What’s On reviews a new course that teaches you how to freedive in Abu Dhabi. Learn more about FreedivingUAE, and the AIDA certified courses.

It’s been called one of the most dangerous sports of the sea – freediving sees elite athletes descend into water, sometimes 40 to 50 metres deep, without using breathing apparatus.

Diving down to the depths of the ocean without an oxygen tank sounds risky, but Alex Boulting, co-founder of FreedivingUAE, claims it is safer than scuba diving. “In terms of being human beings and understanding our own limits, freediving is at the cutting edge,” says Boulting. “If you go scuba diving, there is nothing stopping you to plummeting 100m or missing a decompression stop. In freediving, you are tied to a line, and that line has a limited depth, so it is very hard to get yourself into difficulty.

“We have a built-in mammalian reflex, the same reflex as dugongs, dolphins and seals. If you hold your breath, your heart rate goes down and your body switches into an oxygen conservation mode. If you stick your head in water it becomes even stronger, and if you go to depth, it becomes even stronger. We have these physiological adaptations. It is in our genes. So it is a very natural place to be.”

Boulting does admit that risks appear when people push their limits in competitions. The controversial no-limits dives have tragically claimed the lives of several top divers, including that of UAE National freediving champion (and co-founder of FreedivingUAE) Adel Abu Haliqa. “His spirit is keeping the sport alive here,” says Boulting.

While it may take time for perceptions about the sport to change, popularity for pushing boundaries is growing. Currently over 110 people have signed up to the UAE freediving team and the organisation is keen for more. With the International Association for Development of Apnea (AIDA), the worldwide federation for the sport, on board to recognise records and competitions hosted here in the UAE, Boulting says the aim is to recruit a national team they can send to the World Championships in 2016.

In March of this year diver Hadeya Hassan Almenhali became the first female UAE national record holder in static apnea, holding her breath for two minutes, 11 seconds. The next competition will be hosted in August and is expected to see more records broken.

FreedivingUAE teaches AIDA certified courses in both Abu Dhabi and Dubai and includes both theory and pool work.

Various locations in Abu Dhabi, Dhs400 for a four-hour discover freediving course. Tel: (050) 6130486. freedivinguae.com