The History of Freediving

The story of freedivingbegins as far back as 4500 b.c, when people had dived (without tank, of course) to gather sea shells and other marine animals for their survival.
We all know the stories about the Korean and Philippine women divers that execute breathhold dives for very long durations and depth in order to gather pearls and sponges from the sea floor. Those divers use a unique breathing technique and dive repeatedly 20 meters deep 5-6 hours daily, for long periods of time!!


yorgos.jpg In 1911 in Karpathosin the Aegean sea, the "Regina Margherita", the armor-plated flagship of the Italian navy, had anchored. An extraordinary storm caused the ship to drag anchor, and the chains snapped. The anchor was lost under 77 meters of ocean. After several days of unsuccessful attempts to recover the anchor, the captain broughtin a group of Greek sponge fishermen. Among these divers was a sickly man named Yorgos Haggi Statti, who assured everyone that he could descend to 77 meters -even to 100 meters -and that he was capable of holding his breath for seven minutes. He offered to recover the anchor in exchange for five Pounds Sterling and for the extraordinary permission of being able to fish with dynamite. The doctors that saw him wrote the following report: "Normal vital capacity. Thorax circumference: 92 centimeters, 98 while deep breathing, and 80 while exhaling. Pulse: Between 80 and 90 per minute; from 20 to 22 respirations per minute. Weight: 60 kilograms. Height: 1.75 meters. He has pulmonary emphysema."

The doctors told the captain the man shouldn't dive, given the presence of his illness and the feebleness of his size. Yet in spite of those recommendations, Yorgos dove three times that day to 77 meters deep -where he was indeed able to locate the anchor and pass a rope through its eye so that the crew could retrieve it, thus becoming the first deep diver in history.

During the Second World War, the French and Italian armies utilized free divers as combat divers, to locate mines or to place explosives underneath Nazi vessels located in the Mediterranean.
boucher.jpgIn 1949 -wearing a face mask, snorkel and fins and carrying a wooden gun, Raimondo Bucher dove to 30 meters off the coast of Naples while holding his breath. This dive marks the beginning of the golden age of world diving records.
In 1951, two new champions appeared on the scene -EnioFalcoand Alberto Novelli. They stole the record from Bucher by descending to 35 meters. In 1952 Bucher established the record at 39 meters, and for the first time it was caught on film by a very primitive underwater 16 mm camera. At the end of the 1950s, Falcoand Novellihad come back to retake the record, this time descending to 41 meters deep.

mayol.jpgIn the 1960s five new champions appeared. They were Amerigo Santarelli, Enzo Maiorca, Tetake Williams, Robert Croft, and Jaques Mayol. In 1960, the Italian Enzo Maiorca, broke Santarelli's record by descending to 45 meters and repeatedly broke his own record in the next three consecutive dives. The first dive was 46 meters deep, the second was 49 meters deep and the third was 50 meters deep. He continued breaking his own records until in 1965 he dived 54 meters down under. In September 1965 -Polynesia -. TetakeWilliams dives to 59 meters. In June 1966 -Jacques Mayol dove down to 60 meters.
In 1967 -an American diver named Robert Croft, broke the record by diving to 64 meters. In 1968 -Croft recaptured the spotlight by diving to 73 meters, although by that time he had developed pulmonary emphysema, which ended his career shortly thereafter.
maiorca.jpgIn 1969 -Enzo recaptured the record with a dive to 74 meters, yet just one month later, in another grand publicity stunt, Mayol showed up in Japan and descended to 75 meters and 77 meters consecutively, finishing the stormy second decade of the history of free Diving.
In 1976 -Mayol became the first man to break the 100-meter barrier.

Nevertheless, in 1983, Mayol again rose to the occasion and broke his own record by diving 105 meters deep. With that, he ended his freediving career In 1989 -Angela Bandini was about to achieve one of the greatest accomplishments in the world of sports -being the first woman in deep-diving to break a man's record -she dived 107 meters deep!!
pellizar.jpgIn the 1990s' - attention was diverted to 2 new divers that pushed the records to amazing depths-they were Pipin and Umberto Pelizzary. In 1990 -Pipin dived 115 meters deep, but his record did not last long. In the same year, Pellizzari dived to 118 meters. But in 1993, Pipin again dived to 120 meters. Pellizzari returned to set the record at 123 meters. In June 2000 -Pipin dived to a depth of 160 meters.
Over the past few years, New “mega athletes”joined the Freediving scene:
Herbert Nitch from Austria –held the constant weights, variable weights and dynamic records.
Martin Stepanek–holds the current Constant weights record at 108m, the FIM record at 106m, the CNF record at 80m.
Tom Sietas From germany–Holds the static record at 08:58, and the dynamic records.
Carlos Coste–Held the Consant weights records.
Natalia Molchanova–holds most of the womens records.