How To Sink When Freediving: Master freefalling today

Naked woman sinking underwater clutching legs up to chest and blowing air bubbles.

If you’ve ever watched a spearfisher dive in the water to go on their hunt or a competitive freediver plunging deep for their chance at glory, you’ll see that freediving is one of the most thrilling water sports out there. The rush of the dive without any modern-day breathing equipment, descending down into the deep may beg the question: how do you sink while freediving?

Here’s how to sink when freediving:

1. Choose the type of freediving you want to do.
2. Make sure you have the right gear.
3. Empty your lungs to achieve neutral buoyancy.
4. Follow the specific guidelines to your freediving activity.

As we advance, I’m going to precisely discuss these steps in detail. Without further ado and no pun intended, let’s dive in!

1. Choose the Type of Freediving You Want to Do

The way you execute freediving depends on what type of freediving activity you’re trying out.

From recreational to competitive freefalling, it all falls down to the type of activity you are performing. I’m going to go over some different ways free falling can be accomplished, ranging from casual sport to serious competition.

Let’s take a look at the different styles of freediving.


This activity involves free diving with a speargun in hand, so sinking or freefalling is a little more complicated than traditional free diving.

Spearfishing can be performed by entering the water from the beach or diving off a boat in open waters. In spearfishing, free divers wear a weighted belt to help them achieve neutral buoyancy and reach depths ranging anywhere from 15 to 100”. (4.572 to 30.48 m).

Synchronized Swimming

This sport incorporates dance, gymnastics, and swimming in planned movements performed underwater.

A popular form of freediving, synchronized swimming takes skill and precision and has been a part of the Olympic games since the 1950s. Although synchronized swimming takes place in a pool and not in open water, there are still freefalling techniques utilized while performing choreographed moves.

Underwater Contact Sports

These activities can range from underwater hockey, underwater football or underwater rugby. Players must free-dive to compete using a negatively buoyant ball or puck. These games are played in a pool with two teams and have similar rules to their on-land counterparts.

Competitive Breath-Hold Tournaments

Competitive Apnea is a freediving competition held worldwide that focuses on over 15 different variations that can range from freefalling to a specific depth with monofins or bifins, free-falling without fins, or using a guideline to free fall and not using one.

To get a better feel for competitive freediving and proper freefalling form and techniques, this video shows a free diver’s free fall to beat a world record of freediving to 130 meters (328.08 ft).

2. Make Sure You Have the Right Gear

The following items are equipment that freedivers can use to assist with sinking. Depending on personal preference, you may find some, all, or none of these items helpful when free falling.

  • Wetsuit: The deeper you sink, the colder the water will become. These wetsuits are designed to help you regulate your body temperature in those deep chilly waters.
  • Monofins or Bifins: Each freediver has their own preference in whether they choose to use monofins or bifins. Cressi Gara Freediving Fins are a good choice for faster free falls.
  • Weighted Belts: To help you reach your ideal diving depths, a weighted belt will be very convenient. The Riffe Rubber Weight Belt with Nylon Buckle will come in handy when sinking in your free dive.
  • Mask: A mask will be helpful if you’re planning on exploring underwater. We recommend the SalviMar Noah Mask (click here to view on Amazon).
  • Ear Plugs: In free falling, equalization is important to avoid pain and discomfort. Freediving earplugs like Doc’s ProPlugs Vented Ear Plugs are specifically designed for underwater sports.

3. Empty Your Lungs To Achieve Neutral Buoyancy

When free falling, it’s essential that you empty your lungs to make your overall volume less dense than that of the water to help you sink below the surface. Where typical swimmers take a big breath before they go underwater, freedivers must exhale their breath if they want to free fall and reach their desired depth.

To sink in freediving, your lungs must be emptied to achieve neutral buoyancy or the level at which you are no longer buoyant enough to float. It can be achieved by carrying or attaching weights to your body, leading down a rope, and swimming downward, which is referred to as free falling.

To get started with your free fall, you’ll want to be facing down towards the depths of the water.

Your neutral buoyancy level can be achieved with weights between 10-15 m (32.80-49.21 ft) below the surface.

To find out how much weight you should be carrying to get to neutral buoyancy depends on your body size and can be different for every person. You can try testing how much weight you should carry before performing the actual free fall by getting in the water and seeing how much weight will still keep you afloat after inhaling.

Free Falling Explained

Free falling is the method of sinking in freediving to achieve neutral buoyancy, which helps you to descend and prevents you from floating back up to the surface.

To understand how free falling works, we need to look at the physics behind it.

As mentioned before, neutral buoyancy needs to be achieved when sinking or free falling. A living, breathing human body naturally has positive buoyancy, which means it floats on top of the water. Negative buoyancy means an object is heavier than the water so that it will sink.

Neutral buoyancy takes place when an object weighs the same as the water it is submerged in.

The laws of buoyancy were first introduced by the Ancient Greek mathematician Archimedes around 200 B.C. Archimedes’ principle has helped develop present-day products to achieve buoyancy, such as life preservers.

4. Follow the Specific Guidelines to Your Freediving Activity

Free falling can be an exhilarating experience, but it can also be a potentially risky endeavor if you don’t follow the guidelines properly that can lead to a blackout or potentially drowning.

This video wonderfully demonstrates all the steps to take to have a successful and safe free-falling experience.

When you begin your descent, your body should be in a straight line, with arms relaxed at your sides and legs slightly bent. Your head should be looking straight ahead.

Whether you are wearing monofins or bifins, you will start kicking when descending to get to your neutral buoyancy level which is around 10 to 15 m down ((32.80-49.21 ft). Once you reach this level, you can stop kicking, and your body will begin to sink to your desired depth.

It’s vital that you follow the guidelines for freefalling to avoid any errors. It may also help to train with a freefalling coach or to practice free falls in small increments before your initial freedive.

As a reminder, it’s important to mention that freediving should never be done alone, and it’s always necessary to have a diving partner with you, no matter if you’re just starting out or you’re a seasoned expert.


Now that you know how to sink in freediving it’s time to put your knowledge to practice. As always, remember to freedive with good intentions and always bring a buddy along.

About the Author Gerrie van Niekerk - Apnealogy

Gerrie is a passionate Freediver, Spearfisher, Digital Marketer, and author for the Apnealogy website. Gerrie is an SSI Level 1 certified Freediver who loves geeking out about freediving and spearfishing gear and lives for his family and adventure.

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