By Gary McGrath AIDA, PADI and SSI Freediving Instructor at Freedive Ibiza
So, you've decided to do a freediving course.
Nothing beats good tuition by an experienced instructor. These days a simple google search brings up an ever-increasing number of options of instructors and schools with whom to take a course with. With the massive increase in freediving schools in the last few years, comes a massive increase in instructors.
How on earth do you choose the right one for you? Well hopefully I can help you with what I think are some key points to consider when making your decision.
First and foremost, for me, is experience. That is certainly not to say that newly qualified instructors should be overlooked, but taking a freediving instructor course is merely the first step on an instructors’ journey. It takes time to develop your own style and rapport with the material you are teaching, to be able to fluidly get your ideas across to others.
If its an individual instructor you are looking at, then look at how many people have they certified and where they have worked in the past? Have they worked alongside other instructors at a school, or set up on their own as an individual? There are great benefits to working in a team with other instructors: you are in what you could call a ‘melting pot’ constantly sharing ideas and techniques with your colleagues. Solo instructors should be active in the world of Freediving, either organising events, excursions or competitions, or perhaps working at events as safety divers or in other roles; or perhaps they are competitive divers themselves. I know competitions might seem like a world away from recreational freediving, but being involved shows an instructors dedication to their sport. Time spent with other freedivers gives an instructor access to experience and information that is simply not included in published course materials.
Here at Freedive Ibiza we have a good mix of competitive and recreational experience, Louisa is a former GB team member and regular safety team member and platform co-ordinator at some of the highest profile freediving events in the world, including the prestigious VB competition, respected for having the best trained safety team on the circuit. She has also taught alongside some world class instructors at their training camps all over the world.
I myself have been a GB team member at various World Championships, I have been Freediving for 9 years and am certified to teach AIDA, PADI and SSI courses. I taught for 18 months at the biggest freediving school in the world (Freedive Gili), certifying several hundred students in various levels of training, working with complete beginners to competitive athletes.
Another important consideration when choosing where to train is class sizes and instructor-to-student ratios. Most training agencies out there allow instructors to take 4 to 6 students to one instructor. Here at Freedive Ibiza we cap our numbers at 3:1. We believe a smaller group makes a better course, allowing us to dedicate more time to individuals needs.
Safety is a theme running through all our courses and is an important part of our teaching ethos. All our dive sites are risk assessed and scouted prior to courses, we are conservative in our safety practices and we keep our rescue and CPR/first aid skills fresh and up to date. Ask your instructor where their open-water sites are. No activity is completely risk-free and your instructor should have a clear plan in place in case of emergencies. Whilst a trek through pristine countryside to an untouched dive site only accessible by foot does sound exciting, how will you get out if, for example, someone sprains an ankle?
Whoever you decide to take your course with, don't be afraid to ask questions. Any good instructor will take the time to reply to you and help you out ahead of time.
Hopefully this has helped answer some questions about how to chose your freediving instructor or coach. If you need any further information please do get in touch, either by visiting our website, on Facebook or via WhatsApp (contact details here).
We would love to have you along on one of our courses, trainings or excursions, and share what Ibiza has to offer!