Deepest Free Dive Record
If you've ever wondered what it feels like to be hundreds of feet below the surface of the water without any oxygen, just ask world-record free-diving champion, Herbert Nitsch.
Herbert Nitsch, often known better by his nickname as the "Deepest Man On Earth," holds the freediving world record. Not only can he hold his breath for an astonishing nine minutes, but he is also the holder of 33 other world records!
Today, we're going to take a deep dive into the deepest free dive record to learn more about what it takes to be an oceanic madman!
Deepest Free Dive Ever
So, what is the deepest free dive, you ask?
Herbert Nitsch set the record back in 2007 for the world's deepest free dive, diving underwater at a depth of 214 meters (702 feet). The female deepest dive world record holder goes to Tanya Streeter, who dove to a depth of 160 meters (524 feet) off the coast of Providenciales.
Free Diving Explained
Many decades ago, scientists believed that humans could not dive 100 feet below the surface of the water before having their lungs collapse. This number was not just a guess either. Years of extensive testing and research took place, all trying to determine how the human body worked and how much pressure it could handle.
Of course, as with many adventure seekers and adrenaline junkies out there, free divers sought to dive far deeper than the recommended risk.
There are a few different types of freediving disciplines. In general, however, freediving is an underwater discipline wherein divers will submerge themselves while blocking off ventilation, all without any external breathing apparatus. Many free divers practice breath control, muscle relaxation, and stress management to reach incredible depths.
Today, freediving is defined as any dive beyond 60 feet. Most people will only ever dive around 20 feet beneath the water's surface in their lifetime. Only experienced divers should ever go below 40 feet.
Only four free divers in the world have ever gone deeper than 560 feet. Unfortunately, there were also two who died attempting to do so.
What Is No-Limit Freediving?
No-limit freediving is an extreme freediving discipline in which a diver will use a weighted sled to help them descend deep beneath the water's surface and a unique buoyancy device to help them when they want to come back up.
Many people say this is the most significant form of underwater human endurance. Most divers use counter-balance pulley systems nowadays, though many years ago, lift bags were the tools of choice.
FUN FACT: In no-limit freediving, many divers can descend to depths below what many submarines are capable of.
What Is Constant-Weight Freediving
You can break this type of freediving down into two categories:
Alexey Molchanov holds the world record for Constant-Weight Freediving. In October 2016, Molchanov dove just above 423 meters below the surface of the water in La Paz, Mexico, where he remained for around three minutes and 50 seconds.
Constant-weight freediving is probably the most common form of freediving. Divers will often wear a wetsuit and bi-fins, as well as carry a tiny amount of weight. Divers are not allowed to change the weight they are using or use guided ropes during this process.
William Trubridge holds the world record for constant-weight freediving without the use of fins. In 2013, he dove just over 334 feet beneath the surface of the water into Deans' Blue Hole in The Bahamas. This was his 18th world record.
This is another extreme freediving discipline in that the diver does not use any fins. With the use of a dive line, divers can hoist themselves up from the bottom. For additional safety, divers will wear a lanyard attached to their ankles instead of their wrists to prevent it from catching onto the line while they are trying to ascend.
What's unique about this kind of diving without fins is divers can only use their pure muscle strength to pull them down and up.
Many people say that this type of freediving without fins is the purest form of discipline.
What Is Free Immersion?
Free Immersion is very similar to the above in that the diver will only have a tiny amount of weight on them and a wetsuit.
What differentiates it, however, is that divers are only allowed to use a single guided rope for propelling themselves up and down.
Divers will either use a head-down or head-up position in free immersion.
What Is Variable-Weight Freediving?
In variable-weight freediving, divers will steadily pull themselves into the depths using a weight. When they want to ascend, they pull on a rope and use their fins to safely make their way back to the surface of the water.
Variable-weight freediving is certainly not as competitive as the other forms of freediving, though there are still world records for it.,
As of today, Stavros Kastrinakis holds the world record for the longest variable-weight free dive at just over 479 feet. He dove into the waters off the coast of Greece back in 2015, where he was beneath the surface for three minutes and 33 seconds.
What Is Apnea?
While it's not technically a form of freediving, apnea is very important in training.
First, you have static apnea.
Static apnea is a discipline in which a diver will hold their breath for as long as possible.
They will lie face down in the water while maintaining submerged respiratory tracts. In this discipline, the goal is reaching the longest duration.
Then, you have Speed-Endurance Apnea.
In this discipline, an athlete will aim to cover a fixed distance within the least amount of time possible while keeping their body beneath the surface of the water. Divers will perform this kind of training in pools with or without fins.
How Long Can A Human Hold Their Breath?
Most humans can only hold their breath underwater for around 30 seconds to two minutes.
Many freediving record-holders swimming without a snorkel or scuba gear have held their breath for more than ten minutes!
However, Budimir Šobat, a free diver from Croatia, broke the world record for the longest time with breath held voluntarily, which was just over 24 minutes, 37 seconds.
The Risks of Freediving
Of course, something this extreme poses a lot of risks, and many people say that freediving can even be more dangerous than base jumping.
When a freediver gets to about 200 or more feet beneath the surface of the water, their heart rate cuts down to about 25% or less. Some divers have had their heart rates recorded at around 14 beats per minute, which is about one-third that of a coma patient.
Many physiologists say that low of a heart rate should not be able to support one's consciousness, yet many divers have experienced it.
The body will also have to cope with the added pressure of being that deep underwater in order to keep the organs functioning. To do so, the body will use a unique process known as peripheral vasoconstriction.
The lungs must also compensate for additional pressure by expanding and allowing for these unique changes to happen within the body.
One of the most dangerous parts of freediving is the blackout.
What might surprise you is that 90% of blackouts occur once a diver reaches the surface of the water and takes a few breaths.
Usually, divers will look fine once they reach the surface of the water. All of the sudden, they will take a few breaths and completely blackout. What happens here is that your blood's oxygen level drops below a certain threshold so that the brain can no longer stay conscious.
While this is certainly not a common experience, many divers go through it.
The good thing is that there are many safety protocols you can follow, so this does not happen.
Breaking Records for Freediving
Freediving is a unique discipline that requires specialized skills, though can be an incredibly exhilarating experience. The feeling of accomplishing an incredible dive keeps many divers coming back for more. There is truly nothing like resurfacing after many minutes of being in the depths to take your first breath!