Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Buddy System

The Buddy System
The buddy system is a set of safety procedures that improve freediver's chances of avoiding and surviving accidents in or underwater by diving in a group of two or three. This article will examine the different procedures used in buddy diving and their purpose.

How does it work ?
With buddy freediving, each of the freedivers is presumed to have responsibility to the other. The 'buddies' are expected to monitor each other, be close enough together during the end of each freedive to be able to help in an emergency, to behave safely and to follow the plan agreed by the group before the freedive. When diving with a buddy both buddies must be aware of each others capabilities and limitations in water and agree on:

1) The maximum depth for the freediving activity (which should not be too far from the maximum depth of the most inexperienced buddy).

2) The behavior of the buddy remaining on the surface during the other buddies dive (such as the depth at which the two will meet underwater).

Safety Freediving
When freediving to depths of over -20 meters, it is highly recommended to agree with your buddy on a certain depth at which the two of you will meet, a depth of -10 meters or slightly deeper is optimal. This is done for several reasons - as already mentioned in the physiology section, the greatest pressure changes occur in last 10 meters below the surface, if anything can go wrong - this is where it probably will, therefore having a buddy who can assist in a case of emergency is crucial. Meeting the buddy at the end of the freedive (which is the hardest part of the dive) also reassures and calms the freediver - helping him reach the surface more safely.

In general, the presence of another freediver in the water increases the freediver's feeling of well being and confidence in the water and enhances the safety of both of them.

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