Scientists still don’t understand how freedivers can survive such crushing depths

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Free divers swim to extreme depths underwater (the current record is 214m) without any breathing apparatus. Champions can hold their breath for extraordinary amounts of time – the record for women is nine minutes, and men 11.

I’m a doctor with a special interest in extreme environments, so was intrigued when I was asked to collaborate in an art project about free diving for the Wellcome Collection’s new exhibition Somewhere in Between. Scientists and those who practise free diving are in many ways utterly alien to one another. When you look at the stresses this sport places on our physiology, it initially looks almost impossible that anyone should be able to dive to such profound depths – and yet they do.

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freediver photo

Photo by jayhem

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Production engineer and certified swim coach. Full-time IT consultant, spare-time swimming aficionado. 2 sons, 2 daughters and a wife. President of the Faroe Islands Swimming Association. Likes to run :-)

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