on Wednesday, June 1st, 2016
  • Action Adventures

Two people freediving. One prepares to jump off of an underwater cliff.

How long can you hold your breath for?

 

For most people, it’s not over 2 minutes. And that’s in a relaxed state, gently rocking in the swimming pool. If you are put in a stressful situation, the 2 minutes becomes 30 seconds — on average.

Now, what if we told you that there are people out there who can hold their breath for 24 minutes? And no, we are not talking about Henry Houdini. We mean Aleix Segura Vendrell, Spanish freediver and his breath holding record achieved on February 28, 2016.

 

Freediver?

 

Yes. Aleix Segura Vendrell professionally holds his breath so that he can dive down to incredible depth across the world.

Freediving is a form of underwater diving that relies on the diver’s ability to hold their breath until they resurface. There are no tanks or extra sources of oxygen. What you’ve managed to grab at the top is all you have to work with at the bottom.

Once dubbed “the ballsiest sport on Earth” by Mens Health magazine, it has since welcomed some of the toughest adrenaline junkies in the action sports world.

 

What makes freediving so dangerous? See for yourself:

 

  • A freediver is expected to hold their breath throughout the length of the dive. Once you go in, there is no turning back and pushing your own limits can prove to be fatal.

 

  • On a deep dive, freedivers’ lungs would shrink to the size of a fist due to water pressure.

 

  • This is aggravated by the another condition known as “blood shift”, when all the blood is squeezed from your extremities and forms a blood pool near the lungs.

 

  • In addition to the obvious issue of the dwindling oxygen supply, a freediver has to cope with pressure changes by using the so-called equalizing techniques: like pinching one’s nose and blowing at equal intervals to relieve pressure on air pockets in the body. Failure to equalize will lead to barotrauma (pressure related injury), especially at greater depths.

 

  • The effects of freediving on the person’s body are unpredictable. Literally — nobody knows, as very few people have been that deep.

 

An example?  Freediver William Trubridge, one of world’s “deepest” men, has completely lost his sense of taste on a dive in 2006. It never came back.

 

  • When reaching their destination at the bottom, divers have to fight to stay sane. Nitrogen narcosis is a condition that makes one feel extreme happiness (euphoria), when in reality they may be wasting precious time underwater. The effects of certain gasses are responsible for this state.

 

  • Even when a freediver can almost see the surface coming up, more dangers await. Shallow water blackout is a loss of consciousness caused by cerebral hypoxia towards the end of a breath-hold dive.

 

So, what makes people dive, when common sense seems to be screaming to stay ashore?

 

“It’s a mental sport as much as it is a physical one. One of the beautiful aspects of it is that it forces you to be in the moment. It’s almost impossible to be in the water and at the same time contemplating problems. As soon as you get in the water, that all dissolves and you’re just there,” — explains William Trubridge in an interview to CNN.

 

And when you look at some of the amazing footage freedivers are able to capture, you might start seeing why, for many, all the dangers are worth it.

 

We do suggest you re-read the list above after watching the videos, though. Just in case 😉

 

 

 

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