Freediving - an extreme sport

101mIts a world record63m
No breathing

Free diving:

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.

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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.Scuba is so much easier "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 surface!

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.

"Variable weight";

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 rope.

The current World Record is 120 meters, "Kikes" personal best, achieved in 1997, is 97 meters.

"No Limits";

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.

"Apnea Static";

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 !

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