Being a Freediving Instructor and Competitive Athlete is a balancing act; there is room for you to become both in this sport. 

Freediving is still a young but safe sport. The first records became official with the creation of CMAS (1959) in the early ‘60s, and competition rules appeared with the creation of AIDA in the ‘90s.

The sport is still developing in terms of the number of people practicing it, and we can see some freediving dedicated equipment brands emerging and growing. 

There are brands that have begun to sponsor some athletes to a certain extent, but it is still pretty hard to find funding if you do not spend your time exposing yourself on social media and becoming your “own brand.”

In other sports, you get a lot of followers because you are very good, and that brings you exposure. In freediving, however, you need to create your own exposure. 

This is definitely a timely and special investment, and I chose another way to support my career as an athlete. It took me a long time to see myself as an athlete that could achieve great performances.

I always saw myself as a freediving instructor and developed my teaching and coaching skills more than my social media skills. 

To support myself, I decided to have my own freediving shop. It started in 2015 with Freedive HQ in the Philippines, and I am now setting up another one, still in the Philippines, Camotes Freediving. This leads to some compromises with my athlete career. 

This year, as the shop is just opening, I will not be able to compete as much. Probably a couple of competitions in the Philippines if I can. I see this as an investment for the future as having your own freediving shop presents excellent advantages in terms of training. 

You create your own setup and can train exactly the way you want. I am planning to have my own platform in Camotes Freediving. Of course, it will be amazing in terms of business to attract people who want to dive into a platform and be able to organize competitions. It will also be great for my own training.

I can even say it is my main motivation for the platform, training myself in the best possible conditions! It took me a while in Freedive HQ before I was able to train a lot for myself, but it eventually happened. In this new project, I made sure I could train properly from the start.

There are many things to consider when managing a dive shop, and it was a great mental exercise in the first couple of years, how to make “the switch” and be fully in my training sessions, leaving all the problems I had to fix at the shop, and not bring them in the water with me. 

It’s not easy when you are on your own boat with all these students, and you know that you must prepare the bill for a certain student. Then you have another student that wants a different accommodation and a boat you need to put on dry in the following days for repair.

There are other things that also need your attention, such as salaries to pay in 3 days, emails that you do not have time to answer this morning, and an inspection by the fire department in the afternoon.

All of these are priorities but can become meddlesome when you need to handle one after the other. At one point, you learn to do “the switch.”

As soon as you get in the water, you are here only for the session, focused and enjoying your training time without thinking about what was before and what is coming after.

Can you see the similarities with going on the line during a competition? You have to be right here, right now, and nothing else should matter. 

So while it takes a lot of time and energy, I feel like having your own freediving shop is very fulfilling, and I would rather spend my time promoting it than promoting myself as an athlete (which makes me less uncomfortable too). I also see it as a more sustainable way of making a living. Once my career as an athlete is over, I will still have my shop.

Finally, I love teaching beginners and sharing my love of freediving, and after two years of the pandemic with minimal teaching, I was missing it a lot.

When I started doing it, I also began competing, and it was sometimes frustrating in the very busy periods when I was teaching and would instead be training myself. 

With time, I learned to balance it and not be frustrated by being fully in the moment I am doing. As a freediving instructor, I fully dedicate myself to my students, and their progress is rewarding enough.

When I am a competitive athlete, I am fully in training and leave all the rest of my worries outside of the water.


Thibault Guignes

Based in Phillipines, Thibault is the owner of Camotes Freediving and holds the French record in Free Immersion (117m).

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