Thursday, December 16, 2010

Free diver first to break 100m unassisted

On December 12, 2010, at 11:43am local time in the Bahamas,
New Zealander William Trubridge dove 100 meters into Dean's Blue Hole on Long Island
with a single breath of air and only his hands and feet to propel him down and up (no fins).

From TheGuardian / NZHerald

New Zealander William Trubridge this week became the first person to dive unassisted (without weights, fins or other aids) to a depth of 100m (328ft) on just one breath of air (held for 4 minutes, 10 seconds) only propelled by his arms and legs, diving down Dean's Blue Hole on Long Island in the Bahamas.

The famous French diver
Jacques Mayol reached this depth in 1980 but used a weighted sled to descend and an inflated lift bag to return to the surface.

Trubridge broke the record on his second attempt of the day, after a bad start on his first try forced him to resurface.

"I entered the water and immediately started shivering. At the end of my breathe-up, as I turned to start the dive, some of the air in my lungs was forced into my mouth, and from there into my stomach. For a split-second I contemplated continuing, but it would have been foolhardy, so I aborted and rolled back onto the surface with a groan of dismay," he said.

Trying again after a short break, his body went into "autopilot" and he has few memories of the dive.

"I remember my depth alarm going off and pulling the tag from the bottom plate, 100 meters below the surface. I remember keeping my eyes half-closed and telling myself to 'relax' and 'flow' as I set off on the long swim back towards the light. And I remember erupting into celebration with my team the moment the judges displayed their white cards"

Freedriving is a dangerous sport and places intense pressure on the body.

"At 100 metres the pressure exerted by overhead water crushes [diver's] lungs to the size of small grapefruit, and the blood vessels inside them swell with blood in order to stop the lungs from imploding. The heart slows to 25 beats per minute, and [diver's] have to fight the narcotic effects of pressurised carbon dioxide and nitrogen - the so-called 'rapture of the deep' that tempts him towards a fateful sleep," said Joy Cottle from
AIDA NZ, the body representing New Zealand freedivers.

Trubridge had already broken the record the day before, but was disqualified by the judges for breaching the rules.

"Yesterday I had already touched the mark and come back cleanly, but a technicality (not taking my noseclip off during the surface protocol at the end of the dive) meant that the dive was disqualified," he said.

It was Trubridge's 13th world-record.
He set his first record of 80 metres four years ago and since then has singlehandedly raised the world-record from 80 to 100 metres.

He dedicated today's dive to New Zealand's
Hector's Dolphin, which is currently in danger of becoming extinct.

Trubridge, 30, grew up in Havelock North, but sailed the Atlantic, Caribbean and Pacific Ocean with his parents.
By age eight he was already diving to a depth of 15 metres.
Trubridge rediscovered free-diving when he was 22 and has spent hours a day underwater since then.

Here is a brief guide to "freediving":

▶ The pressure exerted by water at depths approaching 100m is so great that freedivers' lungs can be crushed to the size of a small grapefruit.

▶ Some freedivers use a special technique known as glosso- pharyngeal breathing to pack their lungs with more air as they plunge into the sea. Also known as "frog breathing", it involves using the vocal cords to force extra air into the lungs.

▶ Freediving dates back to at least 5400BC. Archaeological records from the period show Scandinavian hunters used a freediving technique to look for shellfish.

▶ While Trubridge was the first to dive to 100m without assistance, others have dived deeper with mechanical aids;
Herbert Nitsch holds the record at 214m, which he achieved with the help of a weighted sled.

▶ The most unlikely freediving folk hero is
Stathis Chatzi, who is feted for diving to a depth of 88m in 1913 to rescue a ship's anchor – despite suffering from emphysema.

Links :
  • StuffNZ : Free-diver uses yoga to break world record
  • YouTube : William Trubridge announcing "Project Hector" the 100 meter freediving world record attempt (training for Project Hector)
  • YouTube : previous records 95m / 88m
  • VerticalBlue

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