DANGERS OF THE DEPTH text: Sebastian Näslund. Some research by Bill Strömberg Updated nov 2007
Herbert Nitsch has added a new angle on no limit. He solves his equalization by having an extra mouthfill outside his body. After starting his descent, at 25 meters he puts some (1.5ltr?) of his air in a small balloon, air which he below RV can use for equalization. This has taken him to 214 meters (an Aida world record) which was done with such speed that it enabled him a 30 sec deco before surfacing.
Loic le Ferme (France) has had the world record in this discipline (171 meter) his diving has been very responsible with slow progression from dive to dive. But careful was not enough (read below).
But there are many less successful dives:
The 24 year old frenchman Cyril Isoardi died after a No-limit dive to 128. In ten days progression in 1995 he went from 112, 118, 122. On his last dive ever he left the sled and was not on it when it was able to be retrieved to the surface. His body was lost. He did this dive with only one person as back-up (in a boat). There is a small monument at 26 meters depth (outside a headland of Nice harbour).
Pippin ( Ferreras ) has been doing many deep dives in No-limit style. He has had many blackouts and strokes of DCS, he has even been in cardiac arrest. More than one of his scuba safetydivers has died during his projects.
Fredric Buyle did VWT attempts close to the world record and his sled got stuck (or ballon did not inflate fast enough) at 60 meters on the way up he blacks out and due to probable laryngospasm he get barotrauma (lung tissue breaks) - it has been said that 60% of his lungs capacity to absorbe oxygen was gone. Now his lungs has regenerated fully.
A swedish Freediver (Mikael Hurtig) got stuck at 92 meters of depth. The hose from the single scubatank had slipped out of the liftbag. A Trimix diver saved the situation The freediver had a BO at surface.
Tom Sietas suffered a similar thing at 122 meters. He stuck at 122 meters and the whole dive surpassed 4 minutes.
Carlos Coste:"Every day I feel better. I already can speak perfectly and coordinate my movements. I can walk, although I have to make an effort to keep my balance. But I am sure I will recover. I want to go back to the sea as soon as possible. This sport is my life and I will never stop freediving".
Aidaboard declares 1 oct 2006 (one month after this was first published) - "After reports of recent experiences by athletes in the disciplines VW (Variable Weight) and NL (No Limits), the AIDA International Executive Board decided to develop a protocol/guideline for VW/NL/Sleddiving disciplines". Susan Kluytmans Secretary AIDA International Executive Board. In the No limit discipline it is now asked by the judges to give their judgement with 30 secs after surfacing - in order to let the athlete go down a few meters and start breathing oxygen as soon as possible.
Sebastien Murat has experimented with new systems of retrieveing non responding deep apnea divers. A handdriven drum retrieving the diver with a fishing line. No weights involved. He believes weights causes dangerous problems. He also says that no safety system should be based on action from the diver him/herself.
The begining of the end.
The EQEX is an equalisation extension tool Herbert uses to equalise past 120m, by filling the empty ballon from his on lungs at 15-30m on the way down... makes it a lot easier to use air for equalisation at depth - sucking in the air from the ballon when needed. This could extend NL to depths that was unthinkable just a few years back. His new astronaut flotation "helmet" makes it possible to return to the surface without waiting for tanks to fill ballons at great depth (he spends only a couple of secnds at the turn).
The set up of Herberts record might seem impressive. But realy - lets face it - NLT has finaly climbed up to its "lowest limit" when it comes to safety. Up to now it has been quite "happy go lucky". From here on it can only be improved - and
is going to be improved, not primarily by Aida, but by the Athletes themselves who wants to stay alive.
No limit will evolve and the discipline will see more deaths. I think it is a good idea for Aida to disassociate itself from the NLT discipline and only represent the athletic sportive side of freediving - the competitions. It is advisable to form a new branch of todays NLT professionals. A new organisation under a new name.
Ask yourselves: what is the future vision for competetive freediving - how do we get there? Get the whole picture - see what NLT does with the image of freediving and with Aida.
As NLT evolves into a more technical discipline I predict other discplines will emerge and claim to be the most respected of all discplines. The no equiptment discipline will cause the most interest in media and public in the future. A man and his swimming trunks - how deep can he go?