Freediving

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Freediver with monofin, ascending

Freediving, free-diving, free diving, breath-hold diving, or skin diving is a form of underwater diving that relies on breath-holding until resurfacing rather than the use of breathing apparatus such as scuba gear.

Besides the limits of breath-hold, immersion in water and exposure to high ambient pressure also have physiological effects that limit the depths and duration possible in freediving.

Examples of freediving activities are: traditional fishing techniques, competitive and non-competitive freediving, competitive and non-competitive spearfishing and freediving photography, synchronized swimming, underwater football, underwater rugby, underwater hockey, underwater target shooting and snorkeling. There are also a range of "competitive apnea" disciplines; in which competitors attempt to attain great depths, times, or distances on a single breath.

Historically, the term free diving was also used to refer to scuba diving, due to the freedom of movement compared with surface supplied diving.[1][2][3]

History[edit]

Natural sponges have been harvested by freedivers near the Greek island of Kalymnos since at least the time of Plato.

In ancient times freediving without the aid of mechanical devices was the only possibility, with the exception of the occasional use of reeds and leather breathing bladders.[4] The divers faced the same problems as divers today, such as decompression sickness and blacking out during a breath hold. Freediving was practiced in ancient cultures to gather food, harvest resources such as sponge and pearl, reclaim sunken valuables, and to help aid military campaigns.[citation needed]

In Ancient Greece, both Plato and Homer mention the sponge as being used for bathing. The island of Kalymnos was a main centre of diving for sponges. By using weights (skandalopetra) of as much as 15 kilograms (33 lb) to speed the descent, breath-holding divers would descend to depths up to 30 metres (98 ft) to collect sponges.[5] Harvesting of red coral was also done by divers.[citation needed]

The Mediterranean had large amounts of maritime trade. As a result of shipwrecks, particularly in the fierce winter storms, divers were often hired to salvage whatever they could from the seabed.[6] Divers would swim down to the wreck and choose the most valuable pieces to salvage.

Divers were also used in warfare. Defenses against sea vessels were often created, such as underwater barricades, and hence divers were often used to scout out the seabed when ships were approaching an enemy harbor. If barricades were found, it was divers who were used to disassemble them, if possible.[7] During the Peloponnesian War, divers were used to get past enemy blockades to relay messages as well as supplies to allies or troops that were cut off,[8] and in 332 BC, during the Siege of Tyre, the city used divers to cut the anchor cables of Alexander's attacking ships.[citation needed]

In Japan, ama divers began to collect pearls about 2,000 years ago.[9][10] For thousands of years, most seawater pearls were retrieved by divers working in the Indian Ocean, in areas such as the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea, and in the Gulf of Mannar (between Sri Lanka and India).[11] A fragment of Isidore of Charax's Parthian itinerary was preserved in Athenaeus's 3rd-century Sophists at Dinner, recording freediving for pearls around an island in the Persian Gulf.[12]

Pearl divers near the Philippines were also successful at harvesting large pearls, especially in the Sulu Archipelago. At times, the largest pearls belonged by law to the sultan, and selling them could result in the death penalty for the seller. Nonetheless, many pearls made it out of the archipelago by stealth, ending up in the possession of the wealthiest families in Europe.[13] Pearling was popular in Qatar, Bahrain, Japan, and India. The Gulf of Mexico was also known for pearling. Native Americans harvested freshwater pearls from lakes and rivers like the Ohio, Tennessee, and Mississippi, while others dived for marine pearls from the Caribbean and waters along the coasts of Central and South America.

In 1940, Dottie Frazier pioneered freediving for women and also began teaching classes. It was also during this time that she began to design and sell rubber suits for Navy UDT divers.[14]

Freediving activities[edit]

Recreational hunting and gathering[edit]

Spearfishing[edit]

Spearfishing is an ancient method of fishing that has been used throughout the world for millennia. Early civilizations were familiar with the custom of spearing fish from rivers and streams using sharpened sticks.

Today modern spearfishing makes use of elastic powered spearguns and slings, or compressed gas pneumatic powered spearguns, to strike the hunted fish. Specialised techniques and equipment have been developed for various types of aquatic environments and target fish. Spearfishing may be done using free-diving, snorkelling, or scuba diving techniques. Spearfishing while using scuba equipment is illegal in some countries. The use of mechanically powered spearguns is also outlawed in some countries and jurisdictions.[citation needed] Spearfishing is highly selective, normally uses no bait and has no by-catch.

Collection of shellfish[edit]

Competitive breath-hold watersports[edit]

Aquathlon[edit]

Aquathlon (also known as underwater wrestling) is an underwater sport where two competitors wearing masks and fins wrestle underwater in an attempt to remove a ribbon from each other's ankle band in order to win the bout. The "combat" takes place in a 5-metre (16 ft) square ring within a swimming pool, and is made up of three 30-second rounds, with a fourth round played in the event of a tie. The sport originated during the 1980s in the former USSR (now Russia) and was first played at international level in 1993. It was recognised by the Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques (CMAS) in 2008.[15][16][17][18]

Competitive spearfishing[edit]

Competitive spearfishing is defined by the world governing body CMAS as "the hunting and capture of fish underwater without the aid of artificial breathing devices, using gear that depends entirely on the physical strength of the competitor." They publish a set of competition rules that are used by affiliated organisations.[19][20]

Synchronised swimming[edit]

A member of the Japanese team is thrown up in the air by other members under the water during the team's free routine at the 2013 French Open.

Synchronized swimming is a hybrid form of swimming, dance, and gymnastics, consisting of swimmers (either solos, duets, trios, combos, or teams) performing a synchronised routine of elaborate moves in the water, accompanied by music. Synchronised swimming demands advanced water skills, and requires great strength, endurance, flexibility, grace, artistry and precise timing, as well as exceptional breath control when upside down underwater. During lifts swimmers are not allowed to touch the bottom.[citation needed]

Traditionally it was a women's sport, but following the addition of a new mixed-pair event, FINA World Aquatics competitions are open to men since the 16th 2015 championships in Kazan, and the other international and national competitions allow male competitors in every event. However, men are currently still barred from competing in the Olympics. Both USA Synchro and Synchro Canada allow men to compete with women. Most European countries also allow men to compete, and France even allows male only podiums, according to the number of participants. In the past decade more men are becoming involved in the sport and a global biannual competition called Men's Cup has been steadily growing.[citation needed]

Swimmers perform two routines for the judges, one technical and one free, as well as age group routines and figures. Synchronised swimming is both an individual and team sport. Swimmers compete individually during figures, and then as a team during the routine. Figures are made up of a combination of skills and positions that often require control, strength, and flexibility. Swimmers are ranked individually for this part of the competition. The routine involves teamwork and synchronization. It is choreographed to music and often has a theme. Synchronised swimming is governed internationally by FINA (Fédération Internationale de Natation).

Underwater hockey[edit]

Two players compete for the puck in underwater hockey

Underwater Hockey, (also called Octopush (mainly in the United Kingdom)) is a globally played limited-contact sport in which two teams compete to manoeuvre a puck across the bottom of a swimming pool into the opposing team's goal by propelling it with a pusher. It originated in England in 1954 when Alan Blake, the founder of the newly formed Southsea Sub-Aqua Club, invented the game he called Octopush as a means of keeping the club's members interested and active over the cold winter months when open-water diving lost its appeal.[21] Underwater Hockey is now played worldwide, with the Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques, abbreviated CMAS, as the world governing body.[22] The first Underwater Hockey World Championship was held in Canada in 1980 after a false start in 1979 brought about by international politics and apartheid.[citation needed]

Underwater football[edit]

US Navy Students playing underwater football

Underwater football is a two-team underwater sport that shares common elements with underwater hockey and underwater rugby. As with both of those games, it is played in a swimming pool with snorkeling equipment (mask, snorkel, and fins). The goal of the game is to manoeuvre (by carrying and passing) a slightly negatively buoyant ball from one side of a pool to the other by players who are completely submerged underwater. Scoring is achieved by placing the ball (under control) in the gutter on the side of the pool. Variations include using a toy rubber torpedo as the ball, and weighing down buckets to rest on the bottom and serve as goals.[citation needed]

It is played in the Canadian provinces of Alberta, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Saskatchewan.[23]

Underwater rugby[edit]

Underwater rugby is an underwater team sport. During a match two teams try to score a negatively buoyant ball (filled with saltwater) into the opponents’ goal at the bottom of a swimming pool. It originated from within the physical fitness training regime existing in German diving clubs during the early 1960s and has little in common with rugby football except for the name. It was recognised by the Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques (CMAS) in 1978 and was first played as a world championship in 1980.[citation needed]

Underwater target shooting[edit]

Underwater target shooting is an underwater sport that tests a competitors’ ability to accurately use a speargun via a set of individual and team events conducted in a swimming pool using free diving or Apnea technique. The sport was developed in France during the early 1980s and is currently practised mainly in Europe. It is known as Tir sur cible subaquatique in French and as Tiro al Blanco Subacuático in Spanish.

Competitive apnea[edit]

Monofin freediver

Competitive freediving is currently governed by two world associations: AIDA International (International Association for Development of Apnea)[24] and CMAS (Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques – World Underwater Federation). Historically, there were two more organisations that regulated freediving records and activities - IAFD (International Association of Freedivers) and FREE (Freediving Regulations and Education Entity).[25][26] Each organization has its own rules on recognizing a record attempt which can be found on the organization's website. Alongside competitive disciplines there are record disciplines - disciplines that are not held in competitions, that are just for setting world records. There is a third organization which in addition to AIDA and CMAS preside over those record disciplines and that is Guinness.[citation needed]

Almost all types of competitive freediving have in common that it is an individual sport based on the best individual achievement. Exceptions to this rule are the bi-annual World Championship for Teams held by AIDA, where the combined score of the team members makes up the team's total points and Skandalopetra diving competitions held by CMAS, the only truly ‘team’ event in freediving - for which teams are formed by two athletes: one acting as an apneista (Voutichtis; diver) and the other acting as an assistant (Kolaouzeris; person who "extracts").

Disciplines[edit]

There are currently eleven recognized disciplines defined by AIDA and CMAS, and a dozen more that are only practiced locally.[clarification needed][citation needed] All disciplines can be practiced by both men and women and only CMAS currently separates records in fresh water from those at sea. The disciplines of AIDA can be done both in competition and as a record attempt, with the exception of Variable Weight and No limits, which are both solely for record attempts. For all AIDA depth disciplines, the depth the athlete will attempt is announced before the dive; this is accepted practice for both competition and record attempts. Most divers choose monofin over bifins where there is a choice.

Discipline Measure­ment AIDA[27] CMAS[28] Description
open water pool open water pool
CWTConstant weight apnea depth Green tickY Green tickY Maximum depth following a guide line. The line to act solely as a guide and only a single hold of the rope to stop the descent and start the ascent is permitted. Dropping dive weights is not permitted. Both bi-fins and monofin are permitted.
CWT BFConstant weight apnea with bifins depth Red XN Green tickY As for CWT above but monofins are not permitted.
CNFConstant weight apnea without fins depth Green tickY Green tickY As for CWT above but no swimming aids such as fins are permitted. This discipline is the most recently recognised discipline having been recognised by AIDA since 2003.
DNFDynamic apnea without fins horizontal distance Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Maximum distance underwater, in a pool, no swimming aids such as fins are permitted (AIDA).
DYNDynamic apnea with fins horizontal distance Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Maximum horizontal distance on one breath in a pool. Monofin or bi-fins are permitted, swimming movements with the arms only.
DYN BFDynamic apnea with bifins horizontal distance Red XN Green tickY Same as DYN above but monofins are not permitted.
FIMFree immersion apnea depth Green tickY Green tickY Maximum depth following a vertical line. The line may be used to pull down to depth and back to the surface. No ballast or fins are permitted. It is known for its ease compared with the Constant Weight disciplines, while still not permitting the release of weights.
JBJump blue, (also the cube) horizontal distance Red XN Green tickY Maximum distance covered around a 15-metre square at a depth of 10 metres. Monofin, bi-fins or no fins are all permitted. Sled may be used for descent.
NLTNo-limits apnea depth Green tickY Red XN Any means of breath-hold diving to depth and return to the surface is permitted provided that a guideline is used to measure the distance. Most divers use a weighted sled to descend and an inflatable bag to ascend.
Skandalopetra depth & min. time Red XN Green tickY The only true team event in freediving. Diver 1 descends, usually assisted by a stone or marble slab attached to a rope, while Diver 2 waits on the surface. Diver 1 reaches the target depth and is hauled to the surface by Diver 2 using only muscle power. No diving mask, suit or fins are permitted, only nose clip.
STAStatic apnea max. time Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Timed breathhold endurance while floating on the surface or standing on the bottom. Usually in a pool.
STA O2Static apnea with pure oxygen max. time Red XN Red XN Timed breathhold endurance, pre-breathing 100% oxygen for up to 30 minutes prior to the breathhold is permitted. Usually in a pool. Although no longer recognised by either AIDA or CMAS there were three instances of records being approved by AIDA.
S&E Apnea – Speed-Endurance Apnea[29] min. time Red XN Green tickY Shortest time over a fixed, underwater distance. An endurance sub-discipline is swum in fractions of a pool length alternating apnoea swimming with passive recovery at the intervals. Disciplines are SPE – 100m speed apnoea, END 16x50 – 800m and END 8x50 – 400m endurance apnoea.
VNFVariable weight apnea without fins depth Red XN Green tickY Descent is assisted by a weighted sled sliding down a line, the ascent may be by pulling up along the line or swimming without fins.
VWTVariable weight apnea depth Green tickY Green tickY Descent is assisted by a weighted sled sliding down a line, the ascent may be either by:
1.) pulling up along the line or swimming with or without fins under AIDA rules
2.) swimming with fins under CMAS rules.
Herbert Nitsch, World Record Holder Freediver
Overview of the above disciplines [30][31][29]

BF - BiFins, MF - MonoFin

Discipline Aids permitted Weight
change
permitted?
Descent Ascent
CNF None
or weight
None No
CWT BF / MF
and/or weight
BF / MF No
CWT BF BF
and/or weight
BF No
DNF x x x
DYN x x x
DYN BF x x x
FIM Rope
or none
Rope
or none
No
JB Sled or
BF / MF or none
BF / MF
or none
Sled only
NLT Any Any Yes
Skandalopetra Stone Hauled up Yes
STA x x x
STA O2 x x x
S&E Apnoea x x x
VNF Sled Rope
or none
Yes
VWT Sled BF / MF
or rope
Yes

World records[edit]

Note 1: Best official result in STA is Guinness WR of 11:54 by Branko Petrović in 2014, a freediver who has results in STA over 10 minutes under both AIDA and CMAS.
Note 2: Best NLT result is 253.2m by Herbert Nitsch in 2012; intention of having the dive sanctioned by AIDA fell through due to a sponsoring conflict.
Note 3: After 2001-12-31 AIDA International no longer separated the records achieved in a lake from those in the sea.

AIDA recognized world records[edit]

As of 28 September 2017, the AIDA recognized world records are:[32]

Discipline Gender Depth [m] Distance [m] Time Name Date Place
Static apnea (STA) Men 11 min 35 sec  Stéphane Mifsud (FRA) 2009-06-08 Hyères, Var, France
Women 9 min 02 sec  Natalia Molchanova (RUS) 2013-06-29 Belgrade, Serbia
Dynamic apnea with fins (DYN) Men 300  Mateusz Malina (POL) &
 Giorgos Panagiotakis (GRE)
2016-07-03 Turku, Finland
Women 237  Natalia Molchanova (RUS) 2014-09-26 Sardinia, Italy
Dynamic apnea without fins (DNF) Men 244  Mateusz Malina (POL) 2016-07-02 Turku, Finland
Women 191  Magdalena Solich (POL) 2017-07-01 Opole, Poland
Constant weight apnea (CWT) Men 129  Alexey Molchanov (RUS) 2016-10-28 Isla Espíritu Santo, Mexico
Women 104  Alessia Zecchini (ITA) 2017-05-10 Dean's Blue Hole, Long Island Bahamas
Constant weight apnea without fins (CNF) Men 102  William Trubridge (NZL) 2016-07-20 Dean's Blue Hole, Long Island Bahamas
Women 72  Sayuri Kinoshita (JPN) 2016-04-26 Dean's Blue Hole, Long Island Bahamas
Free immersion apnea (FIM) Men 124  William Trubridge (NZL) 2016-05-02 Dean's Blue Hole, Long Island Bahamas
Women 92  Jeanine Grasmeijer (NED) 2016-09-06 Kralendijk, Bonaire
Variable weight apnea (VWT) Men 146  Stavros Kastrinakis (GRE) 2015-11-01 Kalamata, Greece
Women 130  Nanja van den Broek (NED) 2015-10-18 Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt
No-limits apnea (NLT) Men 253.2  Herbert Nitsch (AUT) 2012-06-06 Santorini, Greece
Women 160  Tanya Streeter (USA) 2002-08-17 Turks and Caicos
Discipline Gender Points Team / Individual Date Place
AIDA team Men 840.6  CRO
Goran Čolak, Božidar Petani, Veljano Zanki
2012-09-16 Nice, France [33][34]
Women
Men 313.3  William Trubridge (NZL) 2010-07-06 Okinawa, Japan [35][36]
Women

CMAS recognized world records[edit]

As of 22 October 2017, the CMAS recognized world records are:[37]

AIDA
equivalent
Discipline Gender Depth
[m]
Distance
[m]
Time Name/Country Date Place
SPESpeed 100 m apnea with fins (50 m pool) Men 00:31.710  Stefano Konjedic (ITA)
Women 00:35.860  Vera Yarovitskaya (RUS)
END 16x50Endurance 800 m apnea with fins (50 m pool) Men 09:34.270  Max Poschart (GER)
Women 11:20.290  Martina Mongiardino (ITA)
END 8x50Endurance 400 m apnea with fins (50 m pool) Men
Women 4:55.390  Martina Mongiardino (ITA) 2017-04-20 Novara, Italy
STA Static apnea Men 10:39.000  Branko Petrović (SRB) 2015-07-30 Mulhouse, France
Women 08:53.150  Veronika Dittes (AUT)
Dynamic apnea with fins (under ice) Men 175  Arthur Guérin-Boëri (FRA) 2017-03-11 Lake Sonnanen, Finland
Women 125  Valentina Cafolla (CRO) 2017-03-12 Lago Di Anterselva Lake[38]
(open water) Men 200  Sertan Aydin (TUR)
Women
DYN (50 m pool) Men 300.00  Arthur Guérin-Boëri (FRA) 2016-06-11 Lignano, Italy
Women 250.00  Alessia Zecchini (ITA) 2016-06-11 Lignano, Italy
DYN BFDynamic apnea with bifins (50 m pool) Men 246.35  Andrea Vitturini (ITA)
Women 204.20  Alessia Zecchini (ITA) 2016-06- Lignano, Italy
DNF Dynamic apnea without fins (50 m pool) Men 205.97  Goran Čolak (CRO)
Women 171.22  Alessia Zecchini (ITA) 2016-06-08 Lignano, Italy
(25 m pool) Men 200  Arthur Guérin-Boëri (FRA) 2013-08-09 Kazan, Russia
Women 175  Katarina Zubčić (HRV) 2013-11-15 Zagreb, Croatia
Jump blue apnea with fins (at sea) Men 201.61  Arthur Guérin-Boëri (FRA) 2015-10-09 Ischia, Italy
Women 190.48  Alessia Zecchini (ITA) 2015-10-09 Ischia, Italy
(fresh water) Men 170  Alfredo Leonidas Rosado Estrada (ECU)
Women 132.92  Gilda Rivadeneria Montalvo (ECU)
CWT Constant weight with fins (at sea) Men 122  Alexey Molchanov (RUS)
Women 95  Alenka Artnik (SLO)
(fresh water) Men 80  Michele Tomasi (ITA)
Women 57  Tanya Streeter (USA) 1998-12-28 Ocala, Fl, USA
CWT BFConstant weight with bifins (at sea) Men 108  Alexey Molchanov (RUS)
Women 85  Alenka Artnik (SLO)
 Nataliia Zharkova (UKR)
2017-
(fresh water) Men 75  Michele Tomasi (ITA)
Women
CNF Constant weight without fins (at sea) Men 83  Goran Čolak (CRO) 2017-10-04 Kaş, Turkey
Women 65  Nataliia Zharkova (UKR)
(fresh water) Men 65  Michal Rišian (CZE) 2016-07-10 Weyregg, Austria
Women
FIM Free immersion apnea (at sea) Men 81  Devrim Cenk Ulusoy (TUR) 2012-09-25 Kaş, Turkey
Women 72  Şahika Ercümen (TUR) 2014-07-24 Kaş, Turkey
VWT Variable weight apnea with fins (at sea) Men 131  Homer Leuci (ITA) 2012-09-11 Soverato, Italy
Women 111  Derya Can (TUR)
VNFVariable weight apnea without fins (at sea) Men 130  Ufuk Kocak (TUR)
Women 94  Derya Can (TUR)
Skandalopetra (at sea) Men 112  Andreas Güldner (GER) 2014-06-26 Red Sea, Egypt
Women 68.9  Karol Meyer (BRA) 2012 Bonaire, Caribbean

Guinness recognized world records[edit]

Note: Only those disciplines that are modifications of existing AIDA or CMAS disciplines and Guinness-exclusive (as it recognizes and inherits some AIDA/CMAS records) or Guinness-conceived (CMAS and AIDA do/did sanction at some time) disciplines.
As of 25 February 2018

Discipline Gender Depth [m] Distance [m] Time Name Date Place
STA O2 Men 24:11  Budimir Šobat (CRO) 24 February 2018 Zagreb
Women 18:32  Karol Meyer (BRA) 10 July 2009 Florianopolis
DYN under ice Men 175 details under CMAS world records
Women 125
DNF under ice Men 84  Nik Linder (GER) Feb 2013 Weissensee [39][40]
Women
DNF under ice (no diving suit) Men 76.2  Stig Severinsen (DEN) Apr 2013 Qordlortoq Lake [41][42]
Women 50  Johanna Nordblad (FIN) Mar 2015 Päijänne [43]
NLT under ice Men 65  Andreas Pap (SRB) Feb 2013 Weissensee [39]
Women

Recreational[edit]

Recreational freediving in Dahab

Freediving as a recreational activity is widely practiced and differs significantly from scuba diving. Although there are potential risks to all freediving, it can be safely practiced using a wide range of skill levels from the average snorkeler to the professional freediver. Compared to scuba diving, freediving offers:[44]

  • Freedom from cumbersome equipment and short preparation times.
  • Low cost.
  • It is quiet and does not disturb fish, the noise of breathing and bubbles can be quite loud on open circuit scuba though rebreathers are much quieter.
  • Mobility and speed, but for a much more limited period.
  • No decompression time for deep dives, although it is possible to get decompression sickness, or taravana, from repetitive deep free-diving with short surface intervals.[45]
  • The lack of exhaled air bubbles on ascent gives greater visibility on ascent.
  • Accessibility, if the site can be walked to it can, potentially, be dived.
  • Appropriately skilled and fit freedivers can go as deep, or deeper than, recreational scuba divers, the depth being limited only by the willingness to accept the risks; scuba diving is restricted by the level of certification.

Freshwater springs, often with excellent visibility, provide good freediving opportunities but with greater risks.[citation needed] Diving into spring caverns with restricted access to the surface is very different from diving in open water and requires careful planning and an appropriate level of fitness. The time available to a freediver to solve problems underwater before hypoxia sets in is severely restricted in comparison with scuba. The following general considerations apply:

  • Every spring cave is unique and local knowledge needs to be sought for each one.
  • The risk of drowning is greatly increased by an overhead environment, lack of light, silting, lack of or loss of a guideline and spatial disorientation.
  • A lateral swim to the exit point may be required before being able to ascend.
  • If a current is present, the exit route must be planned to go with it.
  • A dive light, with at least one backup, will be required for deeper penetrations.
  • Stirring up silt will lead to loss of visibility or light.
  • Shorter fins are better in confined and silty spaces; a monofin is generally impractical.
  • The cave walls or rocks may offer handholds to assist entry and exit.
  • Air pockets found inside the cave are usually unsafe to breathe from.[citation needed]

Physiology[edit]

The human body has several oxygen-conserving adaptations that manifest under diving conditions as part of the mammalian diving reflex. The adaptations include:

  • Reflex bradycardia: Significant drop in heart rate.
  • Blood-shift: Blood flow and volume is redistributed towards vital organs by means of a reflex vasoconstriction. Blood vessels distend and become engorged, which in the case of the pulmonary capillaries assists with pressure compensation that comes with increasing diving depth, and without which a largely air-filled chest cavity would simply collapse for lack of compliance.[citation needed]
  • Body-cooling: peripheral vasoconstriction results in cooling of peripheral tissue beds, which lower their oxygen demand in a thermodynamic manner. In addition, Murat et al. (2013) recently discovered that breath-holding results in prompt and substantial brain cooling, just like in diving birds and seals. (Dry) breath-holds result in cooling on the order of about 1 °C/minute, but this is likely to be greater with cold water submersion, in proportion to the magnitude and promptness of the dive response.[citation needed]
  • Splenic contraction: Releasing red blood cells carrying oxygen.[46]

Techniques[edit]

Breath-holding ability, and hence dive performance, is a function of on-board oxygen stores, scope for metabolic rate reduction, efficient oxygen utilization, and hypoxia tolerance.[47] Various athletes attempt to accomplish this in various ways. Most divers rely on increasing fitness by increasing lung capacity. Some use "packing", which increases lung volume beyond normal total lung capacity.[48] Simple breath-holding practice is highly effective for increasing lung capacity.[citation needed] In addition, training is allocated to enhance blood and muscle oxygen stores, to a limited extent.[clarification needed]

Training[edit]

Training for freediving can take many forms, some of which can be performed on land.

One example is the apnea walk. This consists of a preparation "breathe-up", followed by a short (typically 1 minute) breath hold taken at rest. Without breaking the hold, participants then begin walking as far as possible until it becomes necessary to breathe again. Athletes can do close to 400 meters in training this way.[citation needed]

This form of training is good for accustoming muscles to work under anaerobic conditions, and for tolerance to CO2 build-up in the circulation. It is also easy to gauge progress, as increasing distance can be measured.[citation needed]

Before competition attempts, freedivers perform a preparation sequence, which usually consists of physical stretching, mental exercise and breath exercise. It may include a succession of variable length static apnea and special purging deep breaths. Results of the preparation sequence are slower metabolism, lower heart rate and breath rate, and lower levels of carbon dioxide in the bloodstream[49] and overall mental equilibrium.[citation needed]

Safety[edit]

Hazards[edit]

The most obvious hazard is lack of access to air for breathing – a necessity for human life. This can result in asphyxia from drowning if the diver does not reach the surface while still capable of holding their breath and resuming breathing. The risk depends on several factors, including the depth, duration and shape of the dive profile.

Latent hypoxia is a specific hazard of deeper freedives. This effect can cause hypoxic blackout during surfacing.

Risk[edit]

Failing to respond to physiological warning signals, or crossing the mental barrier by strong will, may lead to blackout underwater or on reaching the surface.[9][50] Trained freedivers are well aware of this and competitions must be held under strict supervision and with competent first-aiders on standby.[51] However, this does not eliminate the risk of blackout. Freedivers are encouraged to dive only with a 'buddy' who accompanies them, observing from in the water at the surface, and ready to dive to the rescue if the diver loses consciousness during the ascent.[citation needed] Due to the nature of the sport, any practice of freediving must include strict adherence to safety measures as an integral part of the activity, and all participants must also be adept in rescue and resuscitation.[citation needed] Without proper training and supervision, competitive freediving/apnea/breath-hold diving is extremely dangerous.[clarification needed][citation needed]

Statistics and notable accidents[edit]

Nicholas Mevoli, a diver from New York died on 17 November 2013 after losing consciousness on surfacing from a 3-minute 38 second dive to a depth of 72 metres during an official record attempt in the "constant weight without fins" event. He had previously reached greater depths and longer times in other disciplines.[52]

Fiction and documentaries[edit]

Documentaries[edit]

Fiction[edit]

  • In the film Mission Impossible - Rogue Nation, Tom Cruise plays super spy Ethan Hunt fighting the forces of evil, and goes freediving in a scene to expose the villains.
  • The Pearl by John Steinbeck (1947) is a novel about a poor pearl diver, Kino, who finds the 'Pearl of Heaven', which is exceptionally valuable, changing his life forever. The novel explores themes of man's nature as well as greed and evil.
  • In South Sea Adventure (1952) by Willard Price the Hunt brothers, marooned on a coral island, use free diving to collect both pearls and fresh water.
  • In Ian Fleming's (1964) James Bond novel You Only Live Twice, the character Kissy Suzuki is an ama diver. This connection was also mentioned in the film version.
  • Man from Atlantis was a 1970s TV series which featured a superhero with the ability to breathe underwater and freedive in his own special way.
  • The Big Blue (1988) is a romantic film about two world-class freedivers, a heavily fictionalized depiction of the rivalry of freedivers Jacques Mayol and Enzo Maiorca.
  • In the movie Phoenix Blue (2001), protagonist Rick is a musician who freedives competitively.
  • The children's novel The Dolphins of Laurentum by Caroline Lawrence (2003), which takes place in ancient Rome, describes the applications of freediving (sponge and pearl diving) and its hazards, as one of the principal characters, as well as the main antagonist, try to beat each other to a sunken treasure.
  • The Freediver (2004) is a film about a talented female freediver who is discovered and brought to an island, where she is trained by an ambitious scientist to break a freediving world record currently held by an American woman.
  • In the film Into the Blue (2005) starring Jessica Alba, a group of divers find themselves in deep trouble with a drug lord after they come upon the illicit cargo of a sunken airplane in the Caribbean. Jessica Alba is an accomplished freediver, and did much of the underwater work; some other stunts were performed by Mehgan Heaney-Grier.
  • In Greg Iles' novel Blood Memory (2005), the main character Cat Ferry is an odontologist and a freediver.
  • H2O: Just Add Water Series 3 added a freediver (Will Benjamin played by Luke Mitchell) as a regular. Freediving is featured in some episodes.
  • The Greater Meaning of Water (2010) is an independent film about competitive constant weight freediving, focusing on the 'zen' of freediving.
  • In the Canadian television series Corner Gas, the character Karen Pelly (Tara Spencer-Nairn) competed in static apnea, ranking fifth in Canada with a personal best of over six minutes.
  • In the American television series Baywatch episode "The Chamber" (Session 2, Episode 17), the character Mitch Buchannon rescues a diver trapped 90 feet below the ocean surface, but almost dies while suffering the effects of decompression sickness; decompression sickness is highly improbable following freediving exposure to this depth.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ Owen, David M. (1955). A Manual for Free-Divers Using Compressed Air. Pergamon.
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  13. ^ Streeter's Pearls and pearling life dedicates a chapter to the Sooloo islands. Streeter was one of the leading and most influential English jewelers in the 19th century and outfitted his own schooner the Shree-Pas-Sair which he sailed as well and on which he himself went pearl fishing in 1880. (For an illustration of divers on a schooner, see Pearl fishers obtaining the world's best pearls. Streeter furthermore led a consortium to compete with Baron Rothschild to lease Ruby mines in Burma.
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  19. ^ "About Spearfishing". www.cmas.org. World Underwater Federation (CMAS). Retrieved 25 August 2017.
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  26. ^ http://www.apneablue.com/?page_id=18
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  28. ^ Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques. "CMAS-disciplines". Retrieved 5 August 2015.
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  34. ^ http://www.aida-worldchampionship.com/fr/la-competition/results/223-men-result
  35. ^ https://www.trademe.co.nz/sports/sports-memorabilia/other/auction-1487421899.htm
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  42. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DpeM4FNXRsE
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  48. ^ Simpson, G.; Ferns, J.; Murat, S. (2003). "Pulmonary effects of 'lung packing' by buccal pumping in an elite breath-hold diver". Journal of the South Pacific Underwater Medicine Society. 33: 122–126. Retrieved 14 October 2016.
  49. ^ Pollock, Neal W.; Vann, Richard D.; Thalmann, Edward D.; Lundgren, Claus E. G. (1997). Maney, Jr, E. J.; Ellis, Jr, C. H., eds. Oxygen-Enhanced Breath-hold Diving, Phase I: Hyperventilation and Carbon Dioxide Elimination. Diving for Science 1997. Proceedings of the American Academy of Underwater Sciences (17th Annual Scientific Diving Symposium). Retrieved 16 April 2009.
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  53. ^ "Ocean Men: Extreme Dive (2001)". IMDb. IMDb.com, Inc. 31 August 2001. Retrieved 15 June 2018.

Further reading[edit]

  • DeeperBlue.com (2016) The Beginners Guide to Freediving, published by DeeperBlue.com
  • Callagy, Feargus (2012) A Beginners Guide to Freediving, e-book published by DeeperBlue.com
  • Donald, Ian (2013) Underwater foraging – Freediving for food, Createspace publishing, USA. ISBN 978-1484904596
  • Farrell, Emma (2006) One Breath: A Reflection on Freediving, photographs by Frederic Buyle, Pynto Ltd., Hatherley, UK: ISBN 0-9542315-2-X
  • Pelizzari, Umberto & Tovaglieri, Stefano (2001) Manual of Freediving: Underwater on a single breath, English translation 2004 by Idelson-Gnocchi Ltd., Reddick, FL: ISBN 1928649270
  • Severinsen, Stig A. (2010) Breathology: The Art of Conscious Breathing, Idelson-Gnocchi Ltd., Reddick, FL: ISBN 978-1928649342
  • James Nestor (2015) "Deep: Freediving, Renegade Science, and What the Ocean Tells Us About Ourselves", Eamon Dolan/Mariner Books New York, NY: ISBN 978-0544484078

External links[edit]