Exploring New Depths | Depth Wish Freediving

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Exploring New Depths | Depth Wish Freediving | Florida Springs Passport
What is freediving? You probably have seen numerous videos of it all over social media or watched the competitive side in previous documentaries. I had the opportunity to talk with Tanner Pedersen, PADI & AIDA freediving instructor, and Kenzie Milcarek, a certified freediver, and Florida Master Naturalist & Restoration Specialist, from Depth Wish Freediving about this fascinating and immersive water activity. Defined by these enthusiastic experts, “Freediving is the practice of exploring the underwater world in a single breath.” It is similar to scuba diving as it takes you beneath the surface of the water, but instead of using aluminum tanks full of air to breathe, you use the tanks of air already built inside your body…your lungs. Freediving allows you to make underwater exploration a more internal experience. When scuba diving, you rely on the gear to tell you what is going on, but with freediving, you are listening and relying on your body.


It is easy for people to think that humans aren’t meant to stay underwater powered by a single breath for an extended time. As a freediver, both recreational and competitive, Tanner explained that “90% of freediving is mental.” Kenzie passionately proclaimed, “We as humans are really built to do this sport. We’re built to be water people." A fun scientific fact Tanner shared was, “We as humans share the same physiological responses as dolphins, whales, and manatees when it comes to diving.” This is known as the mammalian dive reflex, which is how a mammal's body overrides the homeostatic reflex as it is submerged underwater, according to the National Library of Medicine. This means changes in key factors such as vascular constriction, spleen constriction, and the controlled onset of bradycardia.

 Kenzie Milcarek | Depth Wish Freediving | Florida Springs Passport

It can be misunderstood that in order to do this activity you have to be an incredibly physically fit athlete. That is simply not true! As we learned, our bodies were made to do this, it is literally built into our DNA! As Kenzie so brilliantly stated, “It is for everybody, but it's also for every body!” Tanner and Kenzie shared that they have had an array of students come through Depth Wish's training course. They have taught or trained with the average Joe to quadriplegics to people in their 70s to successfully and joyfully freedive.


Dive In with Depth Wish

Another common misconception, tied into the one about needing to be a superman of an athlete, is that freediving is an extreme sport. Diving in this manner is natural for our bodies to experience. We just need proper training to access it. For example, Depth Wish conducts a PADI level one freediving training in about two days. The first day involves some classroom learning, then you are in the pool practicing various breath-holding techniques and strategies for safe diving. By the second day, you are doing open-water diving! Tanner explained by the end of most lessons, people can hold their breath between 1 minute and 45 seconds to 3 minutes and dive as deep as 15 meters. Not everyone wants or needs to become a competitive freediver. Kenzie proudly boasts herself to be a professional “Turtle Whisperer,” more interested in seeing turtle friends than moving up and down the line. Tanner passionately stated, “It’s important that people find their reason to freedive and to find their reason to explore”.

 Depth Wish Freediving Offers the Following Courses:


Kenzie | Depth Wish Freediving | Florida Springs Passport

As a Florida springs lover and blogger for Florida Springs Passport, I’m always enthralled by the magic and beauty of these natural sapphire gems. I asked Tanner and Kenzie, what makes freediving the Florida springs so unique? Diving in the Florida springs is “the truest example of diving in the world’s purest waters.” The beauty and clarity of the Florida spring waters have captured people's attention over decades and centuries. And what is so special is where this water comes from. It powerfully pushes out from the aquifers deep beneath the earth's surface, past limestone, bubbling up this fresh, blue water. It’s no wonder so many Spanish explorers believed when they saw this, they thought they discovered the Fountain of Youth. Freediving offers you the opportunity to get a closer look at these carved spaces where the water gushes forth. Tanner perfectly described it as “diving in the Earth’s arteries or veins.” It was the experience of freediving in the Florida springs that inspired director Liam Tobin to create a short film with Tanner and Kenzie to show the day-to-day experiences of freediving while capturing the mythical essence of exploring the springs.


Freediving in the springs also gives you a chance to get closer to the wildlife in a more authentic way. Scuba diving is a great way to explore the underwater world, but the gear makes noises and creates bubbles while also giving you, the human, a more imposing presence. With freediving, you can be amongst the turtles, fish, and other aquatic life as a peaceful observer. Kenzie said her favorite thing about freediving is being able to “sit at the bottom of the spring and be a part of nature,” witnessing all the incredible creatures swimming around her.

"The Florida springs aren’t just pools for you to swim in, they are important to Florida’s ecosystem and home to so much wildlife." - Kenzie Milcarek

 Troy Springs | Depth Wish Freediving | Florida Springs Passport

I asked Tanner and Kenzie if they had a favorite Florida spring. Troy Springs happens to be one of Tanner’s favorites. This spring is known for the remnant of the steamboat, The Madison, that sank there during the Civil War. But Tanner loves this spring because of its unique auditorium structure with opportunities to dive deeper and the strong community of both freedivers and scuba divers there. Bronson Blue is a spring that holds a special place in Kenzie’s heart, because diving this spring is like “diving in an aquarium” with all its freshwater friends.


Learn More About Depth Wish

If this article and the inspiring words from these two remarkable people have piqued your interest, here’s some information on how to start your freediving journey. You can visit their website www.depthwishfreediving.com to book a training course. The PADI level 1, as mentioned earlier, is a two-day course. For gear, you can bring what you have, a scuba mask or a rash guard, but they also have a variety of gear you can rent and try out during your training. The company also hosts two community dive days a month that are free, welcoming all, experienced divers and new divers, to connect, learn, and explore. 


Depth wish Freediving | Troy Springs | Florida Springs Passport

Find Depth Wish Freediving on all Socials 


Perfectly said by the inspirational Tanner, “The water loves everyone the same, and it has so much to offer each individual.”

So now I ask you, reader, what is your Depth Wish? Do you wish to challenge yourself? Do you wish to learn more about your body and mind? Do you wish to explore and connect deeper with nature? Do you wish to join this incredible community?

The power to grant this wish…is inside you.


Keep your eyes peeled for the short film Puddle Jumper coming soon!



1 comment

  • Deborah Hedger

    Amazing article about an amazing company run by two beautiful individuals. I’ve known them since before Depthwish and to say they are an inspiration to me is not nearly enough. How many times do us adults want to quit the rat race of 9 to 5 and go do something we truly love? These two have done it and with beautiful style, love, and expertise. Anyone who wants to learn about Freediving from some people who truly love the sport, contact Depthwish.

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