A freediver on the ocean floor

Freediving, free-diving, free diving, breath-hold diving, or skin diving, is a mode of underwater diving that relies on breath-holding until resurfacing rather than the use of breathing apparatus such as scuba gear.

Besides the limits of breath-hold, immersion in water and exposure to high ambient pressure also have physiological effects that limit the depths and duration possible in freediving.

Examples of freediving activities are traditional fishing techniques, competitive and non-competitive freediving, competitive and non-competitive spearfishing and freediving photography, synchronised swimming, underwater football, underwater rugby, underwater hockey, underwater target shooting and snorkeling. There are also a range of "competitive apnea" disciplines; in which competitors attempt to attain great depths, times, or distances on a single breath.

Historically, the term free diving was also used to refer to scuba diving, due to the freedom of movement compared with surface supplied diving.[1][2][3]


See also: Sponge diving and Pearl hunting

9th century illustration of a pearl diver

In ancient times freediving without the aid of mechanical devices was the only possibility, with the exception of the occasional use of reeds and leather breathing bladders.[4] The divers faced the same problems as divers today, such as decompression sickness and blacking out during a breath hold. Freediving was practiced in ancient cultures to gather food, harvest resources such as sponge and pearl, reclaim sunken valuables, and to help aid military campaigns.

In Ancient Greece, both Plato and Homer mention the sponge as being used for bathing. The island of Kalymnos was a main centre of diving for sponges. By using weights (skandalopetra) of as much as 15 kilograms (33 lb) to speed the descent, breath-holding divers would descend to depths up to 30 metres (98 ft) to collect sponges.[5] Harvesting of red coral was also done by divers.[citation needed]

The Mediterranean had large amounts of maritime trade. As a result of shipwrecks, particularly in the fierce winter storms, divers were often hired to salvage whatever they could from the seabed.[6] Divers would swim down to the wreck and choose the most valuable pieces to salvage.

Divers were also used in warfare. Defenses against sea vessels were often created, such as underwater barricades, and hence divers were often used to scout out the seabed when ships were approaching an enemy harbor. If barricades were found, it was divers who were used to disassemble them, if possible.[7] During the Peloponnesian War, divers were used to get past enemy blockades to relay messages as well as supplies to allies or troops that were cut off,[8] and in 332 BC, during the Siege of Tyre, the city used divers to cut the anchor cables of Alexander's attacking ships.[9]

In Japan, ama divers began to collect pearls about 2,000 years ago.[10][11] For thousands of years, most seawater pearls were retrieved by divers working in the Indian Ocean, in areas such as the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea, and in the Gulf of Mannar (between Sri Lanka and India).[12] A fragment of Isidore of Charax's Parthian itinerary was preserved in Athenaeus's 3rd-century Sophists at Dinner, recording freediving for pearls around an island in the Persian Gulf.[13]

Pearl divers near the Philippines were also successful at harvesting large pearls, especially in the Sulu Archipelago. At times, the largest pearls belonged by law to the sultan, and selling them could result in the death penalty for the seller. Nonetheless, many pearls made it out of the archipelago by stealth, ending up in the possession of the wealthiest families in Europe.[14] Pearling was popular in Qatar, Bahrain, Japan, and India. The Gulf of Mexico was also known for pearling. Native Americans harvested freshwater pearls from lakes and rivers like the Ohio, Tennessee, and Mississippi, while others dived for marine pearls from the Caribbean and waters along the coasts of Central and South America.

In 1940, Dottie Frazier pioneered freediving for women in the United States and also began teaching classes. It was also during this time that she began to design and sell rubber suits for Navy UDT divers.[15]

Freediving activities

Recreational hunting and gathering


Spearfishing is an ancient method of fishing that has been used throughout the world for millennia. Early civilizations were familiar with the custom of spearing fish from rivers and streams using sharpened sticks.

Today modern spearfishing makes use of elastic powered spearguns and slings, or compressed gas pneumatic powered spearguns, to strike the hunted fish. Specialised techniques and equipment have been developed for various types of aquatic environments and target fish. Spearfishing may be done using free-diving, snorkelling, or scuba diving techniques. Spearfishing while using scuba equipment is illegal in some countries. The use of mechanically powered spearguns[clarification needed] is also outlawed in some countries and jurisdictions.[citation needed] Spearfishing is highly selective, normally uses no bait and has limited by-catch.

Collection of shellfish

Some types of shellfish are collected by freediving.[citation needed] One example is the historical recreational collection of abalone in South Africa,[citation needed] before illegal harvesting reduced stocks to levels which resulted in recreational collection being banned indefinitely.[citation needed] This did not completely stop illegal harvesting because selling illegally harvested abalone remained lucrative.[citation needed]

Competitive breath-hold watersports


Aquathlon (also known as underwater wrestling) is an underwater sport where two competitors wearing masks and fins wrestle underwater in an attempt to remove a ribbon from each other's ankle band in order to win the bout. The "combat" takes place in a 5-metre (16 ft) square ring within a swimming pool, and is made up of three 30-second rounds, with a fourth round played in the event of a tie. The sport originated during the 1980s in the former USSR (now Russia) and was first played at international level in 1993. It was recognised by the Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques (CMAS) in 2008.[16][17][18][19]

Competitive spearfishing

Competitive spearfishing is defined by the world governing body CMAS as "the hunting and capture of fish underwater without the aid of artificial breathing devices, using gear that depends entirely on the physical strength of the competitor." They publish a set of competition rules that are used by affiliated organisations.[20][21]

Synchronised swimming

A member of the Japanese team is thrown up in the air by other members under the water during the team's free routine at the 2013 French Open.

Synchronized swimming is a hybrid form of swimming, dance, and gymnastics, consisting of swimmers (either solos, duets, trios, combos, or teams) performing a synchronized routine of elaborate moves in the water, accompanied by music. Synchronized swimming demands advanced water skills, and requires great strength, endurance, flexibility, grace, artistry and precise timing, as well as exceptional breath control when upside down underwater. During lifts swimmers are not allowed to touch the bottom.[citation needed]

Traditionally it was a women's sport, but following the addition of a new mixed-pair event, FINA World Aquatics competitions are open to men since the 16th 2015 championships in Kazan, and the other international and national competitions allow male competitors in every event. However, men are currently still barred from competing in the Olympics. Both USA Synchro and Synchro Canada allow men to compete with women. Most European countries also allow men to compete, and France even allows male only podiums, according to the number of participants. In the past decade, more men are becoming involved in the sport and a global biannual competition called Men's Cup has been steadily growing.[citation needed]

Swimmers perform two routines for the judges, one technical and one free, as well as age group routines and figures. Synchronized swimming is both an individual and team sport. Swimmers compete individually during figures, and then as a team during the routine. Figures are made up of a combination of skills and positions that often require control, strength, and flexibility. Swimmers are ranked individually for this part of the competition. The routine involves teamwork and synchronization. It is choreographed to music and often has a theme. Synchronized swimming is governed internationally by FINA (Fédération Internationale de Natation).

Underwater hockey

Two players compete for the puck in underwater hockey

Underwater hockey (also called octopush, mainly in the United Kingdom) is a globally played limited-contact sport in which two teams compete to manoeuvre a hockey puck across the bottom of a swimming pool into the opposing team's goal by propelling it with a hockey stick. The sport originated in England in 1954 when Alan Blake, the founder of the newly formed Southsea Sub-Aqua Club, invented the game he called octopush to keep the club's members interested and active during the cold winter months, when open-water diving lost its appeal.[22] Underwater hockey is now played worldwide, governed by the Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques (CMAS).[23] The first Underwater Hockey World Championship was held in Canada in 1980, after a planned championship in 1979 was scuttled by international politics and apartheid.[citation needed]

Underwater football

US Navy Students playing underwater football

Underwater football is a two-team underwater sport that shares common elements with underwater hockey and underwater rugby. As with both of those games, it is played in a swimming pool with snorkeling equipment (mask, snorkel, and fins). The goal of the game is to manoeuvre (by carrying and passing) a slightly negatively buoyant ball from one side of a pool to the other by players who are completely submerged underwater. Scoring is achieved by placing the ball (under control) in the gutter on the side of the pool. Variations include using a toy rubber torpedo as the ball, and weighing down buckets to rest on the bottom and serve as goals.[citation needed]

It is played in the Canadian provinces of Alberta, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Saskatchewan.[24]

Underwater rugby

Underwater rugby is an underwater team sport. During a match, two teams try to score a negatively buoyant ball (filled with saltwater) into the opponents’ goal at the bottom of a swimming pool. It originated from within the physical fitness training regime existing in German diving clubs during the early 1960s and has little in common with rugby football except for the name. It was recognised by the Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques (CMAS) in 1978 and was first played as a world championship in 1980.[citation needed]

Underwater target shooting

Underwater target shooting is an underwater sport that tests a competitors’ ability to accurately use a speargun via a set of individual and team events conducted in a swimming pool using free diving or apnea technique. The sport was developed in France during the early 1980s and is currently practised mainly in Europe. It is known as Tir sur cible subaquatique in French and as Tiro al Blanco Subacuático in Spanish.

Competitive apnea

Monofin freediver

Competitive freediving is currently governed by two world associations: AIDA International[25] and Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques (CMAS). Historically, there were two more organisations that regulated freediving records and activities — International Association of Freedivers (IAFD) and Freediving Regulations and Education Entity (FREE).[26][27] Each organization has its own rules on recognizing a record attempt which can be found on the organization's website. Alongside competitive disciplines, there are record disciplines — disciplines that are not held in competitions, that are just for setting world records. There is a third organization, Guinness, which in addition to AIDA and CMAS presides over record disciplines.[citation needed]

Almost all types of competitive freediving are individual sports based on the best individual achievement. Exceptions to this rule are the bi-annual AIDA Team World Championship, where the combined score of the team members makes up the team's total points, and Skandalopetra diving competitions held by CMAS, the only truly ‘team’ event in freediving for which teams are formed by two athletes: one acting as the diver (βουτηχτής, voutichtis) and the other acting as an assistant (κολαουζέρης, kolaouzeris).


There are currently eleven recognized disciplines defined by AIDA and CMAS, and a dozen more that are only practiced locally.[clarification needed][citation needed] All disciplines can be practiced by both men and women, and only CMAS currently separates records in fresh water from those at sea. The disciplines of AIDA can be done both in competition and as a record attempt, with the exception of variable weight and no limits, which are both solely for record attempts. For all AIDA depth disciplines, the depth the athlete will attempt is announced before the dive; this is accepted practice for both competition and record attempts. Most divers choose monofin (MF) over bifins (BF) where there is a choice.

Discipline Measure­ment AIDA[28] CMAS[29] Description
open water pool open water pool
Constant weight apnea (CWT) depth Green tickY Green tickY Maximum depth following a guide line. The line to act solely as a guide and only a single hold of the rope to stop the descent and start the ascent is permitted. Dropping dive weights is not permitted. Both bi-fins and monofin are permitted and the technique is irrelevant.
Constant weight bi-fins (CWT BF, CWTB) depth Green tickY Green tickY As for CWT above but monofins are not permitted and the athlete is prohibited to use a dolphin kick for his / her propulsion.
Constant weight without fins (CNF) depth Green tickY Green tickY As for CWT above but no swimming aids such as fins are permitted. This discipline is the most recently recognised discipline having been recognised by AIDA since 2003.
Dynamic apnea without fins (DNF) horizontal distance Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Maximum distance underwater, in a pool, no swimming aids such as fins are permitted (AIDA).
Dynamic apnea with fins (DYN) horizontal distance Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Maximum horizontal distance on one breath in a pool. Monofin or bi-fins are permitted and the technique is irrelevant.
Dynamic apnea with bifins (DYN BF, DYNB) horizontal distance Green tickY Green tickY Same as DYN above but monofins are not permitted and the athlete is prohibited to use a dolphin kick for his / her propulsion.
Free immersion apnea (FIM) depth Green tickY Green tickY Maximum depth following a vertical line. The line may be used to pull down to depth and back to the surface. No ballast or fins are permitted. It is known for its ease compared with the Constant Weight disciplines, while still not permitting the release of weights.
Jump blue (JB, also the cube) horizontal distance Red XN Green tickY Maximum distance covered around a 15-metre square at a depth of 10 metres. Monofin, bi-fins or no fins are all permitted. Sled may be used for descent.
NLT (No Limit) apnea depth Green tickY Red XN Any means of breath-hold diving to depth and return to the surface is permitted provided that a guideline is used to measure the distance. Most divers use a weighted sled to descend and an inflatable bag to ascend.
Skandalopetra depth & min. time Red XN Green tickY The only true team event in freediving. Diver 1 descends, usually assisted by a stone or marble slab attached to a rope, while Diver 2 waits on the surface. Diver 1 reaches the target depth and is hauled to the surface by Diver 2 using only muscle power. No diving mask, suit or fins are permitted, only nose clip.
Static apnea (STA) max. time Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Timed breathhold endurance while floating on the surface or standing on the bottom. Usually in a pool.
Static apnea with pure oxygen (STA O2) max. time Red XN Red XN Timed breathhold endurance, pre-breathing 100% oxygen for up to 30 minutes prior to the breathhold is permitted. Usually in a pool. Although no longer recognised by either AIDA or CMAS there were three instances of records being approved by AIDA.
Speed-endurance apnea (S&E apnea)[30] min. time Red XN Green tickY Shortest time over a fixed, underwater distance. An endurance sub-discipline is swum in fractions of a pool length alternating apnoea swimming with passive recovery at the intervals. Disciplines are SPE – 100m speed apnoea, END 16x50 – 800m and END 8x50 – 400m endurance apnoea.
Variable weight apnea without fins (VNF) depth Red XN Green tickY Descent is assisted by a weighted sled sliding down a line, the ascent may be by pulling up along the line or swimming without fins.
Variable weight apnea (VWT) depth Green tickY Green tickY Descent is assisted by a weighted sled sliding down a line, the ascent may be either by:
1.) pulling up along the line or swimming with or without fins under AIDA rules
2.) swimming with fins under CMAS rules.
Herbert Nitsch, World Record Holder Freediver
Overview of the above disciplines[31][32][30]
Discipline Aids permitted Weight
Descent Ascent
CNF None
or weight
None No
and/or weight
BF / MF No
and/or weight
FIM Rope
or none
or none
JB Sled and/or
BF / MF or none
or none
Sled only
NLT (No Limit) (Only AIDA) Any Any Yes
Skandalopetra Stone Hauled up Yes
S&E Apnoea
VNF (only CMAS) Sled Rope
or none
VWT Sled BF / MF
or rope

World records

The best official result in static apnea is the Guinness WR of 11:54 by Branko Petrović in 2014, a freediver who has results over 10 minutes under both AIDA and CMAS. The best no limits result is 253.2m by Herbert Nitsch in 2012; his intention of having the dive sanctioned by AIDA fell through due to a sponsoring conflict. After 2001, AIDA International no longer separated the records achieved in fresh water from those in the sea.

CMAS recognized world records

As of 1 January 2024, the CMAS recognized world records are:[33]

Discipline Gender Depth
Time Name/Country Date Place
Static apnea STA Men 10:45.000  Branko Petrović (SRB) 2017-11-11 Subotica, Serbia
Women 08:53.150  Veronika Dittes (AUT) 2017-06-15 Cagliari, Italy
Dynamic apnea with fin DYN Men 321.43  Mateusz Malina (POL) 2022-06-15 Belgrade, Serbia
Women 275.36  Mirela Kardašević (CRO) 2022-06-15 Belgrade, Serbia
under ice Men 175  Arthur Guérin-Boëri (FRA) 2017-03-11 Lake Sonnanen, Finland
Women 140  Valentina Cafolla (CRO) 2024-2-23 Lake Anterselva South Tyrol, Italy[34]
open water Men 200  Sertan Aydin (TUR)
Dynamic apnea with bifins DBF Men 274.70  Guillaume Bourdila (FRA) 2022-06-13 Belgrade, Serbia
Women 250.00  Mirela Kardašević (CRO) 2022-06-13 Belgrade, Serbia
Dynamic apnea without fins DNF-50 Men 236  Guillaume Bourdila (FRA) 2019-06-19 Istanbul, Turkey
Women 210  Julia Kozerska (POL) 2022-06-12 Belgrade, Serbia
DNF-25 Men 220.70  Vanja Peles (CRO) 2021-03-28 Sisak, Croatia
Women 206.20  Mirela Kardasevic (CRO) 2021-03-28 Sisak, Croatia
Speed 100 m. SPE Men 00:30.350  Malte Striegler (GER) 2018-06-15 Lignano, Italy
Women 00:35.860  Vera Yarovitskaya (RUS) 2017-06-15 Cagliari, Italy
Endurance END16x50 Men 09:10.030  Max Poschart (GER) 2019-06-19 Istanbul, Turkey
Women 10:41.120  Evgeniia Kozyreva (RUS) 2021-06-23 Belgrade, Serbia
END8x50 Men 03:25.720  Mikhail Drozdov (RUS) 2019-06-22 Istanbul, Turkey
Women 04:10.190  Chiara Zaffaroni (ITA) 2023-05-10 Kuwait
END4x50 Men
Women 01:33.860  Chiara Zaffaroni (ITA) 2023-05-11 Kuwait
Jump blue apnea with fins at sea Men 201.61  Arthur Guérin-Boëri (FRA) 2015-10-09 Ischia, Italy
Women 190.48  Alessia Zecchini (ITA) 2015-10-09 Ischia, Italy
fresh water Men 170  Alfredo Leonidas Rosado Estrada (ECU)
Women 132.92  Gilda Rivadeneria Montalvo (ECU)
Constant weight with fins at sea Men 136  Alexey Molchanov (RUS) 2023-08-23 Roatan, Honduras
Women 122  Alenka Artnik (SLO) 2021-07-21 Long Island, Bahamas
fresh water Men 80  Michele Tomasi (ITA)
Women 57  Tanya Streeter (UK) 1998-12-28 Ocala, Fl, USA
Constant weight with bifins (CWT BF) at sea Men 124  Alexey Molchanov (RUS) 2023-08-25 Roatan, Honduras
Women 106  Alenka Artnik (SLO) 2021-09-30 Kaş, Turkey
fresh water Men 75  Michele Tomasi (ITA)
Constant weight without fins at sea Men 100  Alexey Molchanov (RUS) 2023-08-23 Roatan, Honduras
Women 78  Kateryna Sadurska (UKR) 2023-08-24 Roatan, Honduras
fresh water Men 65  Michal Rišian (CZE) 2016-07-10 Weyregg, Austria
Free immersion apnea at sea Men 132  Petar Klovar (CRO) 2022-10-04 Kaş, Turkey
Women 72  Alessia Zecchini (ITA) 2021-07-17 Long Island, Bahamas
Variable weight apnea monofin at sea Men 131  Homer Leuci (ITA) 2012-09-11 Soverato, Italy
Women 116  Lena Balta (SER) 2022-06-25 Sharm el Sheik, Egypt
Variable weight apnea bifins at sea Men 130  William Winram (SWI) 2021-10-21 Sharm el Sheik, Egypt
Women -
Variable weight apnea without fins (VNF) at sea Men 140  William Winram (SWI) 2023-12-11 Sharm el_sheijk, Egypt
Women 106  Şahika Ercümen (TUR) 2023-10-17 Hatay, Turkey
Skandalopetra at sea Men 112  Andreas Güldner (GER) 2014-06-26 Red Sea, Egypt
Women 68.9  Karol Meyer (BRA) 2012 Bonaire, Caribbean

AIDA recognized world records

The AIDA recognized world records are:[35][36][37]

Discipline Gender Depth [m] Distance [m] Time Name Date Place
Static apnea (STA) Men 11 min 35 sec  Stéphane Mifsud (FRA) 2009-06-08 Hyères, Var, France
Women 9 min 02 sec  Natalia Molchanova (RUS) 2013-06-29 Belgrade, Serbia
Dynamic apnea with fins (DYN) Men 316.53  Mateusz Malina (POL)[38] 2019-06-22 Turku, Finland
Women 257  Magdalena Solich-Talanda (POL) 2019-10-13 Vienna, Austria
Dynamic apnea with bifins (DYNB) Men 250  Mateusz Malina (POL) 2019-10-13 Vienna, Austria
Women 208  Kardasevic Mirela (CRO) 2019-03-07 Moscow, Russia
Dynamic apnea without fins (DNF) Men 244  Mateusz Malina (POL) 2016-07-02 Turku, Finland
Women 191  Magdalena Solich-Talanda (POL) 2017-07-01 Opole, Poland
Constant weight apnea (CWT) Men 133  Alexey Molchanov (RUS) 2023-07-22 Dean's Blue Hole, Long Island Bahamas
Women 123  Alessia Zecchini (ITA) 2023-04-24 Camotes Island, Philippines
Constant weight apnea with bifins (CWTB) Men 122  Arnaud Jerald (FRA) 2023-07-20 Dean's Blue Hole, Long Island Bahamas
Women 111  Alenka Artnik (SVN) 2023-07-30 Dean's Blue Hole, Long Island Bahamas
Constant weight apnea without fins (CNF) Men 102  William Trubridge (NZL) 2016-07-20 Dean's Blue Hole, Long Island Bahamas
Women 73  Alessia Zecchini (ITA) 2016-04-26 Dean's Blue Hole, Long Island Bahamas
Free immersion apnea (FIM) Men 133  Alexey Molchanov (RUS) 2023-07-21 Dean's Blue Hole, Long Island Bahamas
Women 102  Fatima Korok (HUN) 2023-07-24 Dean's Blue Hole, Long Island Bahamas
Variable weight apnea (VWT) Men 150  Walid Boudhiaf (TUN) 2021-01-17 Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt
Women 130  Nanja van den Broek (NED) 2015-10-18 Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt
No Limit apnea (NLT) Men 214  Herbert Nitsch (AUT) 2012-06-06 Santorini, Greece
Women 160  Tanya Streeter (UK) 2002-08-17 Turks and Caicos
Discipline Gender Points Team / Individual Date Place
AIDA team Men 840.6  CRO
Goran Čolak, Božidar Petani, Veljano Zanki
2012-09-16 Nice, France [39][40]
Men 313.3  William Trubridge (NZL) 2010-07-06 Okinawa, Japan [41][42]

Guinness recognized world records

The following table only includes those disciplines that are modifications of existing AIDA or CMAS disciplines and Guinness-exclusive (as it recognizes and inherits some AIDA/CMAS records) or Guinness-conceived (CMAS and AIDA do/did sanction at some time) disciplines.

As of 25 February 2018:

Discipline Gender Depth [m] Distance [m] Time Name Date Place
STA O2 Men 24:11  Budimir Šobat (CRO) 24 February 2018 Zagreb
Women 18:32  Karol Meyer (BRA) 10 July 2009 Florianopolis
DYN under ice Men 175 details under CMAS world records
Women 125
DNF under ice Men 84  Nik Linder (GER) Feb 2013 Weissensee [43][44]
DNF under ice (no diving suit) Men 76.2  Stig Severinsen (DEN) Apr 2013 Qordlortoq Lake [45][46]
Women 50  Johanna Nordblad (FIN) Mar 2015 Päijänne [47]
NLT under ice Men 65  Andreas Pap (SRB) Feb 2013 Weissensee [43]


Recreational freediving at the Blue Hole in the Red Sea

Freediving as a recreational activity is widely practiced and differs significantly from scuba diving. Although there are potential risks to all freediving, it can be safely practiced using a wide range of skill levels from the average snorkeler to the professional freediver. Compared to scuba diving, freediving offers:[citation needed]

Freshwater springs, often with excellent visibility, provide good freediving opportunities but with greater risks.[citation needed] Diving into spring caverns with restricted access to the surface is very different from diving in open water. The time available to a freediver to solve problems underwater before hypoxia sets in is severely restricted in comparison with scuba. Freediving into confined cave systems such as Eagle's Nest Cave, Florida and Blue Springs State Park, Florida has resulted in several deaths. Cave freediving is commonly discouraged in basic freediver safety training.


See also: Human physiology of underwater diving

This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (July 2017)

The human body has several oxygen-conserving adaptations that manifest under diving conditions as part of the mammalian diving reflex. The adaptations include:


See also: Skandalopetra diving

Breath-holding ability, and hence dive performance, is a function of on-board oxygen stores, scope for metabolic rate reduction, efficient oxygen utilization, and hypoxia tolerance.[50] Athletes attempt to accomplish this in various ways. Some divers use "packing", which increases lung volume beyond normal total lung capacity.[51] In addition, training is allocated to enhance blood and muscle oxygen stores, to a limited extent.[clarification needed] Most divers rely on increasing fitness by increasing CO2 tolerance and lung capacity. Simple breath-holding practice is highly effective for the build-up of tolerance to CO2 and to some degree increased lung capacity. In an interview on the radio talk show Fresh Air, journalist James Nestor, author of the book Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art,[52] stated: "Some divers have a lung capacity of 14 liters, which is about double the size for a typical adult male. They weren't born this way. ... They trained themselves to breathe in ways to profoundly affect their physical bodies."[53]

This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (October 2019)


See also: Skandalopetra diving

This section is empty. You can help by adding to it. (October 2019)


There is no requirement by law that free-divers are required to do freediving courses or get certified. Although, due to the risks, it is recommended to take lessons and get certified. The free-divers course contains three levels: theory studies, a confined water sessions generally completed in a swimming pool, and open water sessions in the ocean or Reservoir. [54] [55]


Training for freediving can take many forms, some of which can be performed on land. The University of Miami presents a scientific freediving class that was developed by Claire Paris, a professor and freediver,[56] the class is the first of its kind at the university.[57][58]

One example is the apnea walk. This consists of a preparation "breathe-up", followed by a short (typically 1 minute) breath hold taken at rest. Without breaking the hold, participants then begin walking as far as possible until it becomes necessary to breathe again. Athletes can do close to 400 meters in training this way.[citation needed]

This form of training is good for accustoming muscles to work under anaerobic conditions, and for tolerance to CO2 build-up in the circulation. It is also easy to gauge progress, as increasing distance can be measured.[citation needed]

Before competition attempts, freedivers perform a preparation sequence, which usually consists of physical stretching, mental exercise and breath exercise. It may include a succession of variable length static apnea and special purging deep breaths. Results of the preparation sequence are slower metabolism, lower heart rate and breath rate, and lower levels of carbon dioxide in the bloodstream[59] and overall mental equilibrium.[citation needed]



See also: Diving hazards § The diving environment, and Diving hazards § Hazards inherent in the diver

The most obvious hazard is lack of access to air for breathing – a necessity for human life. This can result in asphyxia from drowning if the diver does not reach the surface while still capable of holding their breath and resuming breathing. The risk depends on several factors, including the depth, duration and shape of the dive profile.

Latent hypoxia is a specific hazard of deeper freedives. This effect can cause hypoxic blackout during surfacing.

There is also a wide range of environmental hazards possible specific to the site and water and weather conditions at the time of diving, and there may be other hazards specific to the freediving activity.

This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (October 2018)


See also: Freediving blackout

Failing to respond to physiological warning signals, or crossing the mental barrier by strong will, may lead to blackout underwater or on reaching the surface.[10][60] Trained freedivers are well aware of this and competitions must be held under strict supervision and with competent first-aiders on standby.[61] However, this does not eliminate the risk of blackout. Freedivers are encouraged by certification and sporting organisations to dive only with a 'buddy' who accompanies them, observing from in the water at the surface, and ready to dive to the rescue if the diver loses consciousness during the ascent. This is only reasonably practicable if the water clarity allows observation, and the buddy is capable of safely reaching the diver.[citation needed] Due to the nature of the sport, the risks of freediving can be reduced by strict adherence to safety measures as an integral part of the activity, but cannot be eliminated. Competition rules may require all participants to be adept in rescue and resuscitation.[citation needed]

Statistics and notable accidents

Nicholas Mevoli, a diver from New York died on 17 November 2013 after losing consciousness on surfacing from a 3-minute 38 second dive to a depth of 72 metres (236 ft) during an official record attempt in the "constant weight without fins" event. He had previously reached greater depths and longer times in other disciplines.[62]

Fiction and documentaries



See also


  1. ^ Rebikoff, Dimitri (1955). Free Diving. Sidgwick & Jackson.
  2. ^ Owen, David M. (1955). A Manual for Free-Divers Using Compressed Air. Pergamon.
  3. ^ Tailliez, Philippe; Dumas, Frederic; Cousteau, Jacques-Yves; et al. (1957). The Complete Manual of Free Diving. New York: G. P. Putnam's sons.
  4. ^ Ivanova, Desislava; Nihrizov, Hristo; Zhekov, Orlin (1999). "The Very Beginning". Human Contact With the Underwater World. Think Quest. Archived from the original on 2009-12-18. Retrieved 2009-09-06.
  5. ^ Sandra Hendrikse; André Merks (12 May 2009). "Diving the Skafandro suit". Diving Heritage. Retrieved 16 October 2009.
  6. ^ Galili, Ehud; Rosen, Baruch (2008). "Ancient Remotely-Operated Instruments Recovered Under Water off the Israeli Coast". International Journal of Nautical Archaeology. 37 (2). Nautical Archaeology Society: 283–94. Bibcode:2008IJNAr..37..283G. doi:10.1111/j.1095-9270.2008.00187.x. S2CID 110312998.
  7. ^ Frost, F. J. (1968). "Scyllias: Diving in Antiquity". Greece & Rome. Second Series. 15 (2). Cambridge University Press: 180–5. doi:10.1017/S0017383500017435.
  8. ^ Thucydides (2009) [431 BCE]. History of the Peloponnesian War. Translated by Crawley, Richard.
  9. ^ Arrian of Nicomedia. "Chapter XXI: Siege of Tyre". The Anabasis of Alexander; or, The History of the Wars and Conquests of Alexander the Great. Translated by Chinnock, E. J. London: Hodder & Stoughton.
  10. ^ a b Lundgren, Claus E. G.; Ferrigno, Massimo, eds. (1985). "Physiology of Breath-hold Diving. 31st Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society Workshop". UHMS Publication Number 72(WS-BH)4-15-87. Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society. Archived from the original on June 2, 2009. Retrieved 16 April 2009. ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  11. ^ Rahn, H.; Yokoyama, T. (1965). Physiology of Breath-Hold Diving and the Ama of Japan. United States: National Academy of Sciences – National Research Council. p. 369. ISBN 0-309-01341-0. Archived from the original on October 7, 2008. Retrieved 16 April 2009.((cite book)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  12. ^ De Silva, K. M. (1995). History of Ceylon: History of Sri Lanka. Vol. 2. Peradeniya: Ceylon University Press. p. 56. ISBN 955-589-004-8. OCLC 952216.
  13. ^ Ἰσίδωρος Χαρακηνός [Isidore of Charax]. Τὸ τῆς Παρθίας Περιηγητικόν [Tò tēs Parthías Periēgētikón, A Journey around Parthia]. c. 1st century AD (in Ancient Greek) in Ἀθήναιος [Athenaeus]. Δειπνοσοφισταί [Deipnosophistaí, Sophists at Dinner], Book III, 93E. c. 3rd century (in Ancient Greek) Trans. Charles Burton Gulick as Athenaeus, Vol. I, p. 403. Harvard University Press (Cambridge), 1927. Accessed 13 Aug 2014.
  14. ^ Streeter's Pearls and pearling life dedicates a chapter to the Sooloo islands. Streeter was one of the leading and most influential English jewelers in the 19th century and outfitted his own schooner the Shree-Pas-Sair which he sailed as well and on which he himself went pearl fishing in 1880. (For an illustration of divers on a schooner, see Pearl fishers obtaining the world's best pearls. Streeter furthermore led a consortium to compete with Baron Rothschild to lease Ruby mines in Burma.
  15. ^ Russ. "Dottie Frazier Pioneer/Women". skindivinghistory.com. Retrieved 2018-03-09.
  16. ^ "History of Aquathlon". International Aquathlon Association. Archived from the original on 8 June 2004.
  17. ^ "Philosophy of the I.A.A". International Aquathlon Association. Archived from the original on 8 June 2004. Retrieved 6 October 2014.
  18. ^ Cedeño O., Miguel A. (21 February 2009). "The Aquathlon (Fight Underwater) continues its development in 2009". SPORTALSUB.NET. Archived from the original on 28 September 2022. Retrieved 31 October 2016.
  19. ^ "Aquatlon". History of CMAS. CMAS. Archived from the original on 2013-05-16.
  20. ^ "About Spearfishing". www.cmas.org. World Underwater Federation (CMAS). Archived from the original on 23 March 2023. Retrieved 25 August 2017.
  21. ^ "Underwater Fishing (Spear fishing) International Rules - English version". www.cmas.org. World Underwater Federation (CMAS). 23 January 2015. Retrieved 25 August 2017.
  22. ^ "The History of Underwater Hockey". www.cmas.org. Archived from the original on 5 April 2017. Retrieved 5 August 2014.
  23. ^ "CMAS Underwater Hockey Commission". www.cmas.org. Retrieved 5 August 2014.
  24. ^ "Where is it Played". underwaterfootball.com. Retrieved 7 November 2014.
  25. ^ McKie, N. (2004). "Freediving in cyberspace". Journal of the South Pacific Underwater Medicine Society. 34: 101–03. Archived from the original on October 5, 2013. Retrieved 5 October 2013.((cite journal)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  26. ^ Engelbrecht, Christian (January 2009). "History of freediving". seanomad-freediving.com. Retrieved 9 August 2020.
  27. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2018-06-18. Retrieved 2018-06-18.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  28. ^ AIDA International. "AIDA-disciplines". Archived from the original on 20 November 2015. Retrieved 5 August 2015.
  29. ^ Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques. "CMAS-disciplines". Archived from the original on 19 November 2017. Retrieved 5 August 2015.
  30. ^ a b "Freediving Disciplines Explained". www.deeperblue.com. Retrieved 9 August 2020.
  31. ^ "About Free Diving". www.cmas.org. Archived from the original on 19 November 2017. Retrieved 9 August 2020.
  32. ^ "Introducing… The Jump Blue - CMAS freediving". www.freedive-earth.com. Retrieved 9 August 2020.
  33. ^ Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques. "Apnoea Records" (PDF). www.cmas.org. Retrieved 28 January 2024.
  34. ^ "New CMAS World Record For Freediving Under Ice". divemagazine. 23 February 2024. Retrieved 2 March 2024.
  35. ^ AIDA International. "World Records". Archived from the original on 17 August 2016. Retrieved 1 June 2017.
  36. ^ "Apnoetauchen Rekorde: Alle Weltrekorde (2020)". apnoetauchen-lernen.de (in German). 2020-01-24. Retrieved 2020-05-28.
  37. ^ depthdev.com; Development, Depth. "News | VERTICAL BLUE". News | VERTICAL BLUE. Retrieved 2023-07-26.
  38. ^ Klugstedt, Sebastian (2019-12-16). "Apnoetauchen Rekorde: Alle Rekorde (2020) inkl. Video". freitauchen-lernen.com (in German). Retrieved 2020-04-04.
  39. ^ "Freediving World Team Championship 2012". Aida-worldchampionship.com. Retrieved 2015-04-30.
  40. ^ "Freediving World Team Championship 2012". Aida-worldchampionship.com. Retrieved 2020-08-09.
  41. ^ "Willian Trubridge"World Freediving Record Holder" signed photograph". www.trademe.co.nz. Retrieved 9 August 2020.
  42. ^ "Event Details 7th AIDA Team World Championship 2010". Aida-worldchampionship.com. Retrieved 2020-08-09.
  43. ^ a b "Two new world records under ice for Nik Linder from Freiburg". bonex-systeme.de. Retrieved 9 August 2020.
  44. ^ "Rekorde & Disziplinen". free-diving.de (in German). Retrieved 9 August 2020.
  45. ^ "Johanna Nordblad Swims 50m Under Ice For New Guinness World Record". www.deeperblue.com. Retrieved 13 August 2020.
  46. ^ "- YouTube". YouTube.
  47. ^ "Under Ice, 50M new world record". .freedive-earth.com. Retrieved 9 August 2020.
  48. ^ Wong, R. M. (1999). "Taravana revisited: Decompression illness after breath-hold diving". South Pacific Underwater Medicine Society Journal. 29 (3). ISSN 0813-1988. OCLC 16986801. Archived from the original on 21 August 2009. Retrieved 8 April 2008.((cite journal)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  49. ^ Milton, Sarah (2004). "Go ahead, vent your spleen!". Journal of Experimental Biology. 207 (3): 390. doi:10.1242/jeb.00794.
  50. ^ Schagatay E (2009). "Predicting performance in competitive apnoea diving. Part I: static apnoea". Diving Hyperb Med. 39 (2): 88–99. PMID 22753202. Archived from the original on October 8, 2013. Retrieved 6 October 2013.((cite journal)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  51. ^ Simpson, G.; Ferns, J.; Murat, S. (2003). "Pulmonary effects of 'lung packing' by buccal pumping in an elite breath-hold diver". Journal of the South Pacific Underwater Medicine Society. 33: 122–126. Archived from the original on October 8, 2013. Retrieved 14 October 2016.((cite journal)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  52. ^ Nestor, James (26 May 2020). Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art. Penguin Publishing Company. ISBN 9780735213616.
  53. ^ Gross, Terri. "How The 'Lost Art' Of Breathing Can Impact Sleep And Resilience". npr.org. Retrieved 29 May 2020.
  54. ^ Outfitters, Adreno-Ocean. "How To Start Freediving: Training and Courses". Adreno - Ocean Outfitters. Retrieved 2023-12-27.
  55. ^ "Becoming a Certified PADI Freediver™ FAQs". PADI. Retrieved 2023-12-27.
  56. ^ "RSMAS General (RSM) < University of Miami". bulletin.miami.edu. Retrieved 2021-10-16.
  57. ^ Tannen, Janette Neuwahl (October 23, 2020). "Oceanographer finds solace under the surface". news.miami.edu. Retrieved 2021-10-16.
  58. ^ Paris, Claire; Paris, Ricardo (August 1, 2020). "Freediving for Science". Divers Alert Network. Retrieved 2021-10-16.
  59. ^ Pollock, Neal W.; Vann, Richard D.; Thalmann, Edward D.; Lundgren, Claus E. G. (1997). Maney, E. J. Jr.; Ellis, C. H. Jr. (eds.). Oxygen-Enhanced Breath-hold Diving, Phase I: Hyperventilation and Carbon Dioxide Elimination. Diving for Science 1997. Proceedings of the American Academy of Underwater Sciences. No. 17th Annual Scientific Diving Symposium. Archived from the original on June 2, 2009. Retrieved 16 April 2009.((cite conference)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  60. ^ Lindholm, P.; Pollock, N. W.; Lundgren, C. E. (2006). Breath-hold diving. Proceedings of the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society/Divers Alert Network 2006 June 20–21 Workshop. Durham, NC: Divers Alert Network. ISBN 978-1-930536-36-4. Archived from the original on October 7, 2008. Retrieved 30 April 2008.((cite book)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  61. ^ Fitz-Clarke, J. R. (2006). "Adverse events in competitive breath-hold diving". Undersea Hyperb Med. 33 (1): 55–62. PMID 16602257. Archived from the original on August 20, 2008. Retrieved 6 October 2013.((cite journal)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  62. ^ Skolnick, Adam (17 November 2013). "A Deep-Water Diver From Brooklyn Dies After Trying for a Record". The New York Times. Retrieved 30 November 2013.
  63. ^ "Ocean Men: Extreme Dive (2001)". IMDb. IMDb.com, Inc. 31 August 2001b. Retrieved 15 June 2018.
  64. ^ My Pilot, Whale on YouTube Dolphin_Embassy, 24 July 2015

Further reading