The beginnings of Freediving
The history of freediving is a long and interesting one. People have been freediving in some form or another for over 8000 years. Lets take a look at some of history’s greatest freeedivers,
The most well known ancient freedivers would have to be the sponge divers from Greece. The divers would look for the sponges from a boat on the surface. When found they used a freediving method called skalantopetra. This involved tying a heavy rock about 15 kilos tied to a rope and using it to descend. Afterwards the rest of the crew would pull the diver back up using the rope. Divers would go down to around 30 metres and as long as 5 minutes.
Pearl diving was the most popular way to collect the oysters from the seabed before the invention of pearl farming. The Japanese Ama divers being the most famous and which are still around today in small numbers. These divers were always women and also hunted for shellfish, lobster, octopus and other food. They keep diving well into old age and are even seen as some sort of a tourist attraction in Japan.
The military has also used freedivers during wars to disarm and plant underwater bombs and mines. Frogmen were trained to do all this on breath hold before to invention of scuba equipment.
Modern Freediving as a sport
In modern times the first recorded freedive was by a man named Raimondo Bucher. In 1949 the Italian dove down 30 metres to the bottom of a lake in Capri. Waiting for him there was a scuba diver with a package which Raimondo then brought back up to the surface to win a 5000 lira bet.
For the next 30 years Enzo Maiorca and Jacques Mayol were the main 2 rivals competing to be the deepest man alive. Mayol reaching the 105 metre mark.
These 2 amazing divers were then followed by another well known and public rivalry. Umberto Pellizzari competed against Pipin Ferreras all through the 90s with Pellizzari eventually being declared the deepest man alive in 1999 with a No Limits dive to 150m.
Herbert Nitsch is currently the holder of the deepest man in the world title. He broke a No Limits record to 214 m in 2007. Nitsch also managed to reach a depth of 253m but reportedly needed assistance on the last 10 metres of the dive
It was also in the 90s that AIDA (International Association for the Development of Apnea) was founded. AIDA judge and verify all new freediving record attempts. AIDA also developed a freediving education system which is what we use here at Freediving.Net.
Every year new freediving records are being broken and history is being written. Who knows what is still to come in this exciting sport.