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Water and adventure sports center and school in Costa Brava

Snorkel vs. freediving - No, is not the same

What's different between snorkel and freedive, by Freedive l'Estartit

Why it’s not the same snorkeling that freediving?
What’s de difference?
And why is that common to think that it’s the same?

Yes, it’s true that snorkeling and freediving are both performed in the water but, besides that, there are really few similitudes between them.
Let’s explain their performing quickly and easily, to be able to see the differences between these two sports that, besides equally exciting, are completely different.

The point
Snorkeling is about swimming in the surface with a pair of fins, a mask and a snorkel, to observe the sea bottom and the sea life around from the surface, without going down, while breathing continuously by the snorkel.
As the point is observing the bottom and the sea life, snorkeling is performed in shallow water areas, where it’s possible to see the bottom from the surface.

Freediving, in the other side, is about diving as deep as possible and/or for as much time as we can do, without any breathing help, which means holding the breath (here we are not considering static apnea nor dynamic apnea, which are used to be performed on swimmingpools and have different points).
Due to this point, and unlike when snorkeling, we look for deeper places, even if there is not much sea life around to see.

The gear
For snorkeling we don’t need much power nor much speed but, in the other hand, we need easy-handling and comfortable fins. So we will use short and flexible fins.
For freediving we will need long and more rigid fins, as they will give us a more powerful and efficient finning, which is needed to save energy and consume less oxygen. Let’s remember that while freediving we are holding the breath, why is mandatory to optimize our oxygen reservoir.
We can talk long about freediving fins, which is not the point of this article, but we have a previous article about them:

Snorkeling final goal is to observe the sea life, so we will choose a mask that, above any other feature, will provide us with a great visibility and wide vision field.
But in the other side, for freediving we need a reduced internal volume mask, because as soon as we are going down the air inside the mask is going to get compressed and we will need to equalize it with the air in our lungs, and the less air we need to equalize the less air we are going to spend.
In the next article we will talk about how to choose a freediving mask.
That kind of mask use to have a reduced visibility field which is not really important while freediving. But that can be helpful to get relaxed and to focus (as it reduce the distractions), which is really important in this sport.

While snorkeling we keep breathing all the time, so we will use a snorkel which will be able to get attached to the mask, and with a device to stop the water getting inside the snorkel. In addition is nice to have a purge valve, which reduces the effort when emptying.
For freediving we need the most simple snorkel that we can find. Built in one piece, no devices, no valves and which wont bend if it’s not attached to the mask.

When we freedive we need negative buoyancy when we go deeper than certain point, so we will use weights. The quantity of them will depend of some things as our buoyancy or the wetsuit that we are using, between others.
For snorkeling we always want positive buoyancy, why we are not going to use weights and, in exchange, is usual to use a buoyancy device.

We need to emphasize that, as snorkeling have not any complexity and you don’t need to take many cares besides to watch for the currents, your own fatigue or maritime traffic, freediving is a really safe sport but which needs a previous training, being totally inadvisable performing freedive without that previous training.

So, yes! It’s true that snorkeling and freediving are both performed in the water and that you need a pair of fins, a mask and a snorkel for both of them but, as we did see, we use different kind of gear suitable for different objectives and, as snorkeling is a funny and relaxed activity focused on observing, freediving is an intense and physically demanding sport, even when both of them are good for any person.

Snorkel vs apnea, Freedive l'Estartit
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