2 Freedivers challenging each other representing the organisations AIDA and Molchanovs

AIDA and Molchanovs - You want to know the Difference?

You want to know which organisation to choose? Or just want to educate yourself about the freediving world? Then you are in the right spot!

Let’s dive into the  world of freediving education and check out two big institutions – AIDA vs. Molchanovs. We’ll explore where they came from, see how they’re different, and even compare what you need to succeed in their courses.

Whether you’re a pro diver or just curious about freediving, come along as we explore the ocean of info about AIDA and Molchanovs. Ready to dive in? Let’s go!

If you are here to learn about the course differences check out the Table.

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Introducing the organisations

Freediver diving next to Rocks

Let’s start our underwater journey by dipping our toes into the world of freediving education with two heavyweight contenders – AIDA and Molchanovs.

AIDA: The Pioneer in Freediving

a picture of the official AIDA Logo for Freediving courses

Ofiicial Logo von AIDA (International Association for the Development of Apnea)

AIDA, the global freediving organization, was born in 1992 to standardize rules and unite freedivers worldwide. Its democratic structure, led by an elected executive board, ensures fair representation. Committee volunteers and officers drive AIDA’s work, covering topics like education, competition disciplines, and technical aspects.

Today, AIDA is the leading organizer of international freediving competitions, emphasizing continuous rule improvement. Beyond sport, AIDA promotes education, scientific studies, and environmental concerns.

AIDA unites freedivers globally, emphasizing safety, fun, and community. It’s not just a sports federation; it presents itstelf as a tribe showcasing the emotional depth and shared pleasures of freediving, fostering respect for the oceans.

As AIDA evolves, it seeks to highlight that freediving is more than records – it’s a world of emotions, friendships, and environmental respect. AIDA is the heart of a united community, shaping the future of the sport.

We were isolated. We are now united – thanks to AIDA. By maintaining its independence, AIDA protects the interests of freedivers while at the same time maintaining ongoing dialogue and a growing cooperation with both national and international diving federations.

source : https://www.aidainternational.org/About

Molchanovs: Where Science Meets Serenity

Official logo of Molchanovs

Dive into Molchanovs, a freediving haven with a global mission: share the love of underwater exploration. Founded by Natalia Molchanova, a freediving legend, and her son, Alexey Molchanov, the brand combines top-notch education with cutting-edge gear.

The Molchanovs movement, born in 2018, unites a global community of passionate freedivers. Access the latest education, training, challenges, and exclusive gear benefits in a supportive environment.

Headquartered in Singapore, Molchanovs boasts a comprehensive training system inspired by Natalia’s philosophies. Their gear, with three distinct lines, caters to every freediving need, from high-end  monofins to simple freediving masks. 

As a freediver, your growth in your freediving journey is important to us. Whether you want to develop your freediving education, require direction for your own personal training, or desire top-of-the-line freediving equipment, trust in the company that puts progress and safety first, developed by freedivers for freedivers.

source: https://molchanovs.com/pages/about-us-page

The Comparison

Alexey Molchanov 

AIDA vs. Molchanovs: Navigating Freediving Realms

Now that we know a little about both institutions, we can move along and compare them to see where the biggest differences lie and where similarities also exist.


AIDA’s Global Authority:

AIDA, founded in 1992, is an international federation primarily focused on standardizing rules, organizing competitions, and promoting safety. Other than Molchanovs it’s a democratic organization with elected leaders overseeing diverse committees. 

Molchanovs’ Gear and Community Focus:

Molchanovs, born from Natalia Molchanova’s legacy, founded by Alexey Molchanov, together with Chris Kim and Adam Stern (widely known in the freediving community for his YouTube videos on the topic – check it out here), officially launched Molchanovs in early 2018. with a strong emphasis on gear development and community building. It not only provides cutting-edge equipment but also fosters a global community through education and shared passion.
On the Molchanovs platform you can buy u
seful Online Courses to widen your freediving repertoire.

Shared Depths: AIDA and Molchanovs

In the expansive world of freediving, AIDA and Molchanovs share core principles. Both are fueled by a profound love for freediving, emphasizing safety, education, and a global sense of community. Despite differing approaches, their common thread lies in empowering divers with the skills for a secure and enjoyable underwater journey. Whether through AIDA’s international federation or Molchanovs’ brand-specific community, both entities cultivate a spirit of cameradery and mutual respect among freedivers.

Table of Course requirements

The logo of AIDA International Freediving Association
Discover Freediving
Wave 1
– 18 years or older,
– able to swim at least 100m non-stop
– able to swim at least 200m non
-stop in a pool,
– 1:30 minutes STA,
– 12-20 meters CWTB & FIM,
– 6-10 meters buddying CWTB,
– rescue from 6-10 meters
Freediving Course
Wave 2
– 18 years or older,
– able to swim at least 200m non-stop without fins and at least 300m non-stop with mask, fins and snorkel,
– 2 minutes STA,
– 40 meters DYN,
– 16 meters CWT (max. 20 meters),
– theoretical exam
– completed Wave 1 certificate, or Crossover Evaluation,
– 2:30 minutes STA,
– 50 meters DYNB,
– 35 meters DNF,
– 24-30 meters CWTB & FIM,
– 15 meters CNF,
– 10-15 meters buddying CWTB,
– rescue from 15 meters
 Advanced Freediver
Wave 3
– completed the AIDA2 course or the AIDA2 Crossover Evaluation,
– 2:45 minutes STA,
– 55 meters DYN,
– 24 meters CWT (max. 30 meters),
– theoretical exam
– completed Wave 1 certificate, or Crossover Evaluation,
– 2:30 minutes STA,
– 50 meters DYNB,
– 35 meters DNF,
– 24-30 meters CWTB & FIM,
– 15 meters CNF,
– 10-15 meters buddying CWTB,
– rescue from 15 meters
 Master Freediver
Wave 4
– completed the AIDA3 course or the AIDA3 Crossover Evaluation,
– completed a course in First Aid with CPR within the last two years,
– 3:30 minutes STA,
– 70 meters DYN,
– 32 meters CWT (max. 40 meters),
– theoretical exam
– completed Wave 3 certificate, or Crossover Evaluation,
– active first aid certificate,
– 5 minutes STA,
– 100 meters DYNB,
– 75 meters DNF,
– 50 meters CWTB & FIM,
– 35 meters CNF,
– 30 meters buddying CWTB,
– rescue from 25 meters and surface tow 50 meters
AIDA Instructor
(AIDA 1,2,3)
Molchanovs Instructor
(Wave 2 Instructor & Lap 2/3/4 Instructor)
– completed the AIDA4 course or the AIDA4 Crossover Evaluation, completed a course in First Aid with CPR within the last two years,
– 40-50 meters CWT,
– 30 meters CWT lasting for a minimum of 1.30 minutes,
– after a 1 minute breath-up hang at 15 meters for 45 seconds to a minute and then rescue a freediver with BO from that depth,
– stamina test: max. 1 min preparation and then 5 consecutive dives to 20 meters, each with a 1 min surface interval,
– rescue from 25 meters followed by recovery at surface and 50 meter tow,
– STA: minimum 4 minutes,
– demonstration of other disciplines: DNF, CNF and VW, no minimum requirement,
– AIDA 2, 3 and 4 theoretical exams,
– final Instructor Course exam, practical exams on teaching and setting up equipment, oral presentation
– completed Wave 3 certificate, or Crossover Evaluation,
– active first aid certificate,
– 4 minutes STA,
– 100 meters DYNB,
– 60 meters DNF,
– 40 meters CWTB & FIM,
– 30 meters CNF,
– 15 meters stand-by rescue (min 60 seconds),
– rescue from 25 meters and surface tow 50 meters,
– CO2 dive (while weighted for neutral buoyancy at 10 meters, perform vertical finning for 60 seconds with elbows above the surface, followed by a 20 meter CWT/CWTB dive)
 Master Instructor
Instructor Wave 3
You can Apply when you fulfill the following requirements :
– At least 12 Months active as an AIDA Instructor
– Issued min. 60 AIDA Certifications of which min. 20 have to be AIDA 2 and min. 20 have to be AIDA 3 Certifications

– W3IT Application,
– assisted min. one complete Molchanovs Instructor Course or Molchanovs Instructor Crossover Course,
– passed performance requirements in DNF, CNF, DYN (monofin) and CNF on W3I level,
– leading min. 20 Base Training Sessions,
– completed the W1-3 exams for personal testing,
– pass the W2I Entry Exam,
– pass the W2I Final Exam,
– prepare a 5min marketing presentation about their freediving operation


More advanced Certificates

Freediver in Fishswarm


The requirements for Master Instructor or Instructor Trainer certificates are more specific :

This is what AIDA writes about becoming an Instructor Trainer :

An AIDA Instructor Trainer is an AIDA Master Instructor who has been active for minimum 12 months and has issued a minimum of 150 certifications, of which at least 20 have to be AIDA 4 Master Freediver.

The number of certs may be made up of certifications from another organization which will only count as half a credit. You will still need 50% of the credits coming from AIDA certifications.

For example, you have 75 AIDA certifications of which at least 10 are AIDA 4 you will then need a further 150 certifications from another agency with at least 20 level 4 equivalents to become eligible for application to become Instructor trainer.”

Source: https://www.aidainternational.org/Education/AIDAFreedivingCourses

This is what Molchanovs writes about becoming a Wave4 / Instructor Trainer :


To become a Lap or Wave 4 Instructor Trainer, you will need to fulfill the following pre-requisites:

  • Have at least 1 year of teaching experience as a Molchanovs Instructor Trainer (or equivalent in other agencies)
  • Be a Wave 4 Instructor (Lap 4 Instructor to become L4IT)
  • Proof of athlete performance within 25% of current AIDA or CMAS world records with an extensive competition background OR demonstrate extensive coaching experience of athletes at the same level OR demonstrate extensive experience as safety diver or organizer of world record-level competitions

A candidate that fulfills these requirements can send an application to the Molchanovs Movement Board and, if accepted, upgrade to Molchanovs L/W4IT by passing the Molchanovs Wave 4 Instructor Trainer Course (ITC4).
Please note that Molchanovs acknowledges the importance of pool training, competitions, and high-level athletic training, and especially welcomes potential Lap 4 Instructor Trainers to apply!


Include all your competition experiences in your application, such as:

  • Your competition results as an athlete
  • The results of athletes that you are/were coaching: describe your involvement in the process in detail
  • Previous experience as a safety diver: provide details of your involvement, level of training, and any extra certifications (such as medical training, first aid, etc.)
  • Previous experience as an organizer and/or judge: provide details regarding your involvement, level of the competitions, etc.
The ITC4 Course

Once the candidate has received approval from the Molchanovs Movement Board, they can join any of the announced ITC4 courses (either online or in-person) and must complete the following before the start of the ITC4:

  • Review W4 manual (in English)
  • Review W4I Upgrade Course Materials
  • Have the current competition rules at hand for all relevant agencies
  • Have the relevant qualifications up-to-date and active:
  • First aid certification
  • Active status as Molchanovs instructor
  • Dive insurance
  • Professional liability insurance

The ITC4 course consists of 4 hours of lectures with the active involvement of all candidates. While the ITC4 course focuses mainly on the training and safety principles outlined in the W4 manual, it is also used as an opportunity for Quality Management; therefore, ‘teaching how to teach’ principles will be reviewed.

Source: https://molchanovs.com/pages/molchanovs-wave-instructor-trainer-w4it-application-requirements

Conclusion - What you get!

In the final dive into the world of freediving, it’s evident that both AIDA and Molchanovs share a strong community bond. AIDA, with its decentralized and democratic structure, stands as a pioneer in freediving education, shaping competitions and establishing rules.

On the other hand, Molchanovs takes a unique path, blending a business model with the passion of freediver entrepreneurs. Offering high-quality courses for skill enhancement on their membership platform, Molchanovs defines itself as an investment in the pursuit of excellence.

Whether you choose the community-driven AIDA or the entrepreneurial spirit of Molchanovs, both paths lead to a deeper connection with the thrilling world of freediving. It’s not just a conclusion but a new beginning for your underwater adventures. Dive on!

Dive Deeper: Choose Your Freediving Current!

What’s your take on AIDA and Molchanovs? Share your thoughts, experiences, or questions below!
Let’s create a wave of discussions and help fellow underwater enthusiasts navigate the exciting waters of freediving.
Dive in, comment, and spread the aquatic adventure – your input makes the community stronger!

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