A New Zealand freediver has set the world record for the longest dive without using fins by plunging 116m (380ft) into the Atlantic Ocean.
William Trubridge battled nitrogen narcosis as he held his breath for four minutes and nine seconds to break the record for the deepest free immersion dive on Sunday at Dean’s Blue Hole, the world’s deepest underwater sinkhole, in the Bahamas.
The 29-year-old performed the dive during the Vertical Blue Suunto Dive-Off competition where he had already set another record – for freediving completely unassisted, a discipline called “constant weight, no fins” to 92m (301ft) – last week.
Wearing a specially designed silicon-coated wetsuit, Mr Trubridge used a form of breaststroke to propel himself down to without the aid of oxygen.
“It was hard to get the tag from the bottom as I struggled with some narcosis,” Mr Trubridge said afterwards. “But it’s great to have the free immersion record again.”
It was Mr Trubridge’s 10th world record, and puts him in first place for the competition to find the world’s best all-round freediver.
Later on his Facebook page Mr Trubridge wrote of his disappointment at not reaching an extra 2m (7ft).
“So 118m (387ft) CWT was just out of my reach today,” he wrote on the social networking site. “I managed to equalise to the plate, wasted some time fumbling for the tag, then set off for the surface. I had to use my arms a little from 20m, but reached the surface and struggled through a samba to do the surface protocol, going overtime by several seconds. That was my best shot, so I will concentrate on the other disciplines for the remaining days.”
During free immersion events, divers must retrieve a velcro tag from a metal plate set at the specified depth before returning to the surface. They are not allowed to use any equipment such as fins during their ascent, but are able to use a rope to pull themselves upwards.
The previous free immersion record was set by Martin Štěpánek of the Czech Republic in the waters off Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt last year.
Freediving has become an increasingly popular extreme sport. In April last year British freediver Sara Campbell broke a female world record by diving 96m (314ft) at Dean’s Blue Hole, holding her breath for three minutes, 36 seconds, before safely returning to the surface.