Deepest Freedive

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Posted by Jon on July 19, 2005 at 13:34:29:

In Reply to: New Scuba Diving Record Broke in Hurghada, Egypt posted by on July 19, 2005 at 11:38:31:

Divernet News, dateline 18 July 2005
Freediver shifts goalposts with mammoth dive

Patrick Musimu, from Belgium, has become by far the deepest freediver in the world by plunging to a staggering 209.6m in the sport’s No Limits category, descending on a weighted sled and shooting back to the surface behind a lift-bag.

The 209.6m dive - which beat the existing record by nearly 40m - came at the end of a three-week diving programme in Egypt, backed by the Egyptian Government’s Red Sea Association for Diving and Underwater Sports, Travel and Tourism Chamber, and search and rescue services.

With interspersed days of rest, Musimu made dives to 81m, 101m, 136.5m, 151m, 170m, 185.5m and 200m, before setting the 209.6m mark. Willing to risk big jumps in depths attempted, he is reported to have required recompression for a suspected bend after the deepest dive.

Awkwardly, the dive will not be recognised by the Association for the International Development of Apnea (AIDA), as none of its judges were involved. AIDA is accepted by the majority of competitive freedivers as their governing body. Its official champion is Frenchman Loic Leferme, who dived to 171m in October last year.

However, no-one is questioning that Musimu is a record holder in all but official name. A French film crew recorded topside preparations, and the dive was captured by sled-mounted video, which showed Musimu reaching the bottom of the measured rope before deploying his lift bag.

The dive was also recorded by two Suunto D9 computers, modified by Suunto to read beyond their normal 199m limit. “I am comfortable with the accuracy of the D9,” Jim Clymer, Suunto European Business Manager, has told Divernet. “What’s more, I was present when they measured the rope at 210.4m, which is only 80cm different from the D9.”

Musimu has refined two techniques which help him descend very quickly and to such extreme depth. One is pre-dive “packing”, where extra air is squeezed into the lungs by a series of short extra breaths. The other is to flood sinuses and Eustachian tubes during descent, once the lungs are so compressed that equalisation is impossible.

Following the dive, Musimu warned that it would be difficult for others to challenge his achievement. “My equalisation technique allowed me to reach the depth, but it certainly did not allow me to come back from it uninjured,” he said. “It is only a piece of a complex programme, which prepared my body and nervous system to support the dive and adapt to such a fast progression.

“If you ignore that fact, I am afraid the freediving world will face other casualties in the near future.”

But a challenge may not be that far off. Bill Stromberg, AIDA President, told Divernet that, in training, a diver achieved 192m two years ago. It is not clear why that dive did not lead to an officially monitored record attempt. But, implied Stromberg, it is feasible that Musimu’s depth is by no means unattainable by other freedivers. “We already know, with maths, that athletes can reach 300m-plus,” he said.

Stromberg confirmed that AIDA “cannot acknowledge anything we are not a part of”. However, expressing respect for Musimu’s achievement, he told Divernet: “Of course, personally I would congratulate him for a very impressive dive, and for the strong psyche he must have.”

A detailed news feature on Patrick Musimu’s achievement, with further comment from the diver and others involved, will appear in the September issue of DIVER magazine.

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