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Surprise Apnea for Surfers (breathhold training)

  • Sat, September 21, 2013
  • 10:00 AM - 3:00 PM
  • La Mesa


  • Email to register. Fee is $100.

Registration is closed

Freediving is the sport of diving as deep, as far or as long as possible on one single breath of air. It is an age-old activity with roots in ancient Polynesian, Japanese and Greek cultures, where freediving for pearls, shellfish and sponges was a way of surviving off the sea. Today freediving is an advanced competition sport with athletes pushing their physical boundaries into a realm where mental strength and deep-rooted mammalian responses keep them alive. The research done on freedivers and the training developed offers surfers a wealth of experience to be prepared for the kind of hold-downs experienced by surfers.


This one-day workshop is especially developed for surfers, using a training approach we call SURPRISE APNEA. Apnea is the Greek word for ‘the cessation of breathing’. We will combine physical and mental strength with relaxation techniques to prepare for any hold down, heavy sea or any challenge the ocean may throw at you.

The day will start with Yoga breathing exercises and warm-up. How to increase your lung capacity, breathing and relaxation techniques - the mind of freediving. This is followed by the theory - the specifics of what happens in the body when we hold our breath: diaphragmatic contractions, CO2 tolerance, the mammalian dive response, etc.

The breath hold session in the pool with cover the psychology of breath hold, understanding your physical experiences, pushing your limits. We will alternate between prepared breath holds for longer duration of time, and surprise apnea, mimicking the sensation of being held down under a wave with no preparation and no air in your lungs.

A written 8-week swim training program will be provided after the course.

Hanli Prinsloo is an eleven-times South African Freediving Record Holder, Filmmaker and avid Ocean Adventurer. Using freediving as a tool, Hanli has trained an array of top athletes from rugby players to swimmers and surfers - working with mental toughness, mind over body control and consciousness. 

The course will be taught in a private pool in La Mesa. Directions will be provided when you register with Hanli. Fee is $100. Only 5 spaces are available.


For more information and booking, please email and see for testimonials from Grant ‘Twiggy’ Baker, Chris Bertish, Andy Marr & more.

San Diego Surf Ladies is a 501(c)4 registered nonprofit. 

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