The AquaMan Effect:
A freediving frenzy in today’s pop culture
Over the last few years, we’ve seen an incredible shift in the prevalence of freediving throughout mass media. From music videos by superstars to the film and liquor industries, there is no denying the watersport has gone mainstream, continuously receiving great interest from the public. As millions of eyes are starting to take in this content on a regular basis, the regulation and governing institutions behind freediving are simultaneously catching up with speed.
Just three years ago, world-renown, award-winning artist Beyoncé collaborated with singer Arrow Benjamin in the track Runnin’ (Lose It All), attracting an audience of more than 300 million to their featured music video. At the time, the United States Freediving Federation was not yet in place – but the public’s fascination was. The demand behind the music video’s initial popularity triggered the release of a “behind-the-scenes” look at the music video’s production, featuring commentary from the directors and professional freedivers Alice Modolo and Guillaume Néry. An additional 2 million viewers tuned-in to take a closer look at the breathtaking world of freediving.
Then in 2017, global brand Glenfiddich released a commercial that featured a freediving competition to promote their whiskey. Cenote Tequila didn’t shy away from producing their own commercial last March, showcasing an impressive demonstration of freediving as they built brand awareness around their product.
The third industry following along the freediving craze may just be taking notice, but you can be certain it’s about to kick it into high gear. In a month’s time, Warner Bros. Studio releases their latest film Aquaman, which turns towards the underwater world of the seven seas - and plenty of freediving by Jason Momoa in the title role. In the 1960s, the famous Sea Hunt television series grasped audience’s attention and brought tremendous awareness to the scubadiving community. Who’s to say Aquaman won’t provide that same rush for the sport of freediving?
Additionally, the highest grossing film of all time is set to make a comeback with a big splash in months to come. James Cameron, director of the Avatar series, just confirmed they officially wrapped up the principal shooting of Avatar 2 & Avatar 3. Most of the production details have been kept confidential and under wraps for the time being. But to fans’ delight, one of the only pieces of information that has been released is that the cast will take on a new, aquatic world and explore a very different environment in the Avatar series sequels.
From traditional news outlets to social media platforms, there is no arguing against the fact that mass media has enormous power and influence on our society. We trust the opinions of celebrities when it comes to the products we purchase, and tap into our Instagram accounts whenever we want to tune-in to the latest trends. When multiple industries place specific emphasis on a movement, there is no telling how far the influence will span.
As freediving takes center stage in American pop culture, the United States Freediving Federation finds itself in a unique position in the history of this watersport. Founded just this year, the USFF is the youngest member of the CMAS family, a prestigious global organization compromised of over 130 federations overseeing the development of all underwater activities and sport disciplines. The organization is making tremendous strides for the nation, holding the first CMAS-sanctioned freediving competition in the United States with the Hawai’i Cup of Freediving in Kailua-Kona this past August.
Although a governing body is relatively new to the United States, the freediving movement has taken the world by storm and a possible Olympic inclusion of the sport could be on the horizon. More and more international competitions are taking place, with hundreds of athletes from around the world gathering to participate in these events. It’s only a matter of time before we see this fully come together with an official approval by the International Olympic Committee.
Don’t hold your breath - with pop culture erupting and policy coming into place, the freediving community has made an impressive platform for itself and is definitely here to stay.