3 Tips for Breathing in Freefall

Friday, September 13, 2019

Your first skydive is destined to take your breath away – but not literally! Breathing in freefall is not only possible, it’s heckin’ necessary, and (if you’re a little nervous that you’ll be able to make that happen, what with all the newness and the butterflies and the 120MPH wind and the total elation coursing through your bloodstream at a million miles an hour) we’re here to help. As it turns out, the idea of not being able to breathe in freefall is 99% misconception, 1% behavioral awareness. Remember this, dear reader: Sport skydivers (like yours truly, and the passionate team here at Skydive Monroe) consider the sky to be a second home. We certainly couldn’t feel that way if it were actually impossible to breathe while skydiving! Here’s why — and how.

skydiving freefall

Where The Myth Comes From

The myth probably arises from the fact that scientifically speaking, the air is not as rich at altitude as it is on the ground. In fact, the air up there is about 40% less oxygen-rich than the air in the landing area. 

This is further complicated by the fact that the ground might be in, y’know, a different place. For example: If the landing area/takeoff point sits at a higher elevation, the total oxygen concentration drops correspondingly. We’re snuggled nice and close to sea level over here at Skydive Monroe, clocking in at about 900 feet above sea level. (Compare that to Mile-Hi Skydiving in Longmont, Colorado, which sits up at a breathless, mountainous 5,055 feet!) Because skydiving exit altitudes above ground level are pretty standard, you can see how jumpers at higher-elevation dropzones could feel a little, well, dizzy up at those heights.

Breathing in Freefall

The Zen Way To Handle It 

Even at a lower-altitude dropzone, your super-excited body is probably to feel the reduced amount of oxygen available to you. Don’t worry — there’s a simple, totally blissed-out solution to the problem: breathe like a guru! The strategy works like this: If there’s 40% less oxygen, you should try to breathe 40% deeper. It’s not, like, super-scientific and/or mathematically sound, but it works in practice, and simply requires you to put more thought into breathing – which will have the extra superpower of promoting mindfulness at just about the time you’re about to lose yours.

The Totally Not-Zen Way To Handle It

Want to know a secret? Here goes: The number-one reason that first-time tandem skydivers have trouble breathing during their skydive is because they forget! That might sound crazy, but we are talking about an extremely intense, moment-of-a-lifetime vibe. It’s understandable.

To jog the ol’ memory, we have a trick: We encourage our tandem students to scream as they leave the aircraft. LOUD. As loudly as they possibly can. The exhalation it takes to pull off a truly epic rebel yell kick-starts breathing and reminds a student that they sure’s-heck can breathe while hurtling through the firmament at terminal velocity. And it’s fun!

tandem skydiving at Skydive Monroe

Relax Into Your Newfound Freedom

The root-level trick to breathing while in freefall – and, in general, enjoying any experience at all to its greatest extent – is really just relax into it, embracing the intensity. Let yourself sink into each moment and be truly present. If you can be here, now, completely, then you can rest assured that the breathing will happen on its own.

Are you ready to capture your first lungfuls of terminal-velocity oxygen? We’re ready to hear your very best freefall holler! Book your tandem skydive with us today.

first skydive jump