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Apnea Academy Educational System


I notice huge surge of interest in freediving all over the world in the recent years, but in spite of it I guess that we are only at the beginning. Manufactures of diving equipment responded to rocket boom of freediving, which becomes a recreational sport for everybody. Freediving starts to be interesting from the perspective of commercial education, travelling, trainings and racing. Number of freediving centres grows rapidly, there are more and more instructors and new educational systems arise...


Arising systems seeking for their market share are mostly commercially focused and their simple goal is so that students manage to complete a course during a few lessons, for example on vacation. Priority of traditional freediving schools is quality and safety training on the contrary. Apnea Academy educational system is just such a school. It was founded by 17fold world champion Umberto Pelizzari in 1995. Apnea Academy celebrates its twentieth anniversary this year.



Priorities are clear – to guide people interested in the underwater world safely and at the same time step by step through all difficulties of freediving, to motivate them for further development. Freediving is supposed to bring not only many beautiful and unforgettable experiences under water, but also to bring other „qualities“ to life, which are so necessary in today’s hasty times! And what qualities do we mean?

By means of relaxation techniques and better breathing techniques we support our ability regenerate and regulate stress burden faster. Thanks to mental burden that is characteristic for apnea it comes to better coping with stressful situations, to more relaxed attitude to life and to more efficient self-management in everyday life. Regular training and healthy food will help to increase efficiency and to achieve better overall condition...

As you feel, Apnea Academy is not a genuinely recreational system, it’s rather on the contrary. We believe that it is possible to build better on solid foundations and that the building is afterwards much more stable and resistant. Many top freedivers are also Apnea Academy instructors, for example Carlos Coste, Miguel Lozano, Sara Cambell, William Trubridge and others.




Apnea Academy educational system is taken for the most comprehensive freediving school in the world after twenty years of its existence. Education takes place in two levels.


BASIC COURSES: Backbone of the system is created by courses focused on mastering classical freediving disciplines and freediving in itself in their natural form. They are courses Indoor and Outdoor Freediver, Level I, Level II and the highest level of student certification Level III. For applicants with instructor ambitions we subsequently offer semi-professional certifications Assistant Instructor and an instructor course.

SPECIAL COURSES: They are a sort of superstructure, they help to achieve further growth and development of skills by examining the selected issue down to the last detail. Good examples are courses Mental Training, Rescue and Safety Freediver and Advanced Equalization (Equalization and pressurization techniques enabling deeper dives). Courses, in which we teach completely new skills, are also very popular, for example Basic Monofin Freediver (swimming with a monofin in the swimming pool), Advanced Monofin Freediver (swimming with a monofin on water) or Variable Weight & No Limits. You certainly know the attractive discipline No Limits from the film Big Blue. We do not forget even children, we prepared a Junior Freediver course for them. These special courses are allowed to be led only by instructors who completed the corresponding superstructure instructor course.

Apnea Discovery courses and so-called Stage courses stand outside the certification system. They have no fixed standards and they do not result in certification. An Apnea Discovery course is a quality tasting of freediving including also breathing and relaxation techniques. Stage are courses and events with various specialization at the discretion of the instructor. The most desired courses are DNF Stage (a course focused on swimming without fins) and DYN Bifin Stage (a course focused on training and correction of mistakes when kicking with long fins).


Apnea Academy training standards are significantly more demanding than other training standards. More hours of theory and practice will ensure that students will get maximum of knowledge and skills. Apnea Academy is not so frequent in genuinely commercial environment, perhaps because of greater time demandingness of training standards.

Characteristic feature of the training is that performance itself and value of sports results are not priorities for meeting standards of the courses and awarding the internationally valid certification. Safety and mastering proper breathing, relaxation and movement techniques in various disciplines are much more important. It is necessary to understand what happens to our body while we hold our breath, how to work with breathlessness and how to take a pleasure in diving.

Apnea Academy regularly organizes races on the recreational level, where students can try racing atmosphere and everything around it. Competition success is often motivation and a strong impulse for further training.




Training would not be full-value without theoretical basis. In 2001, Apnea Academy published a book Manual of Freediving – the first comprehensive material about freediving from A to Z. Subsequently it published other books and educational materials from renowned authors and instructors.

You can buy for instance Breathing and relaxation techniques, Pressurization for freedivers or Swimming with a monofin and you should not leave out books Physical preparation for freediving, Specific training in freediving, mental training under the name Deep Inside and others.


Beside sophisticated educational system, Apnea Academy is active in research as well. Our mother base in Italy cooperates closely with the DAN diving organisation on many projects. Research of creation of microbubbles during freediving belongs among the latest projects.



If you do not have much experience with freediving, it is worth starting from the very beginning. A weekend swimming pool course Indoor Freediver is the basic step to certification Level I and the best start. You can continue step by step up to the level that will satisfy you. Courses follow each other, but it makes no sense to hurry. When a course has finished, it is always necessary to train regularly for some time and let new abilities and skills gradually „ripen.“

Limits for granting certification are not excessive, which sometimes entices students to enrol directly to higher-level courses, which is not a very good option. It proved good for me to keep the following unwritten rule: not to hurry in freediving development and devote oneself to it regularly. You will achieve better and more lasting results like this.