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Free-divers, who take a breath, swim as deep into the ocean as possible and then come back up, come to Dahab from across the world to compete. But a diver’s death in November has raised questions about the safety of the sport, with some divers saying too little has been done to cut down on overly ambitious competitors and common injuries.
At a recent competition in Dahab — the first since diver Nick Mevoli died in the Bahamas — a dozen competitors had strung their yellow buoys out in a row across the blue hole. Each buoy had a weighted rope attached, which the divers followed down into the blue abyss.
One … two … then three minutes would go by. And then, a diver would come back up with a tag that proved he had reached the bottom.
But not all the scheduled divers competed that day. Maxim Iskander, a Canadian-Egyptian free-diver, withdrew from competition because of an injury known as a lung squeeze.
“How did I know? I spit a little bit of blood,” Iskander says. “Not that much, but enough to tell you, OK, something happened.”