20 April 1970 |
Herbert Nitsch (born 20 April 1970) is an Austrian freediver who has held world records in all of the eight freediving disciplines recognised by AIDA International. He is the current freediving world record champion and “the deepest man on earth”. This title was given to him, when he set the current world record in No Limits discipline at the depth of 214 meters (~702 feet). To date, he has achieved 31 official World Records (see the table below), one world record in the traditional Greek discipline of Skandalopetra (107m). He surpassed his own no limits record with a dive in June 2012 to 253.2 meters (~830.8 feet).
Nitsch, who worked part time as a pilot for Tyrolean Airways, holds the No-Limits record, the prestigious title of "Deepest man on Earth" in which the diver can make use of a weighted sled to descend as far as possible and uses an air-filled balloon to return to the surface. Nitsch set the world record in Spetses, Greece  in June 2007 when he descended to 214 m, beating his own record of 183 m set the previous year. He also held the world record in the Constant Weight event, which is considered by many to be the classic free-diving discipline: the diver descends next to a line, not using the line and unaided by a sled, and must maintain a constant weight, meaning that no weight can be dropped for the return to the surface. Nitsch exceeded the then world record in 2006 when he dived to a depth of 110 m, but failure to complete the strict surfacing protocols within the allotted time meant that the dive was disqualified. In Hurghada, Egypt, in December 2006 he did a Constant Weight World Record dive of 111 m, adding 2 m on top of Guillaume Néry's previous record.
Nitsch worked hard in 2007 and on 14 June 2007 he achieved 214 m (702 ft) in Spetses, Greece on a revolutionary, partly motorized sled. In November 2010, Nitsch presented a TED talk in Vienna detailing this achievement.
Building on his fitness from the No Limits, Nitsch later in 2007 set the Constant weight (No Fins) record during The Triple Depth in Dahab, Egypt, and went on to push the Constant record to 112m during the World Championships in Sharm. Herbert also won the AIDA Individual World Championships.
Of the other five AIDA recognised events, Nitsch has been the world record holder in four: Static Apnea, Dynamic Apnea, Free Immersion and Dynamic Apnea without fins. He set a time of 9 mins 4 secs for the world Static Apnea record in December 2006 when he held his breath underwater in a swimming pool in Hurgada, a time that was beaten by 4 secs in 2007 by Tom Sietas of Germany. His record of 66 m for Constant Weight without fins, set in 2004, was beaten by 14 m in 2005 by Czech free-diver, Martin Štěpánek, who is also the holder of the Free Immersion record of 106 m; Nitsch recorded 100 m in September 2003, but his record was bettered by a dive of 101 m by Carlos Coste of Venezuela in October the same year and then twice improved upon by Štěpánek. Nitsch's Dynamic Apnea record, 183 m set in 2002, has been beaten by 40 m by Tom Sietas and women's champion, Natalia Molchanova of Russia, has also swum further than 200 m. Sietas also holds the Dynamic Apnea without fins record at 183 m, beating Nitsch's 2001 distance of 134 m by almost 50 m.
During the 2009 Vertical Blue competition at the Dean's Blue Hole in Bahamas, he broke the Free Immersion world record at 109 m. On the last day of the competition, he performed a world record dive in Constant Weight at 120 m, beating by 6 m the previous record that he had set a few days earlier. He used his arms only in the last 40 m of this ascent, with a total dive time of 3:58.
In 2012, Nitsch returned to the No Limits category in the waters off Santorini, Greece, with a project labeled "Extreme 800", aiming for a depth of 244 meters, the round number of 800 feet. An original intention of having also this dive sanctioned by AIDA fell through due to a sponsoring conflict between the two watchmakers Breitling (supporting Nitsch and the record project) and Suunto (supporting AIDA), leaving no officiating body to homologue the dive. Following extensive training using an innovative torpedo-type sled design of very high descend and ascend speed, on June 6th Nitsch managed to reach a depth of 253.2 meters (~830 feet), but during the last ten meters of the ascend he was reported to require assistance by safety freedivers, while experiencing serious symptoms of decompression sickness. Later, Nitsch declared on his blog that at the target depth, he suffered what he himself called a bewildering "blackout through narcosis" (as opposed to through oxygen starvation), and then waking up during the ascend. Following a planned post-dive decompression, breathing medical oxygen at a shallow depth, he told his support team that he felt much weaker than normal, and his condition was assessed as critical enough to require an air transfer to a pre-alerted decompression chamber in Athens, where he received treatments. Nitsch subsequently received extensive deco treatments in Germany.
Official World Records by Herbert Nitsch
|DNF||131 m||27 January 2001||Geneva|
|DYN||170 m||24 February 2001||Geneva|
|CWT||72 m*||16 June 2001||Millstätter See|
|CWT||86 m||11 October 2001||Ibiza|
|DYN||172 m||10 November 2001||Berlin|
|DNF||134 m||24 November 2001||Wiesbaden|
|DYN||181 m||2 February 2002||Vienna|
|FIM||92 m||27 February 2002||Austria|
|DYN||183 m||16 November 2002||Berlin|
|FIM||100 m||5 September 2003||Millstätter See|
|CWT||95 m||5 September 2003||Millstätter See|
|CNF||50 m||6 September 2003||Millstätter See|
|CNF||62 m||11 September 2004||Spetses (Greece)|
|CNF||66 m||12 September 2004||Spetses|
|NLT||172 m||2 October 2005||Žirje (Croatia)|
|NLT||183 m||28 August 2006||Žirje|
|CWT||111 m||9 December 2006||Hurghada (Egypt)|
|STA||9 min 4 sec||13 December 2006||Hurghada|
|NLT||185 m||13 June 2007||Spetses|
|NLT||214 m||14 June 2007||Spetses|
|CNF||83 m||21 October 2007||Dahab (Egypt)|
|CWT||112 m||1 November 2007||Sharm (Egypt)|
|CWT||114 m||4 April 2009||Long Island (Bahamas)|
|FIM||109 m||6 April 2009||Long Island (Bahamas)|
|CWT||120 m||11 April 2009||Long Island (Bahamas)|
|VWT||142 m||7 December 2009||Long Island (Bahamas)|
|FIM||112 m||8 December 2009||Long Island (Bahamas)|
|CWT||123 m||9 December 2009||Long Island (Bahamas)|
|FIM||114 m||19 April 2010||Long Island (Bahamas)|
|CWT||124 m||22 April 2010||Long Island (Bahamas)|
|FIM||120 m||25 April 2010||Long Island (Bahamas)|
72m = AIDA Lake Record; after 2001-12-31 AIDA International no longer separated the records achieved in a lake from those in the sea.
- http://www.herbertnitsch.com. Missing or empty
- "AIDA International". 2007. Retrieved 30 January 2007.
- Current Freediving World Records
- "Apnea Mania". 2007. Retrieved 30 January 2007.
- "Freedive Central". 2008. Retrieved 30 January 2008.
- "Herbert Nitsch receiving treatment after failed Record Attempt, Deeperblue.com".
- "Herbert Nitsch presenting a TED talk in Vienna in November 2010".