No doubt by now you have seen the trailer for Narcose, a beautifully shot film by talented Julie Gautier with husband Guillaume Néry, world champion freediver.

South Africa has their own talented husband and wife team, John and Daniela Daines.

John is the current DYN South African record holder @ 175m AND current DNF South African record holder @ 150m and together they own Cape Town Freediving and Pure Apnea.

We got to talk to John on freediving and holding your breath.


YFS: What is Freediving?

JOHN: Freediving is the sport and recreational activity of diving, swimming or staying submerged underwater with only a single breath of air.


YFS: What is the current world champion breath hold time?

JOHN: The current world record for static breath hold is 11min 54sec held by Branko Petrovic.


YFS: Freediving is a very mentally focused sport and teaches you to overcome the need to breathe. Did that come easy to you?

JOHN: Holding my breath for a few minutes came easy to me, but getting my breath hold over 6 minutes required learning a lot in terms of physiology and different breath hold techniques.


YFS: How do you train out of the water?

JOHN: Training out of the water is called “dry training”.  The best dry training techniques are apnea walking and dry statics. Apnea walking involves walking set distances while holding ones breath. Optionally apnea walks can be turned into CO2 tolerance training by reducing rest times between the walks. Dry statics simply involve holding ones breath while lying on a yoga mat, couch or bed.


YFS: Do you practice yoga?

JOHN: Yes. Freedivers have borrowed numerous yoga techniques and incorporated them into freedive training, so in a way I’ve been practicing certain yoga techniques for almost 10 years now. Flexibility of the diaphragm, abdominal and intercostal muscles can  make a huge difference in deep freediving due to the pressure exerted on the body. Yoga also has breathing techniques which help lower the heart rate. I’ve only recently started practicing yoga in its original form with my wife Daniela who completed her yoga instructor training with Jim Harrington.


YFS: Pure Apnea runs a course called surf apnea alongside your freediving courses. 

Can you explain to the readers what this is about?

JOHN: Traditional freediving courses are designed to teach people how to prepare themselves to dive willingly underwater on one breath. These are controlled dives where the participants are willingly holding their breath and are therefore relaxed. Surf Apnea courses are aimed at preparing water users like surfers for unexpected breath holds, where they have little or no time to prepare for being held down by waves. There is a big difference between willingly holding ones breath while floating in the water, undisturbed and unexpectedly being held under by big waves, while being tossed around like a rag doll.  Surfers find themselves in seemingly life or death breath hold situations, but in reality are simply experiencing high CO2 levels in their bodies largely produced by panic. By equipping them with basic breath hold knowledge we remove the panic reflex and this allows for much easier breath holds out in the waves.


‘Freediving at its best, is the deepest form of meditation.  It requires immense focus, willpower and the ability to let go. Training the body is the easy part, it is training the mind that takes most of the work – true for almost anyone dedicating to a meditation practice’
– Daniela Daines – Yoga teacher, wife and Ocean spirit
Contact John and Daniela: