The full No limit list

Safety & freediving

text on drowning

text on near drowning


A bad NL dive (swedish)

Another not so sucessful NL dive (swedish)

Some french stories

DANGERS OF THE DEPTH text: Sebastian Näslund. Some research by Bill Strömberg Updated nov 2007

No limit - to dive as deep as possible on one breath going down with weights and coming up with a bouancy bag (ballon with air filled from a scuba tank).

Several succesfull dives have been made deeper than 100-150 meters.

Umberto Pelizzari took the discipline to 150 meters.

Tanya Streeter did a dive to 160 meters, adding about 20 meters from her last training dive. She got severe narcossis but got away with it.

Sebastien Murat has done many deep dives, as deep as 180+ rumor has it. His method in some dives has been attaching weights to his ankles that can be ditched. A safety line (fishingline type) to his wrist that is reeled in from the surface.

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:

Audrey Mester died after failing to inflate the ballon that was going to take her to the surface from 170 meters of depth, She became unconcious at 120 meters of depth. The back-up safety of tri mix divers could not in time get her to the surface. The baloon did not inflate because someone forgot to fill the airtank. Her life could maybe have been saved if there where more tri mix divers (one left his position and returned to the surface before Audrey). Her chances of survival would have been better if there had been a real doctor present (not only a dentist) and if there had been more weight on the line (the sled started moving eventually but gor stuck at times).

Carlos Coste

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).

Loic Le Ferme died April 11th, 2007 during a training dive to 171 meters outside Nice bay of Villefranche-sur-Mer. The antiballast was releast after 2.30 but fouled at about 80 meters. The surface team could not pull him to the surface. No back-up system seem to have been deployed. Scuba found him at about 20 meters. He was brought with cardiac arrest to the surface after a dive time of 6.30. All equipment was cut and dropped so it is hard to know what happened to the system. Bearings burning, underwater entanglement? So far only speculations. Loic was 36 years old and left wife and children behind (Loic to the right).

Benjamin Franz (Belgium) got severe DCS and/or stroke and has been disabled for a long time (though improving). He had been doing repetetive sled dives to depth. Some claim the stroke was not dive related, other emphasise that it would never had happened if he hadn´t been diving like he did.

Patrick Musimu did 209 meters in training. His progression was fast and led to some time in a decrompession chamber.

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 was injured at a 182 meter dive. He spent 2.51 minutes below 100 meters depth. The whole dive took 5.02. He suffered somekind of DCS, was taken to deco chamber and in previous dives he had reported wonderful dreams, numbness in fingers and his safety remarked that there often was a long time between touch-down and starting his ascent. He had before his injury done about 3-4 depths deeper than 140 meter.

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".

There are rumours of other less successful freedives venturing into the zone of DCS.
- Umberto Pelizzari is said to have once been paralyzed for a short time in half his body after deepdiving on one breath.
- Natalja Molchanova is said to have felt symptoms of braindamage after doing many deep dives above 70-80 meters in a row.
- Kirk Krack got hold of a very efficient underwater scooter some years back, after several deep dives down to 70 meters he colapsed and showed clear signs of decompression sickness.
- There are also rumours that the very experimental and bold Herbert Nietsch also have some bad experiences with DCS.

Eric Fattah writes on Deeperblue: "Herbert had a life threatening DCS after spearfishing 35m-45m, for 16 dives -- total colapse and paralysis, airlift to the chamber, etc..."

With the bouyancy set up in the picture Herbert Nitsch has gone deeper than 200  meters. Dives done on more or less 4 minutes with a slow ascent from 30 meters and 10 minutes O2 deco afterwards.

Right, photo Fred Buyle

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).
So where will this end? A full torpedo cascet where tha athlete straps in and can relax without holding himself. Once equalization is mastered at 150-170 meters depths far beyond 200-300 is possible. Athletes will demand a rulechange or do records outside Aida - the athletes will want to go faster into O2 deco at depths after their dives.

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.

It took several DCS, one or two deaths, articles and writing on the internet for the Aida Board to wake up.

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?

It will take a few years more, but I think it will come.