During free diving to great depths a physical reaction occurs in
the divers body, what is known as "diving reflex" - the divers heartbeat slows
and when approaching "world record" depths, can be nearly half the normal rate.
In addition to this, divers like "Kike", have achieved the ability to control
and decrease their pulsrate even further through breathing techniques and yoga.
"Kike" has a heartbeat of between 10 and 15 per minute when at these depths.
It is also interesting to note when free diving deeper than 50 - 60
meters, the common diving mask must be replaced with specially made contact lenses to
avoid "mask squeeze" while still being able to see. "Mask squeeze", caused
by the air trapped inside the mask being compressed at depth, would under normal
circumstances be taken care of by the diver exhaling a small amount of air through the
nose and into the mask - equalising the pressure. However, these are not normal
circumstances. To a free diver even the tiniest amount of oxygen is of immense value -
something which cannot be wasted - even for a free diver like "Kike" who has a
lung capacity of 10 litres. Free diving consists of five official, gruelling disciplines -
all, but one, carried out in the ocean;
"Constant Weight" (Normal water temperature):
Objective: Swim as deep as possible, only assisted by fins and
mask. Descending is only 20% of the effort - 80% of the effort is swimming back to the
This discipline is the hardest and toughest of them all, as you
have to use all major muscles in your body. The body has to work extremely hard using a
small amount of oxygen. This discipline requires a great deal of physical and mental
training - making for a most demanding dive. The use of rope is only allowed as to show
direction under water, and must not be used by the diver to assist with descent or ascent.
The current World Record, held by Umberto Pelizzari, is 75 meters -
"Kikes" personal record, set in 1997 - is 63 meters.
"Constant weight" - Artic Conditions;
Same objective as the previous discipline, but carried out in
freezing temperatures, with dive taking place under the ice - and diver entering and
exiting the water through a hole in the ice.
This type of diving puts even more demands on the human body due to
the low water temperature, as the body demands more oxygen to be able to function.
The current World Record is held by "Kike", who achieved
a depth of 42 meters on February 21st 1999. See separate story about
this most remarkable achievement.
In this discipline the diver is being pulled down by a sled with a
maximum weight of 30kg, at a rate of approx 2 - 3 meters/second. After reaching maximum
depth, the diver then have to ascend using arms only, by pulling him/herself up along a
The current World Record is 120 meters, "Kikes" personal
best, achieved in 1997, is 97 meters.
The deepest free dives in history are made in this category. Here
the diver use a sled weighing up to 80kg, descending at a rate of 3 - 4 meters/second.
Ascent is assisted by an airfilled balloon, which the diver has to manually activate by
pulling a lever.
The current World Record is 133 meters, "Kikes" personal
best, set in 1997, is an impressive 101 meters.
The last discipline is holding your breath for as long as you
possibly can, whilst laying submerged on the bottom of a swimmingpool, wearing a wetsuit,
mask or swimming goggles, nose-clip - and a weightbelt to keep you submerged.
Current World Record is a staggering 7 minutes 48 seconds -
"Kikes" personal best is an equally staggering 7 minutes and 1 second - set in
December 1998 !