So here are the 5 best ways to prepare for your AIDA2 Freediver course (and can also be applicable to AIDA1 Introduction to Freediving too):
This is the biggest one. How will you be able to be relaxed in the water and focus on learning freediving if you are scared or worried by just being in the water? There is already a lot to learn about technique in freediving without your attention being mainly on trying to stay afloat or stress from having water touching your face. So be realistic about your ability. If you go to the pool for a pool party and stand in the shallow end with a drink in your hand, this doesn't count as training or being a swimmer! You don't have to be an olympic level swimmer to freedive but being able to stay afloat without panic and swim continuously for 5-10 minutes can make a huge difference for a trainee freediver.
(AIDA1 has a swim requirement of 100m, AIDA2 has a swim requirement of 200m, both are non-stop swimming, any stroke, no time limit)
2). Practice Relaxed Breathing:
Breathing is the foundation of freediving. On the course you will learn the correct breathing for freediving, and how you can control your breath. Remember, we can control how we breath, whether it is fast or slow or deep or shallow. Start by lying down comfortably and breathing relaxed but a little deeper (always through the mouth!), so that when you breathe in, you feel the diaphragm muscle move down into the space where our stomach is (hence why we call this 'belly breathing'). Try this and feel how your heart rate will slow and you can practice relaxing all the muscles of your body at the same time, creating a calm and relaxed state (which is also great for stress relief!)
3). Feel the 'Urge to Breathe':
Doing a dry breath hold following on from the relaxed breathing, explained above, is a safe way to feel what signals our body will give us when it tells us it wants to breathe again. So take a big, full breath after a couple of minutes of the relaxed breathing and try holding until you feel the diaphragm (breathing muscle) start to contract and moving a little bit or you feel a warm sensation there. This is the urge to breathe and although we can safely hold beyond this urge, we are not used to experiencing this sensation or challenging it ever in our lives, so this will feel new. Before the course you can experience this and try holding 5-15 seconds (count down in your head) after you first feel it and see how you are still perfectly ok afterwards. This type of practice then, is great mental and physical training for the urge to breathe we feel as a freediver!
4). Practice Ear Equalisation:
Ear equalisation is the most challenging part of freediving for beginners as it is something we rarely do ever in our day to day lives! Chances are, even if you are a scuba diver you are doing it inefficiently as they only teach the very basics of it on a scuba course. On the freediving course you will learn about doing ear equalisation correctly and efficiently for freediving, but most people will benefit greatly from practicing and training this in the weeks and months leading up to the course. You will be provided with guidance on this in by your instructor in preparation for the course, but start by looking up Frenzel equalisation technique and Valsalva Maneuver (us freedivers want to do FRENZEL as it is much more efficient).
5). Read the Course Manual:
Once you are signed up for the freediving course you will receive access to the relevant AIDA freediving course manual. It goes without saying that by reading this before the course starts you will be in a better position to understand the concepts once they are explained to you by the instructor during the course. Also, you can test your knowledge of the manual by answering the test questions at the end of each chapter. Most beginners are surprised how much theory there is to know in freediving. There is a 100+ page manual for EACH level (AIDA2, AIDA3, AIDA4), introducing new concepts to help you dive deeper, although the foundation knowledge comes on the first level course (AIDA2).
It goes without saying that these 5 tips alone do not make you a safe and competent freediver and definitely do not replace taking the freediving course! But with these 5 steps you can ensure you are prepared and ready to experience your adventure with One Breath Freediving!