AIDA Implements Methodology of Teaching Freediving to Non-sighted People

Published: 20/08/2018

AIDA instructors from Russia, Nikolay Kanivets and Konstantin Borisov, developed a Method of Teaching Freediving to Visually Challenged People. The authors volunteered their know-how and provided a course manual to be published under AIDA’s name.

Nikolay and Konstantin began working on it in 2014 when they invented the system designed for guiding a visually impaired person swimming along the bottom of a pool.
This system was tested as a part of the course with sighted students wearing blindfolds. The course included all stages of beginner freediving training: theory lessons, orientation in the building, warm ups and breathing exercises, use of equipment, static and dynamic water sessions.

In 2015 the first course with non-sighted students was organised. It showed that the thorough prior preparations were more helpful for the trainers than students. Orientation in the pool was a lot easier for visually challenged people than organisers had expected. The students didn’t need a lot of help, either in the pool or linguistically. Making changes to language such as avoiding phrases like ‘take a look’ or ‘I am going to show you’ were not particularly appreciated. What trainers should avoid however is using gesticulations while explaining things. The instructors found this fairly difficult and wearing a blindfold helps moderate the habit of gesticulating during speech.

In theory lessons, 3D models of the human ear or lungs were used instead of the usual visual aids such as drawings and gestures. The manuals were printed using Braille’s tactile writing system. The
preparation work lead to a curious conclusion applicable to sighted freedivers: blindfolded person will
swim a better dynamic than they usually do with open eyes, without realising it. This feature has been
successfully implemented in exercises for deeper relaxation using visual deprivation.

Since 2015, the Methodology of Teaching Freediving to Visually Challenged People has been used for courses organised in a number of Russian cities.
The first international course for non-sighted people took place in Latvian town Liepāja in 2017; it gathered 7 participants from Latvia, France and Russia.
The first course in open water was organised in Sweden in June 2018.

One of the students of the very first course of 2015 Mikhail Voitsekhovsky participated in a depth
competition in Russia in July 2018. In this video, he shares his perception of freediving followed by the story of how this project began told by Konstantin Borisov.

Video fragment is published at the permission of nonprofit organization White Cane.

Adding this Methodology to AIDA course materials was possible as a result of efforts of the Head of
AIDA Education Committee Brian Crossland who reviewed the document and had it approved by the Board, EC members Andrew Critchley who proof read and edited it, Sun Choi who did layout of the brochure and Elena Petrushina who coordinated the project.

The Methodology of Teaching Freediving to Visually Challenged People is now available in EOS for all active AIDA Instructors.