DEEP DIVE INTO THE SHALLOW END (WHY FREEDIVING INFLUENCERS SINK AS TEACHERS)
Disclaimer: This blog post does not reflect the expertise or opinions of all freediving influencers. A few influencers may indeed be knowledgeable and experienced teachers.
Behold Of The Instagram Freediving Instructor
Freediving, the art of exploring the depths of the ocean with a single breath. It’s a mesmerizing world, where gravity and buoyancy engage in a captivating dance. Now, imagine this magical realm infiltrated by influencers — those social media stars who claim to be experts in every field known to mankind.
To me, this happening is not surprising, as I witnessed it with yoga many years ago and I actually predicted that freediving also would receive the influencer treatment at some point. As a seasoned teacher with over a decade of experience in multiple fields that have been tarnished by social media and its influencers, let’s explore some of the reasons why the quality of teaching of an influencer turned freediving instructor is world apart from a genuine and authentic teacher who actually cares more about helping you grow as a freediver than about growing his or her following on social media.
Insta-Diving Doesn't Equal Expertise.
One cannot discuss freediving influencers without addressing the quintessential pouty pose that adorns their social media feeds. While their perfect selfies might garner likes, it doesn’t mean they possess the knowledge and expertise to teach aspiring freedivers, even if they have completed a freediving instructor course (that usually takes a couple of days to complete) with a reputable organization like AIDA, PADI or SSI.
Posing for a quick photo doesn’t make one an expert in the intricacies of freediving, the same way a few single breath-holding attempts cannot replace years of training and knowledge. It’s like trying to become an astronaut by taking a selfie in a space-themed costume. You can’t help but wonder if they’ve spent more time practicing their “blue steel” gaze than honing their underwater and teaching skills.
To the non-initiated, they might look like sea gods or goddesses underwater but to the trained freediver the first things that come to eyes are how much their techniques need polishing. Kicking with bent knees, wearing a nose clip over a mask, looking down the line on a constant weight dive, or telling their followers that Valsalva is the equalization technique freedivers use to dive deeper, I have seen them all.
Equalizing Egos, Not Eardrums.
Speaking of teaching, let’s take ears equalization as an example, which is a crucial skill in freediving to ensure that your ears don’t succumb to the pressures of the deep.
Now, imagine a freediving influencer trying to teach you this delicate technique. They’d probably spent more time adjusting their inflated egos at 5–6m deep to have the best possible lighting for their photos than time underwater to understand the mechanics of ear equalization. It’s like taking singing lessons from a tone-deaf parrot — equally useless and painful.
These influencer instructors lack real life experience, teach from their freediving instructor manual (which by the way does not cover how to fix difficulties that a student can have), tick the boxes that are needed to get certified, and when their students cannot complete an exercise they make no effort or show any desire to walk an extra mile as teachers.
You might end up “failing” to reach the depth requirements needed to complete your freediving level 1 course and then having to reach out to a more experienced freediving instructor like myself or one of my peers to help you with the difficulties that your freediving influencer instructor could not help with or did not know how to.
The good news is that a genuine and experienced freediving instructor will be able to help you with such an issue. The not-so-good news is that most instructors will charge you for additional coached dives unless you are doing a course with someone like me who under certain conditions, allow his students to freedive and train with him free of charge.
Dolphin Flicks and Duck Faces.
We’ve all seen those freediving influencers striking their signature poses underwater, gracefully gliding through the currents with impeccable hair and pouty lips. But let’s face it, their primary talent lies in looking good, not necessarily in imparting knowledge.
When you spend more time perfecting your underwater duck-face selfie game than focusing on the needs of your students, it’s safe to say that teaching might not be your strong suit. While it’s amusing to watch these freediving influencers posing underwater, their dedication to self-promotion often outweighs their commitment to actual teaching.
If you want to perfect your duck faces, they’re the go-to gurus. However, if you genuinely seek to learn the art of freediving, it’s time to unfollow and explore the vast sea of real experts who often are spending more time in water polishing their freediving techniques and pedagogy than editing photos on Photoshop.
Shallow Knowledge in Deep Waters.
Freediving is as much a mental challenge as it is a physical one. A deep understanding of physiology, safety protocols, dive planning, and even psychology are paramount. Alas, what you learned in a freediving instructor course is not enough to become a master at these. You need to practice and experience freediving regularly for a very long time.
We’ve all seen those breathtaking underwater videos where freediving influencers seem to defy the laws of human physiology. They effortlessly hold their breath for extended periods while freediving gracefully with sea creatures. But remember, folks, what you see on social media isn’t always the whole story.
It’s all about the magic of editing and influencers turned freediving instructors are masters of the superficial. They know how to entertain, gather likes, and generate envy-inducing content, at times going as far as breaking the law to freedive with whales in countries where it is prohibited to do so. But when it comes to teaching the in-depth knowledge you need to explore the mysteries of freediving and help you turn into the best version of yourself as a freediver, they’re as clueless as a goldfish in a desert.
The Pressure to Impress.
Influencers thrive on presenting an image of perfection. However, the learning process in freediving often involves embracing your mistakes, pushing beyond your comfort zone, dealing with frustration, and cultivating a whole lot of patience. However, freediving influencers can’t let their audience know about these because people on social media want instant gratification. They like to believe that they can instantly become freedivers and do the same things they saw on Instagram without putting the work into it.
All teachers can instruct but not all instructors can teach.
Influencers turned freediving instructors may excel at captivating their followers with stunning visuals and dramatic underwater performances, but when it comes to teaching, they’re often found treading water. In their world, social media popularity takes precedence over genuine knowledge and teaching skills.
It is important to remember that true teaching goes beyond a visually stunning facade. Authentic freediving instruction requires a deep understanding of the practice, thoughtful guidance, and a genuine connection with one’s students.
Aspiring freedivers, if you genuinely desire to dive into the captivating depths of freediving, swim away from the influencers and seek guidance from real experienced teachers who have dedicated their lives to the art of freediving, who possess a true passion for teaching and who have looked beyond the glittering allure of the social media freediving circus.
Remember, the ocean doesn’t care about the number of likes or followers you have — it only cares about how well you can navigate its unfathomable depths.