SCUBA stands for Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus and is the equipment that allows you to breath underwater effortlessly using a tank filled with compressed air. Divers are able to dive as deep as 130 feet/40 meters as recreational divers. Professional divers and 'Tec' divers often go even deeper with specialty training and equipment.
Before the advent of modern SCUBA gear, people used reeds as snorkels or held their breath. In the 1771, air pumps were developed to bring air from the surface to diver clad in thick leather suits and metal helmets below. By the 19th century, divers were beginning to take rudimentary tanks with them underwater. It wasn't until 1942 that modern SCUBA equipment as we know it today was developed by French engineer Emile Gagnan and French navy officer Jacques Cousteau.
Freediving is about discipline, control, and self-awareness. People have been freediving for thousands of years as a way to hunt for fish and gather sponges or pearls. Without the assistance of complicated SCUBA gear, freedivers train their bodies and minds to be able to hold their breaths for minutes at a time. Only using fins and a mask, freedivers can maneuver with amazing speed and agility just like the mermaids of myths.
The Greeks were masters of freediving and used their skill to harvest natural sea sponges from the ocean floor. It was from the Greek term 'apnoia' meaning 'without breath' that the term 'apnea' arose from. The Ama of Japan are an elite group of women who have harvested pearls for the last 2000 years. The Bajau people of South East Asia fish using freediving and are able to hold their breath for up to 13 minutes!