Free Diving!

A pathfinder to materials at University of Hawai'i - Manoa campus.

Free diving, also known as breath-hold diving, is a type of skin diving that does not involve the use of scuba tanks or other underwater breathing equipment. Instead, a free diver relies only on a single breath of air taken at the surface. Free divers very rarely have to worry about decompression or "the bends" and can move much more freely and unencumbered underwater than traditional scuba divers. There is a very mental side to free diving -- many divers practice yoga and meditation in order to relax and lower their oxygen consumption while underwater.

Free diving has been practiced by many cultures through the ages as a way to spearfish and dive for pearls. Today, free diving is more often done for pleasure or sport, though some people still spearfish this way. Many professionals vie for the record of deepest or longest dive in a number of different competitive divisions. The sport is more popular in Europe than it is in America.

A free diver.  This picture was adapted from the one at


GV838.672 S56 Sipperly, David, and Terry Maas. Freedive! Ventura, Ca.: BlueWater Freedivers, 1998.

This is undoubtedly the best resource available at UHM. It covers the physiological aspects, the dangers, the techniques, the gear, and some of the history of free diving.

GV840.S78 C48 Clark, John R. Snorkeling: A complete guide to the underwater experience. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1985.

A good book for the closely related sport of snorkeling and is informative about responsibly exploring the underwater world with only a breath of air.

To find other related materials, browse the stacks in the area of GV840.S78. These materials deal with skin diving, scuba diving, and snorkeling.


AV/C 11778 Weintraub Entertainment Group, Inc. The Big Blue. 118 min. RCA/Columbia Pictures Home Video, 1989. Videocassette.

This movie is based very loosely on the life of Jacques Mayol, a legend of the free diving sport. Directed by Luc Besson, and starring Rosanna Arquette, Jean Reno, and Jean-Marc Barr, this movie greatly boosted awareness in the US of the existence of free diving. (This resource is available in the Wong Audio-Visual Center in Sinclair Library.)


AP2.A8 Beavan, Colin. "Underwater Daredevils." The Atlantic Monthly. 279 (May 1997): 106-10.

This article provides a nice cover of the history and some of the major figures in professional free diving, as well as some of the current participants. It also mentions some of the different types of competition and the dangers of free diving.


If you should search any online databases or OPACs for more information, use the keywords FREE DIVING, FREEDIVING, BREATH-HOLD DIVING, or SNORKELING for best results. To search under subject, use SKIN DIVING or UNDERWATER DIVING.


"Freediving page 1." Accessed: 1 Oct. 2000.

This is probably the most comprehensive site on the Internet concerning free diving. It has some information about current records and events and an extensive page of links to other sources.

"The UBUC Freediving Page." Accessed: 2 Oct. 2000.

Part of the site of the free diving club at the University of Bristol, UK, this page has information on the physiology, gear, and dangers of free diving. It also has a link to a small but enjoyable photo gallery.

"Pipin Productions." Accessed: 1 Oct. 2000.

Besides being the official website of Pipin and Audrey Ferrerus, both champion free divers, this site also has some discussion of the history and physiological affects of free diving.

"Umberto Pelizzari Web Site." Accessed: 1 Oct. 2000.

The offical site of Umberto Pelizzari, another professional, record-holding free diver.

A school of fish surrounding a diver.  Taken from

Library Hours

All materials are located in Hamilton Library unless otherwise noted.

 Mon - ThursFriSatSun
Hamilton Library8am - 11pm 8am - 5pm9am - 5pm Noon - 9pm
Wong Audio-Visual Center
in Sinclair Library
8:15am - 8:45pm8:15am - 4:45pmClosed Noon - 8:45pm

This pathfinder was written by Zach Tomaszewski for LIS 601, Fall 2000.
An electronic copy can be found at
Intended audience: 10 years and older.