10+1 Essential Books for a Freediver's Library
Note that books on training are NOT a substitute for proper training by a certified instructor or for diving without a certified buddy.
Homo Delphinus the Dolphin within Man by Jacques Mayol
Jacques Mayol, considered the iconic founder of modern freediving, brings various elements of physiology, spirituality and philosophy with regards to his connection to the sea and dolphin in this coffee table sized book on freediving. It opens the door into the mind of one of the world's most famous freedivers who was the first to dive to 100m. This classic freediving book can be difficult to source and expensive at times, but it is worth doing an extensive online search for the title.
One Breath: Freediving, Death, and the Quest to Shatter Human Limits by Adam Skolnick
This book offers a fascinating look at the world of competitive freediving while weaving in and out of the story of Nick Melvoli, the first and only freediver to die in a competitive freediving setting. It pays homage to Nick, while exploring some complex and difficult questions faced in the sport surround injuries and risk. A must read for anyone interested in competitive freediving.
Oxygen: A Memoir by William Trubridge
Follow the story and journey of William Trubridge on his quest to become the first human to dive to 100m unassisted. From childhood, to personal philosophies, to developing his own training methods to overcoming multiple failures along the way, William tells the story in his own words. His 102m Constant Weight No Fins World Record set in 2016 still stands today.
Longer and Deeper: cross training for freediving and spearfishing by Jaap Verbaas
This Canadian freediving book provides an easy-to-read look at training methods when you're out of the pool or unable to access water. It covers a range of topics from sport physiology to dealing with contractions to staying fit during the times you cannot dive. A great resource for the pandemic-quarantined freediver!
Manual of Freediving: Underwater on a Single Breath by Umberto Pelizzari and Stefano Tovaglieri
One of the original freediving manuals with extensive details for training, technique and approaches to freediving, meant to supplement the certified freediver. Originally translated from Italian by William Trubridge. This book dives into lots of detail and can be tricky to follow at times. The 2016 second edition is widely considered an update to the first edition of 2004 with lots of overlap but remains a great resource for freedivers interested in the details of various aspects of freediving.
SPECIFIC TRAINING FOR FREEDIVING DEEP, STATIC AND DYNAMIC APNEA by Umberto Pelizzari
If the Manual of Freediving is a general book on freediving theory, technique and traning, this other book by Pelizzari is a must for the freediving looking to hone their skills in a particular discipline. It covers detailed training topics, approaches, tips and exercises with specific references to freediving disciplines that might be of most interest to you. It contains an extensive discussion on various equalization methods and interviews with top freedivers and their training approaches/philosophies. A great and relevant read for the competitive or training-inclined freediver.
Depths by Guillaume Néry
This 2015 book written by French world record holding freediver Guillaume Néry was recently translated into english. If books about technique and training aren't your thing then Néry's story about freediving as a philosophy and way of life will appeal to you (though it's not entirely void of training aspects, it is written by an athlete after all). Guillaume was the diver who dove to 139m instead of 129m due to an error in setting the dive line at the world championships in Cyprus in 2015 which ultimately led to his retirement from competitive freediving. Today he is better know for his beautiful, artistic and cinematic underwater films created with his partner Julie Gautier.
Bounce: Mozart, Federer, Picasso, Beckham, and the Science of Success by Mathew Syed
One of two non-freediving specific books in this list. Mathew Syed systematically dispels the notion that talent is innate or natural by systematic analysis of various performers at elite levels from sport to other disciplines. It really tells you that you too can achieve can reach your potential, that a freediver isn't 'born with it'. Great general read and good motivator for those who struggle to improve their freediving or are looking for approaches for performing at a higher (erm, deeper) level.
10% Happier Revised Edition: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works--A True Story by Dan Harris
Don't let the fluffy subtitle put you off. Dan Harris takes you through his self-help journey of learning and accepting meditation to live a reduced-stressed life. This book is an easy and often fun read as Dan tries a range of things, sometimes with hilarious results. It demystifies meditation and makes it accessible for everyone, so it becomes a great resource for freedivers looking to integrate meditation and visualization into their practice. Failing that, it's a really timely read given everyone's lives being put on hold.
Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do by Wallce J. Nichols
We're all drawn to water in one way or another. We all feel a connection to the ocean and find comfort in our watery home. Wallace J Nichols explores the why and how behind our relationship with water. If you're curious about why water is so soothing, why you're drawn to it, then this book is right up your stream, so to speak.
The Unnatural History of the Sea by Dr. Callum Roberts
This is the +1 book of this list because no freediver should be ignorant of the plight of the oceans that covers 71% of our planet. As freedivers who enjoy playing in the ocean, we must also be its steward and advocate. Callum Roberts weaves an extremely well written account of humankind's historical relationship with the natural resources of the oceans that is a must read for everyone but especially those who call coastlines our home and the ocean our playground. The prose and quality of writing does not disappoint.