New Zealand’s First PADI Freediver Depth Camp

Freediving is an extremely fast growing sport. More and more people are now choosing to enter the water using breath-hold techniques. That said we need to ensure divers are diving safely and following safe dive practices to avoid unnecessary incidents. This is where PADI Freediver training comes in.

Promotion to customers and students of professional training will benefit both the industry and your business. A great example of this in New Zealand is Bryan Bailey and the marketing strategy he has chosen to increase this area of the Dive Centre.

Bryan is a PADI Master Instructor at Blenheim Dive Centre and recently hosted New Zealand’s first Freediver Depth Camp in the Marlborough Sounds in New Zealand. This camp was a huge success and reading the feedback from attendees the first of many to come.

Situated in the beautiful calm and deep waters of the Queen Charlotte Sounds, students from around the country assembled for 8 days of freediving. Their main focus was to work on advanced equalising techniques, relaxation at depth and the glide phase of the dive.

Happy Campers

Students worked towards gaining their PADI Advanced and Master Freediver certifications with the goal to progress further in the future to become PADI Freediver Instructors.

Bryan stated that “It was amazing to watch each individual diver develop and overcome challenges that they faced, it showed us that by diving over several consecutive days in a safe and controlled environment divers are able to build a solid foundation to become safe and knowledgeable Freedivers to pass on their passion”.

Camp attendees had this to say:

Ryan Hansen | PADI Master Freediver & Freediver Instructor:

“The experience I had at the depth camp in the Marlborough sounds was exactly what I needed to take my freediving to the next level. With a relaxed atmosphere and a good crew, it was easy to find the head space I needed to get the most from the course. Bryan’s instruction was tailored to each individual diver, their own abilities and goals. His experience and knowledge base was evident. The dive sites were located in idyllic bays with calm conditions, even when a storm passed over us we were able to find good diving conditions. We were visited by a pod of dolphins, explored a wreck and met some very friendly blue cod. I left the course with a new confidence, having comfortably completed several personal best dives and eager to use the skills that I learned to continue to improve”. 

Ryan and Rene

Gina Watts | PADI Advanced Freediver:

While flying up to the depth camp there were many things going through my head:  20m seems insanely deep, 10m seemed deep in basic… Will my body even allow me to do this? After leaving the depth camp with a new personal best of 29m my thinking has changed… a  lot.  

A pleasant 24 degrees on the surface; the Marlborough sounds made for the perfect training location.  Made even better with a few dozen bottlenose dolphins coming to show us how it was done after our first open water session.  Not only did we just have a deep site for training we were surrounded by native bush with a constant cicada hum, we dived down to explore wrecks and the water offered up an array of non venomous moon jellyfish to gaze upon during our relaxation breath ups.  

The week started with the voice inside my head telling me it’s time to breathe along with my body giving involuntary contractions, all normal things for freedivers.  Learning to relax through them and listen to what my body was saying; feeling different urges to breathe, relaxing every muscle are all things that allowed me to glide down to new depths.  

In the first few days of open water training the personal best depths were jumping in rather large increments, 4 meters for example; it was going past my personal best depths that the concentration of gliding, equalizing and relaxing through the contractions really came into play. During these phases depths became constant and comfortable but the depth jumps were smaller only a metre or so at a time.  

Diving to depth is the most relaxing part of my dive it is ascending to the surface when I have to concentrate differently, it is during this phase where you can really feel the contractions.  Once you are in the zone of relaxation, the ascent became just as enjoyable as the dive down.  There is no better feeling than finishing recovery breathing and knowing that it was a great dive, it’s a feeling that is hard to forget.

The last thing I can say is that after 8 consecutive days in the water training, I wanted to stay and do more training.  One spectacular week of self discovery and development.  Cheers to you Bryan!  

PB's all round!

For further information on PADI’s Freediver training visit

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