Freediver narrowly misses World Record
From the surface, the line of rope stretches into the deep until it disappears from view. To look down is to stare into a bottomless void - as terrifying and dizzying as standing on the top of a skyscraper and peering over the edge. For freedivers, this is their world - a vertical line that disappears into total darkness. It’s become the last frontier of human endeavour.
While hundreds climb Mt Everest every year, underwater there are no environmental limits to stop athletes from pushing the boundary and descending to increasingly incredible depths on just a single breath of air. It is literally, a bottomless ocean.
William Trubridge, 31, is one such athlete. Lying on his back on the water’s surface, he inflates his lungs to their maximum capacity then gulps the air like a fish to ‘pack’ in more oxygen. Then he rolls on his side and disappears into the deep, finning down for a few seconds before he disappears from view. It will be almost four minutes before he emerges again.
Trubridge descending into the deep
The New Zealander is on a bid to break the constant weight world record by diving to 125m (410ft) - equivalent to five lengths of an Olympic swimming pool. This is where the diver takes a single breath of air at the surface before descending and ascending using just a monofin for propulsion. The record attempt takes place at his training base, Dean’s Blue Hole in the Bahamas. At 202m, it is the world’s deepest known sea water blue hole - a giant underwater cave.
Trubridge descends at the rate of a metre a second. From 20m he falls like a skydiver. “It is the most beautiful and relaxing part of the dive,” comments Trubridge afterwards. “It feels like you’re being accepted into the ocean.”
At 2 minutes 10 seconds he reaches the bottom plate at 125m, rips off a velcro tag and begins the ascent back up.
After 3 minutes 45 seconds, Trubridge emerges at the surface like a cork and gasps for air. Although the actual depth of 125m is confirmed by a Suunto D-Series diving watch, Trubridge cannot claim the record. In order for a record to be official, the diver must pass stringent protocols on the surface in front of two independent judges. Trubridge failed the test.
Trubridge now knows 125m is achievable
He said: “I made it to 125m and back to the surface, but my oxygen was just too low, and I had a samba [a loss of muscular control caused by oxygen deprivation] and failed the surface protocol. I forgot to remove my goggles! There were groans and laughs, but on the whole I'm not too gutted. The dive felt good, so I know that it is within my reach.”
“There is unfinished business, but for now I will take a little time off training.”
For more information about Trubridge and his team, click here.
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