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INTO THE BLUE

The Sport Of Free Diving
Into the Blue is one of the first motion pictures to explore the popular sport of free diving — in which all the cast members were trained before filming began. Free diving is similar to snorkeling in that the swimmers wear snorkel masks but closer to scuba diving in that they voyage into deep water without the aid of an oxygen tank. Beginners can quickly dive into water as deep as 30 feet and for as long as 45 seconds.

On the more "extreme” level of competition, the current free diving records are in excess of 300 feet for longer than three minutes.

One of the appeals of free diving, say aficionados, is that it's an immensely pleasurable and serene experience. Wearing just a mask, snorkel, fins, wetsuit and weightbelt, it's an inexpensive and enjoyable way to swim alongside dolphins and schools of fish or snap a series of vivid underwater photos.

The training required is minimal and starts in a regular swimming pool with slow and deep breathing exercises in a horizontal position holding the pool's edge and advancing to a relaxed fetal position. After learning about breathing and underwater relaxation, free divers move on to the different fin strokes — a flutter, frog and dolphin kick. The flutter kick is what free divers use most of the time, with the frog kick reserved for relieving cramped or tired muscles. The dolphin kick is for short spurts of speed.

The next step in free diving is the surface dive, which can be simulated on a bed, by lying stomach down and balancing off the edge at waist level. Lowering one arm and raising the opposite leg, the weight shifts in a downward direction. Once in the water, the swimmer kicks forward to gain momentum. After some practice, free divers are able to descend vertically. After that maneuver has been mastered, the swimmer learns to streamline and economize while moving in the water.

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