Freediving Competition Safety

Part 2 – The Roles of the Safety Divers in Operational Procedures


The information provided is non-exhaustive and is only one example of procedures that have been tried and tested in a variety of competition settings. It is well documented that frequent errors have occurred in recent competition formats, primarily in the line setting. This document is simply one method in the mitigation of risk.

Safety Divers

The following images represent typical operational personnel and current competition platform design.

The safety divers are the response team to assist and deal with any problems that may be encountered by the competitor. The safety divers meet the competitor as they are returning to the surface from their dive. If a competitor has any difficulties the safety divers will swim them to the surface. The number of safety divers operating in the competition zone can range from 2 to 4. The roles of the safety divers are generally as follows:
Safety Diver #1 – Deep Safety. This diver will meet the returning competitor at approximately 1/3 of the competitors depth. That is, if the competitor goes to 120m, safety #1 will meet them at 40m depth and return with them. If the competitor goes to 90m then safety #1 will meet at 30m.
Safety Diver #2 – Shallow Safety. This diver will meet both the competitor and safety #1 at a slightly shallower depth. This is generally 10m shallower than safety #1. If the competitor goes to 120m, safety #2 will meet at 30m.
Safety Diver #3 – Surface Safety. This diver remains on the surface watching the returning competitor and safety divers. If the competitor encounters problems #3 will assist from the surface.
If at any stage the safety divers encounter problems of their own, they quickly change roles.
For example, safety diver #1 goes down and has trouble equalising their ears. They signal the surface and safety #2 now performs the role of deep safety. #3 will perform the role of shallow safety. #1 will return to the surface and perform surface assistance.

Additional Safety Diver roles

Once the judges decision is announced :
#2 – disconnects competitors lanyard
#1 & #2 – assist diver to platform
#2 – removes depth gauge and passes it to the judges
#3 – moves to the rope to assist in line adjustment
#1 – moves to the rear of the platform to assist in line adjustment as required
When the line is set by #3
#2 – performs a depth check with the in-water judge
#3 – may go to meet the next competitor at the edge of the zone.
#3 – repeats calls to the competitor as required. It is important #3 is on high alert at the start of the dive. If for some reason the safety lanyard disconnects at the start, #3 will chase and stop the competitor.
The competitor cannot access the competition rope until the judge announces “line is set, competitors line”
Safety Diver #3 is now #2. Safety Diver #2 is now #1 . Safety Diver #1 is now #3.
This allows #1, who just performed the deep safety to rest at the surface. This rotation is critical to maintain the freshness and strength of the team. If there are 4 safety divers, #4 generally rests to the side of the zone. #1 then becomes #4 and so forth.


Safety divers #1 & #2 are here showing they are not assisting the competitor after the end of the dive (not jazz hands). They are ready to react if the competitor encounters difficulty. They are all awaiting the judges official verdict.



The moment the judge’s announcement is made #1 & #2 quickly disconnect the competitor and assist them out of the zone. Safety #2 may quickly remove gauge and pass it to the platform judge. The line set is immediately commenced. The line setter controls the adjustment with the help of safety #3.


The dive line is then adjusted as required. In this case it is being lowered to 81m.



So Who checks the rope setting?

If we look closely at the above roles and descriptions, the following applies:
1. The line setter. Has an “approximate idea” with the line set.
2. The platform manager. Visual confirmation of the mark at the surface. Visual confirmation of the bottom plate assembly on sonar (if available). This may also be an approximate reading, however should confirm what they see at the surface.
3. Safety diver #3. Assists with the line adjustment. Confirms the marks at the surface.
4. Platform judge. Visual confirmation of the mark at the surface. Counts the numbers as they near the surface.
5. In-water judge. Goes down to confirm next major rope marking. If the dive line needs to be 76m, the judge goes down to the 70m marking. This should be 6m deep (confirmed by depth gauge).
6. Safety diver #2 . As above.
Note: Even with a skeleton crew, I.e. the line setter and platform manager are the same person and the platform judge doesn’t see the set because they are busy putting depth gauges on competitors – The minimum confirmation of depth will still be; the platform manager, the in-water judge and safety divers #3 and #2.
This is still 4 people….

Freedive Tulum freediving school logo 2


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s