Is Freediving an Extreme Sport (and What are the World Records?)

Freediving is a sport so extreme that it was once regarded as the second most extreme summer sport in the world! Herbert Nitsch is the current Freediving World Record holder while divers holding world records in other freediving disciplines include Aleix Segura Vendrell, Natalia Molchanova, Mateusz Malina, Magdalena Solich-Talanda, and William Trubridge among others.
Is Freediving an Extreme Sport

Table of Contents

There is nothing easy about freediving. You will need dedication, determination, and A LOT of practice. Famous freedivers didn’t make it by just diving once and calling it a day. They have persevered to be world record holders and the biggest names in this sport.

How Do Freedivers Handle Pressure?

Freedivers learn to equalize, equalize, and equalize! This is a major thing to master before actually going into the open water.

If you fail to equalize your ears, this will result in excruciating ear injuries.

How Do You Equalize When Freediving?

You can practice several equalization techniques to be able to handle the pressure put upon by the ocean such as:

  • Valsalva maneuver – Also known as the most common equalization technique for scuba divers and beginner freedivers alike. Do this technique by creating pressure from your diaphragm by exhaling through the nostrils of your pinched nose which will result in inflation in the ears.
  • Toynbee Maneuver – If in Valsalva, you pinch your nose and blow, in this technique you pinch your nose and swallow.
  • Lowry Technique – This is a combination of Valsalva and Toynbee wherein you pinch your nose, blow, then swallow.
  • Frenzel maneuver – Although not optimal, it will be great to learn this technique. Practice this by creating pressure in the back of your throat using the back of your tongue. This will result in equalization in your ears while also keeping your epiglottis closed.
  • Edmonds Technique – This starts with a Valsalva maneuver before utilizing your jaw by pushing it forward.

Do You Need to Decompress When Freediving?

The answer depends on the kind of dive that you are going to attempt. Recreational freedivers who stay only a few meters below the surface don’t usually need to decompress.

However, if you will be attempting repetitive deep diving with only short surface intervals you will need to decompress as this type of freediving might lead to decompression sickness (DCS) or getting the bends .

How Do Freedivers Hold Their Breath for So Long?

Freedivers spend a long time training to take deeper breaths. Before going into the open water, you would need to learn the discipline of static apnea in which you would just lay face down on the pool trying to control your breath and to know how long you can stay underwater.

Aside from the proper training, our body does its job keeping us alive underwater for as long as possible. Although you might feel that you are competent and confident enough, it is always best to dive with a friend.

How Long Can Freedivers Hold Their Breath For?

The length of time in which a freediver can hold their breath varies. Untrained swimmers can only hold their breath for about 30 seconds or less. Experienced divers can hold their breath a lot longer than that.

The time in which you can hold your breath is influenced by your skills, how comfortable you are underwater, the conditions of the water, and your fitness.

What is the Record for Longest Freedive?

Spanish diver Aleix Segura Vendrell holds the world record for longest With 02 static apnea (breath-holding for as long as possible) with 24 minutes and 3 seconds. He set the record in February 2016.

Stéphane Mifsud from France holds the world record for longest Without 02 static apnea for 11 minutes and 35 seconds. Mifsud set the record in June 2009.

As for women freedivers, Russian diver Natalia Molchanova holds the world record for longest Without 02 static apnea for 9 minutes and 2 seconds and she set this in June 2013.

How Do You Breathe Before Freediving?

You should keep these steps in mind for your last breath before entering the deep blue:

  • Do not rush taking in your last breath.
  • You should find a comfortable position (lying down or upright) in which you will take your last full breath.
  • Make two complete exhalation and inhalation to fill your lungs with fresh air.
  • After breathing up, take a quick, deep breath before making a full exhale.

Why Do Freedivers Hyperventilate Before a Descent?

Some freedivers hyperventilate to stay down longer. When you hyperventilate it results in a rapid decrease of carbon dioxide in your bloodstream tricking you into thinking that you don’t need to breathe.

However, this “trick” still decreases your oxygen while you’re underwater. The only difference is that when you hyperventilate, you won’t feel like you need to surface or to breathe putting you in a very dangerous position.

How Deep Can Freedivers Go?

The depth in which freedivers go varies from person to person or day to day. Experienced divers can comfortably dive a depth of 40 to 60 feet or approximately 12 to 18 meters. Competitive divers have dived five times over and have safely surfaced.

Ultimately, it all depends on how skilled you are and how comfortable you are on your dives.

How Deep Can the Average Person Freedive?

For recreational swimmers, the maximum depth that they can freedive is estimated to be around 40 feet or approximately 12 meters.

Of course, this varies from person to person and should never be attempted alone.

How Deep Can a Beginner Freediver Go?

In theory, if beginner freedivers can swim horizontally for 30-40 meters, they can also potentially freedive to a depth that is more or less than half of that distance. Beginners can go to a depth of around 15-20 meters underwater.

The depth in which you can go is assessed during the dynamic apnea training where you will learn all the important skills in freediving.

How Do Freedivers Go So Deep?

It seems that we are not so different from our other mammalian brothers and sisters — the seals and the dolphins.

Studies have shown that we have adapted the diving reflex that these animals possess. This reflex slows down or, in some cases, shuts down some of our physiological functions allowing us to go deep for longer.

But you will not survive with this reflex alone. To be able to stay underwater for however long, you must need to dedicate time to actually train properly. It would pay to train your breathing to expand your lung functions making you deep deeper and longer.

Who is the Best Freediver in the World?

Also known as “the deepest man on earth”, Herbert Nitsch is the current Freediving World Record Holder.

To date, he is the only diver who has won 33 World Record titles across all eight freediving disciplines, and one world record in Skandalopetra, a traditional Greek discipline.

What is the World Record for Deepest Freedive?

Herbert Nitsch holds the World Record for Deepest Freedive. In 2007, during the No-Limits competition in Greece, the Austrian diver descended 214 meters or 702 feet underwater.

He broke his own record in 2012 after diving 253.2 meters or 831 feet during the No-Limits competition in Santorini, Greece.