Surf Survival

Mandy and Kirk in Red Bull athlete training camp.

Mandy and Kirk in Red Bull athlete training camp.


The PFI Breath-Hold Surf Survival Course is specially designed for big-wave surfers, kayakers, and other aquatic specialists to not only learn basic breath-hold skills, but also that of breath-hold propulsion, safety and problem management, and basic life support skills when training in remote areas. Develop breathing techniques for when you have minutes to prep for a breath-hold and for when you only have a moment before a wave comes and you’re underwater. Feel contractions and learn to feel comfortable with that urge to breath or "air starvation" feeling. You’ll learn to understand the psychology of stress and also the physiological responses that create it. Learn to better, or simply maintain, valuable breath-hold and comfort skills to survive a 60-foot fall off a big wave or a drop off a waterfall in your kayak. You’ll partner up for safe and effective training as maintenance during the down-season or in preparation for that extreme adventure just around the corner.

Some of the topics covered in the PFI Breath-Hold Surf Survival program are:
• Safety & Problem Management for big surf or hazardous water conditions
• Breath-hold Concepts and Physiology
• Breath-hold Training (Apnea)
• Breath-hold Stress Training (Hazardous water condition simulations)
• Gearless Underwater Propulsion Techniques
• Psychology of Stress
• Breath-hold Training Programs


• You practice, or are interested in, aquatic activities that take place in hazardous water conditions (big surf, strong currents, rapids, waterfalls, etc.)
• You’re interested in learning the risks, safety, and problem management correlated with breath-holding
• You’d like to learn to hold your breath between 2-5 minutes
• You’d like to learn to hold your breath comfortably with only seconds to prepare
• You’re not sure of extended breath-holding physiology or the physics that affect you when you’re underwater and want to know the details
• You want to become more comfortable at depth
• You want to be more comfortable in a wave or hydraulic hold-down situation
• You’re in good health and fitness—check the PFI Medical Form

Download and review the PFI medical form. If you say YES to any questions, you need to get a doctor's approval to take part in the course. Email if you have any questions about the medical form.


This course is taught by highly trained PFI Instructors at locations all over the world. The PFI Breath-Hold Surf Survival course includes:
• Classroom Sessions
• 2-3 Confined-Water sessions (dependent on location)
• 2-3 Open-Water sessions (dependent on location)

The schedule and layout/order of these sessions vary slightly by location. The program is typically run over 4 days. Click the link on any particular course to find the exact schedule for that program.


• You’re comfortable in the ocean
• You’re able to swim 100 yards with only a swimsuit and goggles
• You are able to tread water for five minutes
• Good health and fitness—check the PFI Medical Form
• 12 years of age with guardian permission


For this course, each student is responsible for bringing his or her own equipment.

• Mask, snorkel, and fins
• Full wetsuit (3mm for warm water locations; 5-7mm for cold water locations)
• Weight belt


PFI Breath-Hold Surf Survival course prices vary by location and instructor but start at $745. The tuition price covers the following:
• Personalized instruction from highly trained apnea specialists, national and world record holders, and/or trainers
• 1 Instructor/Assistant : 6 student divers ratio (in water)
• PFI Issued Student Manual
• Classroom Sessions with detailed knowledge development taught by freediving experts
• Confined-Water Sessions
• Open-Water Sessions
• Hands-on experience with specialty freediving equipment
• PFI T-Shirt—varies with instructor
• Certification card

If a boat is required for open water sessions at your location, a boat fee may be required in addition to the course tuition. This fee, if applicable, will be described on specific course location pages.


See our upcoming courses page for more information on when and where courses are happening. You can also contact a PFI Instructor directly if you don’t see a course that fits your schedule. Not all programs are posted on this website.


To secure your spot in a course, we need to receive your registration and either a 50% deposit or full payment. Any outstanding course balance is due by the start of the course. See our course schedule to register.