Book review: Freediving

By Jens Fischer | March 10, 2019 

I’m pretty sure you already heard about this book. Today I share with you why - in my opinion - it’s one of the best books on freediving ever - and I’ve read a few of them 😉

As said before in the article about our AIDA course or the article about new insights into Frenzeling, I regularly listen to the podcast THE FREEDIVE CAFE by Donny Mac. Donny mentioned the book several times and made me so curious that I HAD to buy it. Bull’s eye!


“Freediving”, written by Kimmo Lahtinen, Simo Kurra and Ari Nissen - all these guys are experienced freedivers. 159 pages packed with expert knowledge in precise, straightforward language. Valuable information put in a nutshell, plus lots of images for explanation. Highly recommendable!

Apple iBooks: Freediving – Simo Kurra, Kimmo Lahtinen & Ari Nissinen & Freediving – Simo Kurra, Kimmo Lahtinen & Ari Nissinen

What’s in for you?

You will get a short introduction about diving as a hobby and answers to questions like: What’s it all about “Freediving”? What are the different disciplines? How to start - and how to improve your skills? Which physical and mental preconditions should you have as a freediver?

Up next an abstract about the history of apnea diving, short and crisp. Did you know that humans have been diving already 6500 years ago?

After this short introduction, the authors really get going. The topics:


Physics - the fascinating interaction between water, pressure and air. How do the volumes of the air-filled cavities in our bodies change during diving? What effect does this have on buoyancy? Why do we need a wetsuit at all? And how do different neoprene suits affect buoyancy?

What’s the relationship between the partial pressures of the different gases and the “shallow water blackout”? Can freedivers suffer a decompression accident and what does the solubility of gases in liquids have to do with it? The authors give answers to relevant questions like these without becoming too theoretical.


How does the body actually work? Well, that would certainly go beyond the scope, but the functional principles and adaptation mechanisms in relation to apnea diving are listed here. Hehe, right now I can hear Eva saying that I should write what it is all about IN PRACTICE.

OK, here are a few facts from the book. Did you know that (assuming you are pretty average) you carry about 70 square meters of lung surface around with you? Where does the “hunger for air” come from? Why is the residual volume of the lung relevant for a diver? What is this ominous residual volume anyway - and is it possible to increase the FLC aka functional lung capacity? Why would you want that? And what does “packing” have to do with it?

What role does the spleen play in diving? What is hematocrit and where do the red blood cells come from? How do muscles work, what is ATP and how long does it last? Why is this relevant at all?

And why do I have such a poor eyesight underwater unless I use a mask or goggles? What are the “mammalian diving reflex” and these notorious “contractions”? And what’s the reason for immersion diuresis, which -of course- nobody knows from first-hand but has only heard about?

Once you have internalized these basics, the next section is almost self-explanatory: The risks of freediving. This subchapter is worth a mint. Every last should have read it. Period. Later in the book there's a whole chapter about security with diving, this is also a must-read.

Pool diving, open sea and more

Instead of going through each chapter and boring you with listings I’ll just outline briefly the remaining chapters.


Equipment, disciplines, techniques, exercises etc.

A great introduction to exercises that are based on each other and which help you to level up your diving technique. By the way - how can you train deep diving in a pool?

Open sea diving

How does the equipment differ from pool diving equipment? Next you learn about the phases and techniques of deep diving, including advanced pressure equalization techniques. Some elements from the following chapter about safety already show up here.

Safety and Rescue

Having a good buddy at your side is not a free ride for inappropriate pushing the limits! By the way - what is a buddy? Rescue maneuvers... how, when and what to do in an emergency? And how to exercise that?

Then there is a subject that I haven't found in any other book: Safety during competitions. To me that was very exciting. Blackout, LMC and Samba... situations that hopefully none of us will get into. But if so, how to deal with it?


Rather intended for the performance-oriented diver, this chapter also contains some interesting details for keen recreational divers. What are free radicals, what is the pass through time for water ? Spoiler: from drinking to sweating - assuming corresponding physical activity - 9-18 min. The section on the placebo effect and autosuggestion concerning nutrition is also very interesting. Really, I did not expect this in a book on apnea diving.


Although far back in the book, this chapter is outstanding. Many other books emphasize the importance of inner calm and mental strength as well as visualizations - but then that's it. Different here - this is where the authors really get started. How do you deal with fears? How with failures? How do encounters ranging from negative experiences to blackouts affect a diver's psyche? How to handle such experiences? How do you expand your comfort zone without taking unnecessary risks? What type of person are you, performance-oriented or experience-oriented? What are the pitfalls if you want to develop your diving skills?

Competitive diving

Now we are with the pros for good. Disciplines, competition rules, equipment differences to recreational diving. Targeted competition preparation - what does a good training plan look like?

Additional reading tips

For those who still want to drill down on the topic, the authors provide plenty input in a reading list, itemized by books and specialist papers.


Again: this book was a joy to devour!

159 pages packed with expert knowledge in precise, straightforward language. Valuable information put in a nutshell, plus lots of images for explanation. Highly recommendable!

Where to get it

Apple iBooks: Freediving – Simo Kurra, Kimmo Lahtinen & Ari Nissinen Freediving – Simo Kurra, Kimmo Lahtinen & Ari Nissinen

Authors Website:

Update 2019-05-27

Meanwhile I stumbled upon the new book "Specific training for freediving - deep, static and dynapic apnea" by Umberto Pelizarri. Did you already read it? I just ordered it and as soon as I've read it I'll post a review here.

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2 comments on “Book review: Freediving”

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