Freedive Spearfishing Safety – Spearing Magazine

I got a phone call recently from a past student, Mack Matos.  He shared the story of how he recently saved his son from a blackout while spearfishing in the Bahamas.  His son was struggling to pull out a grouper around 65ft and on the way up he asked for help.  The father dove down, grabbed him around 20ft and took him to the surface. The son blacked out on the way to the surface.

There were some complications involved on the surface.  His son was using a belt reel which was attached to the grouper that was still at depth. There was not a quick release on the belt reel.  So he had his son on his back, but the line was going from the belt reel up and across the top of his body down the other side to the fish.  Due to the current, this was pulling his son underwater making it challenging to keep his airway above the water; which is the #1 rule in a rescue scenario.   He had to swim directly over the fish to get enough slack in the line to keep the airway above the surface.  Even in the middle of all of that chaos, he was able to keep the airway up, remove his mask and blow across his eyes.  His son came around quite quickly and like many blackouts didn’t think he had had a blackout.

I had the father on my Ted Talks Freediving Episode  #11 which I do every Tuesday at 7:00 PM EST live on Instagram (@ImmersionFD).   During the show he discussed that before he had taken my class, he was doing the old school safety method, two guys jump in the water and immediately go opposite directions.  Which is no safety method at all.

If he had not been at the surface watching his son, he would never have seen him ask for help and wouldn’t have known to go down to get him.  If he had been 50ft down the reef and not watching, this is what would have likely happened.  The son would have surfaced, and then the current would have started pushing him down the reef, and the line would have pulled him underwater.  So there would only be a brief period where he would have even been visible on the surface.

Everyone thinks blackouts won’t happen to them. Everyone says I’ll just come up before I would blackout, I don’t push myself, I know my limits, I’m in tune with my body.   If you would like to learn the fallacy of this argument, which is based on physics, I have a free online course that discusses this in more detail, you can see it at:


Just because you have never had a blackout doesn’t mean you are immune to blackouts in the future. If you jumped out of airplanes for 5 years and never had to use your reserve parachute would you quit taking it? Of course not because you don’t want to go splat.

When your buddy is diving, you need to be 100% focused on their safety and be there for them at the surface.  If you are unwilling to make sure your buddy is going to be safe because you are too worried about getting your fish, that is the definition of selfish behavior and quoting Jeromy Gamble, “How much fun is it to be around selfish people…exactly. ”

Every time you get in the boat, you choose who you are diving with.   Dive with people who think your safety is more important than their fish. He who lives the longest; catches the most fish.   It’s hashtag simple.




Dive safe it’s not even that hard!