads.
- Constant Weight freediving with Fins (CWT) and Free Immersion (FIM) – For safety, you should be neutrally buoyant at a depth between 10 and 12 meters when performing any dive deeper than 15 meters
- Recreational Freediving – It can be very frustrating to be neutrally buoyant at 10 meters if the sea floor is only 4 meters and the moment you fin down, you start to bob up again. When shallow diving, you should aim to be neutrally buoyant a little shallower than the sea bottom to avoid crashing into the floor and damaging anything.
What is most important, though, is that you choose a weighting setup that you and your buddy are comfortable with and is always prioritizes safety.
How about you, how do weigh yourself and how do you control your buoyancy ?