By freedivinguae

Understanding the Impact of Deep Diving

“How deep have you been underwater?” was a question asked by one of my open water course. This is a tricky question, one that I don’t like to answer because I fear that my students may aspire to my maximum depth, or worse, attempt to beat it. A more appropriate question is, “How deep should scuba divers descend?” Unfortunately, the answer is not straightforward–it depends on a variety of factors such as breathing gas, experience level and personal tolerance for high partial pressures of inert gasses and oxygen.
What Is the Deepest a Scuba Diver Has Descended?

The current depth record for open-circuit scuba diving is held by Ahmed Gabr, who descended to 332.35 meters (1,044 ft.) on September 18, 2014.
More Importantly, How Deep Can You Dive?

Most recreational scuba diving organizations set the maximum depth for a certified, experienced recreational divers breathing air at 130 feet. Divers should heed this guideline. The fact that extremely experienced, technical divers have descended beyond 1000 feet on admittedly risky dives does not mean that recreational divers have any business breaking suggested depth limits. When a diver considers the reasons behind established depth limits, it becomes obvious why breaking depth guidelines is foolish.
Considerations in Determining a Maximum Depth

Decompression Status
The deeper a diver descends, the shorter his no-decompression limit will be. For example, a diver who descends to 40 feet can remain at the depth for 140 minutes (air supply permitting). A diver who descends to 130 feet can stay only 10 minutes at that depth before accumulating so much nitrogen in his body that he requires a series of decompression stops on the way up to reduce his risk of decompression sickness. Descending beyond 130 feet without decompression dive training does not allow a diver much time to enjoy his dive.

Air Consumption
A diver breathes air at the pressure of the water around him (ambient pressure). The deeper a diver goes, the more the air he breathes compresses (learn more about water pressure and diving). At a depth of 130 feet, a diver consumes his air approximately five times faster than he does on the surface. Divers who plan on diving to this depth will find that their dive time is limited by air consumption. Not only will a diver use his air more quickly at greater depths, he will also require a large air reserve for the long ascent from deep dives.

Narcosis
Some gases, such a nitrogen, may cause narcosis in divers at increased partial pressures. Every diver will experience this narcosis eventually, but the onset of inert gas narcosis varies from diver to diver and from day to day. Be warned–even if you experience the drunken feeling of narcosis as enjoyable, it shares many of the symptoms of alcohol intoxication such as impairment to motor coordination, judgment, and reasoning. Some divers even report visual disturbances and a skewed sense of time.

This is not a good state to be in when deep underwater. A diver should slowly increase dive depths as he gains experience and he should be sure to make his initial deep dives (deeper than 60 ft.) with a qualified individual, such as a guide or instructor who can monitor him for signs of narcosis and assist him if necessary.
Oxygen Toxicity
At very high concentrations, oxygen becomes poisonous (oxygen toxicity), causing convulsions, unconsciousness and even death. When the recreational depth guidelines are followed, oxygen toxicity is not a concern for scuba divers. Still, this gives divers another very good reason not to exceed depth limitations. The oxygen in air may become toxic at depths beginning at approximately 218 feet, and gas mixtures with high percentages of oxygen, such as enriched air nitrox, may be toxic at much shallower depths.

Experience Level
Depth is a stress factor in scuba diving. Psychologically, deeper dives are stressful because divers are farther from their exit point. Divers will notice their air supply dropping more rapidly than at shallower depths, may notice an increase in breathing resistance and are likely to experience some form of mild narcosis. While deeper dives are frequently very beautiful, have pristine reefs, and different wildlife than shallow dives, divers should increase their dive depths cautiously. Making your first deep dives under the supervision of a qualified guide or instructor is always advisable.

What Are Common Depth Limits for Recreational Certification Levels?:

The suggested depth guidelines for various recreational scuba diving certifications vary among organizations. In general:

Adults

Experience Courses (e.g. PADI’s Discover Scuba Diving)–40 ft. (12 meters)
Subsequent Dives for Non-Certified Divers–40 ft. (12 meters)
First and Second Training Dives–40 ft. (12 meters)
Dives 3 and 4 of Open Water Training–60 ft. (18 meters)
Open Water Certified Divers–60 ft. (18 meters)
Experienced Certified Divers, or Divers With Advanced/ Deep Training–130 ft. (40 meters)

Children

Children Ages 8 – 9 (First Dive)–6 ft. (2 meters)
Children Ages 8 – 9 (Successive Training Dives)–2 ft. (4 meters)
Children Ages 10 -11 (Open Water Certified)–40 ft. (12 meters)

Teens

Teenagers Ages 12 – 14 (Open Water Certified)–60 ft. (18 meters)
Teenagers Ages 12 – 14 (Advanced Certifications)–70 ft. (21 meters)
Teenagers Ages 15 and Over–Same as adult limitations

SOURCE : https://www.thoughtco.com/how-deep-can-you-scuba-dive-2963210

By freedivinguae

Freediving: The lure of the deep

The cold, dark waters more than a hundred metres below the surface of the ocean are not a forgiving environment for human beings. The pressure, more than 10 times that at the surface, can quickly cause unconsciousness – fatal at that depth.

But for freedivers – a small band of extreme sportsmen and women who propel themselves down in no more than a wetsuit – the deepest part of the dive is not even the most dangerous. That comes as they ascend to the surface, sustained by a breath taken several minutes before, when a diver can succumb to so-called “shallow water blackout” just metres from fresh air.

Natalia Molchanova, widely regarded as the best female freediver in the world, took a deep breath on Sunday and dipped beneath the waves off the coast of Ibiza. She had done this countless times, but this time she didn’t resurface. On Tuesday, the International Freediving Association (AIDA) released a statement saying Ms Molchanova was missing, and she is now presumed dead.

Ms Molchanova was not performing a deep dive. If anything, Sunday’s dive was completely routine. According to the AIDA statement, she was at just 30m-40m – well short of her record depth of 127m. She was however performing a kind of dive called Constant Weight Apnea Without Fins (CNF) in which the diver wears just a weight belt and thin wetsuit. It is thought that she was caught in a strong underwater current and, without any fins to help propel her, was unable to fight against it. The search for her body continues.

SOURCE: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-33789773

By freedivinguae

What Are the Health Benefits of Swimming in Sea Water?


A swim in the sea may improve your mood and health. Hippocrates first used the word “thalassotherapy” to describe the healing effects of seawater, according to Pacific Naturopathic. Ancient Greeks appreciated the health and beauty benefits of this mineral-rich water and bathed and soaked in seawater-filled pools and hot tubs. Among several benefits, swimming in seawater can help increase your immune system function, improve circulation, promote overall well-being and hydrate your skin.
Video of the Day

Immune
Seawater contains vital elements, vitamins, mineral salts, trace elements, amino acids and living microorganisms that can produce antibiotic and antibacterial effects to help promote a healthy immune system. Reportedly, the components of seawater, similar to human blood plasma, are easily absorbed and utilized by your body while swimming. Inhaling a sea mist filled with negatively charged ions, or molecules that attach to your lungs also boosts your immune system, according to naturopathic doctor Connie Hernandez. In addition, proponents claim that swimming in seawater opens pores in the skin to allow the absorption of sea minerals and the expulsion of disease-causing toxins from the body.

Circulation
Swimming in seawater may help facilitate the circulation of blood in your body. Your circulatory system — made up of the heart, capillaries, arteries and veins — carries oxygen-rich blood from your heart to your body, then returns blood to your heart again. The main purpose of thalassotherapy, or seawater therapy, is to increase blood circulation. Swimming or bathing in warm seawater improves circulation by restoring essential minerals depleted by stress, a poor diet and environmental poisons, according to the Thalasso Experience website.

Well-being
Seawater is used by many for overall improved health and well-being. Swimming in warm seawater purportedly activates the body’s healing mechanisms to fight conditions such as asthma, arthritis, bronchitis and inflammatory diseases, as well as common aches and pains. Magnesium-rich seawater purportedly can also relax your muscles, reduce stress and help induce sleep. Magnesium depresses nerves to relieve nervous irritability for an increased sense of calmness, according to wellness pioneer and author J.I. Rondale.

Skin
The magnesium in seawater may also help hydrate and improve the appearance of your skin. According to a study in the February 2005 edition of the “International Journal of Dermatology,” bathing in a magnesium-rich Dead Sea salt solution helps promote skin moisture. People with atopic dry skin, or dryness on the skin’s surface, submerged one forearm for 15 minutes in a bath solution containing 5 percent Dead Sea salt and the other forearm in regular tap water. Researchers discovered that the salt solution improved skin hydration and significantly reduced skin inflammation symptoms such as redness and roughness when compared to tap water. Observed skin benefits were attributed to the high magnesium content of the Dead Sea salt.

SOURCE : https://www.livestrong.com/article/158987-what-are-the-benefits-of-salt-scrubs/

By freedivinguae

The Insane Benefits of Freediving

If you’re an experienced freediver, then you’ve probably already felt the incredible benefits of the sport. Each dive not only teaches you about what exists outside, in the ocean, but it brings your awareness inside to your body and mind as well. The list of freediving benefits is endless, but here a few to keep you motivated to dive longer and deeper.

Freediving relieves stress
Freediving slows the heart rate and immerses you in an environment where your senses are mostly muted. Many freedivers are also dedicated yoga practitioners, as there is major overlapping when it comes to the mental strength and physical flexibility that’s needed to become a skilled yogi and freediver.

You might find that freediving removes you both physically and mentally to any issues that are tethered back to solid land – like a nasty boss, bratty kids, or a pile of debt calling your name. Freediving gives you a chance to view your landlocked issues from a new perspective.

Freediving brings body consciousness
The only person responsible for and in charge of your wellbeing while freediving is you. Freediving forces you to become hyperaware of each movement that your body is making – including its oxygen levels and CO2 buildup. You will feel everything from buoyancy, cramping, contractions, and how the overall state is.

Compare this to the average person, who often lives life without truly getting to know their body and what is capable.

Freediving increases self-confidence
Most freedivers are shocked when they first start – they never knew they could hold their breath for minutes at a time, or dive so deep on a single breath of air. Freediving brings self-confidence as you learn to trust your skills and fine-tune your control.

Freediving gives you more opportunities to see marine life
Though scuba diving lets you stay underwater longer, the bubbles sometimes startle marine life and the cost of renting or transporting gear can restrict the destinations that you’re able to see. With freediving, you are often seen as a fellow marine mammal and are less threatening to underwater sea life. It’s a much more intimate experience than any other type of diving or snorkeling. Since all you need is your body, a mask, and fins, the places you can explore through freediving are nearly limitless.

Freediving leads to mental clarity
All experienced freedivers know that the path to deeper and longer dives is through total relaxation. While other ocean sports don’t focus on relaxation as much – which is why panic is common in scuba diving, surfing, and swimming. Through freediving, you learn to rein in your fear, leading to mental clarity and insight you couldn’t gain otherwise.

Freediving makes your body more oxygen-efficient
The more you freedive, the more oxygen-efficient your lungs and body become. According to the BBC, “underwater pressure constricts the spleen, squeezing out extra haemoglobin, the protein in red corpuscles that carry oxygen around the body.”

Freediving at depth shows similar effects on the body that training at high altitude does, where the body becomes fine-tuned to performing on oxygen limits. Diving also increases your lung capacity and strength. While the average person rarely inhales a full breath, freedivers do it on a regular basis.

Freediving teaches discipline
Those contractions you feel? While they wouldn’t be classified as painful, they can be uncomfortable – especially during long dives. Tolerating this discomfort instead of turning back as soon as you feel the urge to breathe makes you more disciplined. There are many points in our life where we’re met with discomfort – long lines, awkward encounters, physical training – but having the ability to push past it is priceless.

Freediving strengthens your water safety skills
Certified freedivers learn basic rescue skills, as well as the proper steps and breathing techniques for freediving. Freedivers know that relaxing conserves oxygen, and that the body is capable of holding its breath much longer than most people realize. Freediving is an asset to nearly every sport that involves being in water. You’re able to keep calm and know what to expect when it comes to breath holding (being held under by a wave) or what to do if someone else blacks out.

Freediving increases flexibility
Whenever you take a deep breath, you are stretching your entire upper body ranging from your abdominal muscles to your rib cage to your back and shoulders. Swimming and freediving under pressure also benefits joints. The weightlessness of being submersed in water can increase mobility and even help those with arthritis relieve pain.

Freediving is a great complement to scuba diving
Though scuba diving and freediving are completely different activities, each one helps the other. The more time you spend in the sea, the more comfortable you’ll with being there. And since so many scuba diving accidents are related to panic in an unfamiliar situation, your familiarity with the ocean and relaxation techniques gained in freediving will make you a more competent scuba diver no matter the situation.

SOURCE: https://thesaltsirens.com/the-insane-benefits-of-freediving/

By freedivinguae

Japan To Host 2018 Pan-Pacific Pool Freediving Championship!

Pan Pacific Championship 2018 , the Pan Pacific Pool Freediving championship (Pan Pacs) will take place in Narashino which is located on the east side of Tokyo at the end of March, 2018. Pan Pacs is a three-day world record status competition for the disciplines of static apnea, dynamic apnea without fins and dynamic apnea with fins. Pan Pacs is open to competitors from any nationality and we welcome all freedivers from all over the world. Also,Japan can provide you an excellent venue.

The three-day competition will cover the disciplines of static apnea, Dynamic No Fins (DNF) and Dynamic With Fins (DYN). While it will be open to competitors from all nationalities, special awards will be handed out for competitors from Pan-Pacific countries, specifically those with a coastline on the Pacific Ocean, and/or the part of a continent around the Pacific rim.

The Australian Freediving Association hosted the inaugural Pan Pacific Pool Freediving Championship Brisbane from 26 to 28 November, 2015. There were 45 athletes from 16 nationalities (Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Indonesia, USA, China, Japan, Malaysia, New Caledonia, Russia, Venezuela, Kuwait, Iran, Germany, Great Britain, and Egypt). participated in the competition and it was quite a success. This time Japan holds Pan Pacific Championship 2018 by receiving many requests from athletes.

Pac pacs is opened to athletes of any nationality,however,there will be special awards for competitors from Pan Pacific countries. For the purposes of this competition, Pan Pacific countries are those nations that have a coastline on the Pacific Ocean, and/or the part of a continent around the Pacific rim. Award 1. Top three in each event of men and women 2. Top three in total score of men and women 3. 3. Top three countries in total score(the scores of the top three competitors in each country will be summed to decide top three counties. Only for countries in the Pacific Rim region.)

SOURCE: http://www.nona.dti.ne.jp/tikshiro/about_en.html

By freedivinguae

Scuba Diving for Overcoming Shyness and Self-Consciousness

When my partner suggested we go scuba diving to mark his 30th birthday in a special way, I must admit I was entirely skeptical and a wash of intense dread came over me! I can swim reasonably well, I love animals and I adore thrashing around in the cool azures of the countries I’m fortunate enough to travel to. So what was the big deal?…Well, you see, I’m your classically awkward, shy, self-aware introvert and the thoughts of embarrassing myself underwater in front of a crowd where communication is compromised was enough for me to bury my head in the sand.

After shaking my head vigorously for a week, I relented and soon found myself in a dive shop giving my wet suit and fin sizes to my scuba diving instructor in Koh Tao, Thailand. She put me at ease, quashed my irrational fears and promised me that it would be a small group. True to her word, I turned up the following day ready to dive into my PADI Open Water Diving Course and I met 2 other first time divers. One of the other divers was female and she intuitively helped me zip up my wet suit which I was secretly delighted with. The act of putting on this piece of neoprene solo is something that I don’t think I could’ve coped with. It’s enough to send anyone into a frenzy and after she said “I gotcha” I knew I had made a pal. The relief you find in knowing that you’re all in this together and you all have the same ability breaks down the stigma of ‘Not Knowing What to Do’. I’ll admit that I studied hard when it came to the theoretical aspects of the training, eager to keep up with the gang. Fast forward to the confined water sessions and I was a scatterbrained mess, but me accidentally inflating my BCD and losing my regulator every 5 minutes did give the group a few laughs and broke the ice to say the least.

By the time day 4 rolled around and it was time for our open water dive, my group had spent every day on the beach together and every evening talking up how glad we were to have met each other. We didn’t know much about each other really, yet we had an intrinsic connection, a shared goal to test ourselves beyond our known abilities and a desire to give in to the temptation of the warm, cascading waves of the Pacific Ocean.

Scuba diving for the first time is a truly surreal experience. As cliche as it may sound, taking your first breath underwater is uncomprehendable until you’ve done it. It quite literally took my breath away. If I was to try and jot down how it feels, it would be underwhelming and inadequate. Go experience it for yourself! The first time I went diving, not only did I find these beautiful, colourful creatures in a realm I’ve only ever daydreamed about, I found new friends and most importantly, inner peace. I expected my experience to be stressful and fraught with anxiety due to my disposition and I was surprised to find a sense of calm and stillness 18m beneath the surface. Absolute magic if you ask me but don’t take my word for it, take your PADI Open Water Diving Course.

 

Source: padi

By freedivinguae

Check Out Volivoli Beach Resort Fiji’s New Dolphin Safari Tour

If diving the beautiful waters off the South Pacific nation of Fiji is something you’ve always wanted to do, a new option is to snorkel with dolphins.

Volivoli Beach Resort recently introduced a new “Dolphin Safari Adventure,” of which General Manager Nick Darling says:

“The tour consists of a 3-hour excursion that included providing guests with the opportunity to snorkel one of the many soft coral reefs available in the area. We have been fortunate to see pods of up to 100 dolphins on these tours. The Spinner dolphins are a small but fast resident dolphin to the Bligh Waters.”

The tour is on a request basis and Volivoli Beach Resort provides either a morning or afternoon departure for groups of two to 10, according to Darling:

“The feedback we have had from families and couples has been incredible.”

For more info, check out the Volivoli Beach Resort‘s website at volivoli.com or its Facebook page.

 

Source: deeperblue

By freedivinguae

What Goes Through the Mind of a Freediver During a Deep Dive

I can hear Renee signalling the countdown that she is giving right by my side. It’s in this last minute before the dive that I empty my mind and think about nothing else…

10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…

As I start my decent into The Blue Hole, Dahab I am very slow and relaxed, my mind is empty and every step of the dive comes in a logical sequence of actions. Every step of the dive is made up of various techniques in a chain reaction and missing one will mean having to abort the dive and come back up.

I stop kicking and start my freefall, then in a few seconds the alarm on my dive computer starts indicating that it’s time for me to start the mouthfill.

The mouthfill is a deep equalisation method I use which allows me to safely keep equalising at depth. From now I can relax and enjoy the freefall to 90m.

At 50m the arch comes into view, even without a mask I can enjoy the light coming through it. When I do wear a mask I can often see the giant dog tooth tuna who inhabit the area. The Blue Hole has often hosted giants such as whale sharks and I remember, a few years ago, a massive tiger shark and hammerhead coming inside for a short visit.

By now the freefall has lasted for about one and a half minutes. In fifteen seconds I should reach the bottom plate. I start my smooth and controlled turn and slowly start to kick back up with my monofin. At this point I am usually slightly narked; Nitrogen Narcosis is more commonly known among scuba divers but it can also happen to freedivers. Most commonly when diving below 70m. For me it’s never been very strong and when it hits it’s just strong enough to make the dive more enjoyable.

The ascent is the hard part of the dive as you need to use serious physical effort to get your body back up, however as I have done this dive several times as part of my training I can still have a relaxed view of the Arch. As I come up the visibility extends as more light gets through the water.

At 25m I can hear Renne signalling with a sound that she is present and escorts me the rest of the way up. This is the time for me to wake up and focus. Since 90m has become a relatively easy dive for me I do a 40 second hang at 10m so I can extend my effort and bring my thoughts back together. Slowly I float up to the surface, when I emerge from the water I put both my arms on the buoy, start my recovery breathing, remove my noseclip and give the OK sign to my buddy.

Now, is the time to be proud – the dive was successful and easy. When I do dives to this depth and below it reminds me what a friend of mine told me when we were both training to below 100m. That not many people in the world freedive to 100m, and that when you’re at that depth in that moment you’re probably the only person in the world that deep in the sea. This makes me conscious that what I do is indeed a privilege.

The session is not yet over; it is time for me, after the necessary rest, to do the safety for Renee’s deep dive.

Read my blog post ‘A Day in the Life of Professional Freediver Akim Ladrhi’ to find out what happened in my day preceding and after this dive.

Inspired to find out more about Freediving? Learn more here.

 

Source: padi

By freedivinguae

Take The Pledge And Stop Using Straws To Protect The Ocean

The biggest threat to our oceans is plastic. It is estimated that by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the sea.

However, you can make a difference: Why not start by taking the pledge to stop using straws?

The campaign is the brainchild of actor Adrian Grenier, who is best known for his role in “Entourage.”

Gernier’s The Strawless Ocean campaign aims to educate people about the catastrophic damage that plastics are causing to the oceans. It aims to get people to minimise their use of plastics as much as possible, and the easiest way to start is with drinking straws.

To that end, Gernier has introduced the #stopsucking campaign, which hopefully by sharing with friends, family, and contacts will end up reducing the amount of plastic in our oceans.

So, the next time you order a drink, tell the waiting staff that you don not need a straw!

You can find out more about the straw pledge here.

To see the sort of impact straws can have on wildlife and the sea, watch the video below to watch a straw being removed from a sea turtle’s nostril.

By freedivinguae

History of Freediving

History of Freediving

Scientists have begun to believe that we humans spent many millions of years of our evolutionary development living a semi-aquatic existence. Not as a strange, gilled half-man, half-fish creature, but as an aquatic ape. Standing on two legs in the shallows in order to breathe and evade land-bound predators, our hairy forebears used their hands to gather a bounty of easily harvested food, high in protein and omega oils that helped to facilitate brain development. As a theory, the idea of the aquatic ape helps to explain the layer of subcutaneous fat we have under our skin to keep us warm; the way our finger-tips wrinkle after extended time in the water, making it easier to grip things underwater; and, of course, the famous ‘mammalian dive reflex’, which enables us to freedive deeper, safer and longer. Studies have also shown that if trained early enough, our eyes can adapt to seeing underwater, and we know that if babies are immersed in water their eyes open, their epiglottis closes and they can ‘swim’ back up to the surface. (We will be exploring the mammalian dive reflex in more depth, pun intended, in a later chapter.)

Ancient History

In terms of our more recent history, we know for a fact that humans have been freediving for food for at least 8,000 years. Archaeologists investigating the mummified remains of the Chinchorian, an ancient peoples that lived circa 6,000BC in what is today Chile, found them to have suffered from exostosis, the condition where the bones of the ear canal start to grow across the opening to help protect the eardrum from repeated exposure to cold water. It’s a condition known in modern parlance as ‘surfers ear’, though divers, surfers and kayakers are equally likely to suffer from it – as is anyone who’s repeatedly dunked underwater. The Chinchorian and their ilk weren’t freediving for pleasure, though, but for food and goods to trade. Pearls and sponges were among the first underwater items to find value amongst in-land societies and those without the skills with which to dive for them. In 332 BC, Alexander the Great famously used freedivers to dismantle the underwater booms preventing his ships from entering the harbour during the siege of Tyre.

Sponge Divers and The Birth Of Modern Diving

In 1913, uniting warfare and commerce, a Greek sponge diver, Stotti Georghios dived to over 60m to locate the missing anchor of the pride of the Italian navy, the Regina Margherita. Stotti was no Greek god, mind; weakened by pulmonary emphysema and half deaf from perforated eardrums, he dived for over three minutes, getting to depth by holding onto a giant rock and tying a rope around his waist so he could be pulled back to the surface. A very primitive form of No Limits freediving, he succeeded retrieving the anchor and was rewarded with the then-princely sum of £5 and lifelong permission to fish with dynamite…

Despite the tale of Stotti Georghios making the headlines, freediving wasn’t a means of recreation in those days, mainly due to the problems of the cold, restricted vision and trouble equalizing. Matters soon changed. In 1927 Jacques O’Marchal invented the first mask designed to enclose the nose and in 1938 Maxime Forjot improved it, using a compressible rubber pouch to cover the nose that enabled divers to pinch shut their nostrils, making it easier to equalize the pressure in their ears.

Another Frenchman, Louis de Corlieu, patented fins in 1933 as ‘swimming propellers’. His design was later modified and mass produced by an American, Owen Churchill. Seeing the potential for their use in wartime, the Britain and the US purchased big quantities during WWII. In 1951 a physics student and diver called Hugh Bradner developed the first wetsuits from neoprene, and again the US Navy snapped them up— this time for use by marines in the Korean war.

1949 was the birth of modern freediving as we know it, when Raimondo Bucher, a Hungarian-born Italian air force captain, dove 30m to the bottom of the sea near Naples on a wager. Scientists confidently predicted he’d die from the crushing pressure at that depth, but he returned to the surface unscathed and 50,000 lire better off.

Over the following two decades freediving exploded in popularity, offering a heady mix of competition, science and derring-do, with the trinity of Bob Croft, Jacques Mayol and Enzo Majorca at center stage.

The Modern Freediving Pioneers

Bob Croft, a US Navy diving instructor, spent 25 hours a week in a 30m deep tank teaching submariners how to escape from stricken submarines. There he began breath hold training and could soon hold his breath for over six minutes. These amazing abilities got him a job as a guinea pig for Navy scientists looking to discover if the phenomena known as ‘blood shift’, which had been witnessed in diving mammals, could happen in humans. Croft also developed the technique of lung packing, forcing extra air into his lungs prior to a dive or breath hold.

Encouraged by his colleagues, Croft established three depth records over a period of 18 months and in 1967 became the first person to dive beyond 64 meters (the depth scientists believed was the physiological depth limit for freediving). He would go on to reach a depth of 73m in 1968 before retiring from competitive freediving.

Enzo Majorca, an Italian, achieved his first world record in 1960 with a dive to 45m and in 1962 became the first person to break the 50m mark. He continued breaking records until 1974 when, during an attempt to reach 90 meters, he collided with a scuba instructor.  Upon re-surfacing, Majorca gave vent to his frustrations with a torrent of foul language – all picked up by the live TV cameras that were present to record his moment of glory. He was subsequently banned for 10 years. His official return to the sport in 1988 was marked by a dive to 101m – his last before retiring. Both his daughters, Patrizia and Rossana, continued to do the Majorca name proud, notching up several world freediving records between them.

The Big Blue, the film by Luc Besson, fictionalized the competitive relationship between Enzo Majorca and Jacques Mayol. Jacques, a Frenchman, was the first person to break the 100m barrier and he also served as a test subject for science, demonstrating that his heartbeat decreased from 60 beats per minute to 27 during that dive. Science had always been playing catch-up when it comes to explaining the incredible feats of freedivers, and the governing body at the time, CMAS, became more and more alarmed at the depths that Mayol and Majorca were descending to, so much so that it decided to stop ratifying records in the early seventies in an attempt to dissuade further attempts. This didn’t stop the record attempts, though, and in 1988 Italian Angela Bandini stunned the world with a 107m dive.

Freediving As A Sport

The world of competitive freediving lifted many more divers to prominence in the nineties and continues to do so in the present day. We don’t have the room to name them and their incredible achievements here, save for five Tanya Streeter, Umberto Pelizarri, Natalia Molchanova, William Trubridge and Herbert Nitsch.

Tanya Streeter began breaking records almost immediately when she began freediving in her mid-twenties and in 1998 reached 113m with a No Limits dive. A fearless competitor, she twice held records that were deeper than the men’s equivalent: a No Limits dive to 160m in 2003 that has never been broken, and a record Variable Weight dive to 122m that was held for seven years.

Also setting the freediving world alight in the 90s was the Italian Umberto Pelizzari, achieving records in Constant Weight, Variable Weight and No Limits freediving. He founded the freediving agency Apnea Academy, wrote a manual of freediving, and today teaches and works as a TV host and university professor.

The late Natalia Molchanova has, to date, 40 world records and was still breaking records in her fifties. She has held every single woman’s’ world record, except for a single No-Limits variant that she never attempted. Molchanova was the first woman to pass the 100m mark in the discipline of Constant Weight, reaching 101m in 2009. In that year she set five new world records and took all five gold medals at the two AIDA individual world championships.

William Trubridge, a double world record holder, has the distinction of being the first person to dive to 100m in the discipline of Constant Weight without fins. (Until 2003 it wasn’t even considered possible to achieve that depth without the aid of fins.)

William Trubridge, a double world record holder, has the distinction of being the first person to dive to 100m in the discipline of Constant Weight without fins. (Until 2003 it wasn’t even considered possible to achieve that depth without the aid of fins.)

 

Source: deeperblue