Organizing Your First Freediving Competition: Tips for Success

Organizing Your First Freediving Competition: Tips for Success
By Thibault Guignés

Freediving is a mesmerizing sport that captivates more and more people around the world. Organizing a freediving competition can be a rewarding way to unite the community, challenge participants, and share the beauty of the underwater world. If you're considering organizing your first freediving competition, I'm sharing my experience as a competition organizer in this guide, and I'll try to provide you with valuable tips and insights to ensure a successful event.

Define Your Vision

The first step to organizing a competition is to define your vision of the competition.

Selecting a venue

You must choose the right venue for your freediving competition. Consider factors like:
  • Accessibility
  • Safety
  • Depth
  • Water conditions
Coastal areas, lakes, and quarries are popular choices. In my case, I did not have to look very far as I set up my freediving shop on Camotes Island in the Philippines with this purpose in mind. Ensure that your chosen location aligns with the competition types you plan to offer, whether it's static apnea, dynamic apnea, or depth disciplines. In my case, it was depth competitions: access to depth, consistency of the water conditions, and access to medical facilities (especially to a decompression chamber) were very important criteria.

Setting goals

Establish clear goals for your competition. Do you want to create a friendly, community-focused event or aim for a high-level competition that attracts professional freedivers? Having a vision will guide your decisions throughout the planning process. I believe freediving is a young sport, and mixing both types of participants is possible and even a good thing. How cool is it if, for your first competition, you can compete on the same line as Alexey Molchanov or Alessia Zecchini, as was the case for some athletes in our competition?

Legal and Safety Considerations

You must also take into account legal and safety considerations. Do not underestimate this part! It can be the most challenging and is usually outside your experience as a freediver.

Permits and regulations

Freediving competitions often require permits, especially in open water. Contact local authorities and obtain the necessary permits well in advance, and be aware of environmental regulations to ensure you're not causing harm to aquatic ecosystems. Plan ahead for a long time - it can take days to months to get the right paperwork. Also, make sure you have a good working relationship with local authorities. Their support will usually ensure that the process will go smoothly. Involve and inform them with each step.

Safety protocols

Safety should always be your top priority. Develop comprehensive safety protocols, including emergency response plans, communication systems, and medical support. Work closely with experienced safety divers and personnel who are familiar with freediving-specific safety procedures.

AIDA and CMAS both have proposed guidelines to help you. They’ll also inspect your setups prior to the event and will be able to provide valuable advice and tips. If it’s your first competition, and you don’t have the experience - ask for help from people who do.


Obtain event insurance to cover potential liabilities. Ensure that both participants and organizers are adequately covered in case of accidents or injuries. This can be very hard to find, so the best is usually to ask competitors to have their own insurance.

Financial Planning

Financial planning is also essential for organizing competitions. Of course, you want to promote the sport and your freediving school, but you also need to make a living, so you want to make money out of competitions.


Create a detailed budget that covers all expenses, including permits, equipment rental, safety personnel, medics, O, marketing, and awards. Make sure your income sources, such as registration fees and sponsorships, are sufficient to cover these costs.

Sponsorships and fundraising

Seek sponsorships from local businesses, dive shops, and brands related to the sport. Fundraising events, crowdfunding campaigns, and merchandise sales can also help secure additional funds.

Registration fees

Determine the registration fees for participants. Consider offering early-bird discounts to encourage early sign-ups. The fees should cover event expenses and potentially contribute to future competitions or community initiatives.

Marketing and Promotion

Marketing and promotion are also part of organizing a competition. Without the proper funding - no competition. And for this, you need to secure registrations in advance.

Building a website

Create a user-friendly website with information about the competition, registration details, rules, and frequently asked questions. The website should serve as the central hub for participants and spectators to get all the necessary information. That can also be a page on your existing website that is dedicated to the competitions.

Social media

Leverage social media platforms to build excitement and engage with your target audience. Share regular updates, behind-the-scenes content, and participant spotlights. Utilize relevant hashtags and collaborate with influencers in the freediving community to expand your reach. Nowadays, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok are a must, but depending on your targets, you might need to expand your horizons (WeChat for China, KakaoTalk for Korea, etc.)


Partner with other freediving shops, underwater photographers, and environmental organizations. Collaborative efforts can help you tap into their networks, gain exposure, and potentially secure additional resources. In our case, we always like to support a cause and give people the opportunity to donate to this cause. Also, all the money from the protests usually goes toward this cause. In Camotes, we support the Camotes Aspin Project, which takes care of stray dogs on the island.

Logistics and Equipment

Like any event, you must handle logistics and equipment in freediving competitions.

Event timeline

Create a detailed event timeline that includes setup, registration, competition rounds, safety drills, and breakdown. Stick to this schedule to ensure a smooth flow on the competition day. You should also be ready to adapt and have backup plans for the weather and conditions - or anything else that you have no control of.

Safety divers and medical personnel

Enlist experienced safety divers and medical personnel who are well-versed in freediving safety procedures. Their expertise is crucial for preventing accidents and responding to emergencies effectively. For your first organized competition, make sure your Head of Safety, medics, and judges have a lot of experience so that you can rely on them to fill the gap if you’re out of your depth.

Experienced Organizers and Safety Divers

For your first organized competition, you absolutely must benefit from experienced organizers and safety divers.


Reach out to experienced freediving event organizers for guidance and mentorship. They can provide invaluable insights, share their best practices, and help you avoid common pitfalls. I’m very grateful to John Folkvord and Oliver from Freedive SuperHOME who accepted to come as a judge, Head of Safety, and co-organizer of our first competition. They shared their valuable experience and taught me how to organize a competition along the way. I also asked for advice from other organizers, such as Julia Mouce and Andrea Zuccari, which was really helpful.

Safety diver team

Collaborate with an experienced safety diver team that understands the specific challenges of freediving. Their presence ensures that participants can explore their limits with confidence. Over time, you’ll get your own recurring safety team, but for the first one, make sure the team has extensive experience. I would also advise you to pay them (properly) so that you can get excellent safety divers coming to each of your competitions.

Registration and Participant Management

Registration and participant management is one of the key aspects to handle if you want to have happy competitors that will keep coming back.

Online registration

Streamline the registration process by offering online registration through your website. Use a reliable registration platform that allows participants to submit their details, sign waivers, and make payments online. A well-built Google Form can also do the trick.

Waivers and medical forms

Require participants to complete waivers and medical forms to ensure they are fit for freediving. These forms should include emergency contact information and medical history. Have them printed in advance.

Communicating with participants

Maintain clear and consistent communication with participants through email updates, newsletters, and social media. Address their questions promptly and provide any necessary pre-event information. A well-organized and complete competition briefing one or two days before the competition will also allow you to address all these questions and present your setup, logistics, and safety rules to all the competitors. This way, you won’t have to address as many questions later during the competition.

The event day is here - now, you need to make sure they run smoothly.

Competition Day


Have a smooth check-in process on the competition day with someone dedicated specifically to checking in athletes. It has now become customary to take competitors’ oxygen saturation in the morning during the check-in process to have a comparison with the oxygen saturation after the dives. Make sure you have a printed start list with the Official Top times in the check-in area. Athletes are required to check in at least 1 hour prior to their dives and sign the start list.

Running the competition

Efficiently manage the competition, ensuring participants have the necessary rest between dives and the event adheres to the predetermined schedule. Maintain constant communication with safety personnel.

Awards and Celebrations

The awards and celebrations part is not to be neglected. A big part of competitions is socializing, meeting new people, and having fun. And for this, a great awards ceremony and well-organized after-competition party are a must.

Award categories

Designate award categories and trophies for winners. Consider recognizing not only performance but also sportsmanship, enthusiasm, and special achievements. We like to give awards to the best newcomers, people who had only white cards, people who had the best spirit, etc. Remember that not everyone is here to break records! Also, use this time to thank sponsors, safety divers, and volunteers who contributed to the event's success.

After-competition party

Host a real party - that’s what most people will actually remember (or not)! And if they have the time of their life, they will come back - at least for the party!

Plan for the Future

Once the competition is over, my advice would be to rest and recover from the party. But after that, your job is not fully over. It was your first competition - a test, really. Now, it’s time to evaluate and plan for the future.

Feedback and improvement

Collect feedback from participants and volunteers to identify areas for improvement. Use this feedback to make necessary adjustments for future competitions.

Sustainability and legacy

Consider the environmental impact of your event and explore ways to minimize it. Additionally, think about how your competition can contribute positively to the freediving community and leave a lasting legacy.


To conclude, organizing your first freediving competition can be a challenging but immensely rewarding experience. By carefully planning, prioritizing safety, seeking guidance from experienced organizers, and fostering a sense of community, you can create an event that not only showcases the beauty of freediving but also brings enthusiasts together for unforgettable underwater adventures. Remember that each competition is a learning experience, and as you gain more experience, your future events will only get better.

Be ready for the stress of your life, but it is definitely worth it!

Check out Thibault’s school in Camotes, Philippines, where he holds international freediving competitions and provides a full range of Molchanovs courses and training/coaching sessions.

Instagram: @camotesfreediving
Facebook: @CamotesFreediving

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