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New Zealander Sets World Record 400-Foot-Deep Freedive Without Air Tanks

A 35-year-old New Zealander set a new world record for diving without air tanks this past weekend descending to 400 feet in the Bahamas.

William Trubridge, a 35-year-old British-born man from New Zealand and who described his feat as a “tough dive,” broke his own 397-foot dive performed in 2011. Trubridge said he was on the verge of losing consciousness during his ascent.

The descent to 400 feet at Dean’s Blue Hole in the Bahamas was easy, Trubridge said, but when he got to the bottom of the line and retrieved the tag at the targeted depth he fumbled over placing it on his suit losing precious seconds for his ascent. This contributed to what the extreme diver called a “terrible” rise.

“I’m very happy with the result but the ascent from that dive was terrible,” Tulbridge told the media after the dive.

“At the bottom I was fumbling with where to place the tag on my leg and eventually had to start upwards with my tag in my hand,” Tulbridge said.

He noted that soon he could not hold the tag any longer and fumbled to attach it to his suit.

“With my focus off, I was not in the right head space, not in the place I like to be, to complete my dive with ease or confidence,” the diver added.

Not long before finally reaching the surface to life-giving oxygen the diver said he felt he was on the verge of blacking out.

Still, he was able to fight through it to reach the surface taking four minutes and 24 seconds to complete the dive.

This is Tulbridge’s sixteenth world record.

The extreme sport of freediving is not an easy competition and has suffered several major losses. Just last August top freediver Natalia Molchanova disappeared under the waves never to be seen again off the coast of Spain while practicing depth diving without air tanks.

The sport is also often troubled by the fact that there are no clear statistics on how often deaths and injuries occur. “The statistics are a bit murky,” Outside magazine reported in 2012. “Some deaths go unreported, and the numbers that are kept include people who freedive as part of other activities, like spearfishing. But one estimate of worldwide freediving-related fatalities revealed a nearly threefold increase, from 21 deaths in 2005 to 60 in 2008.”

Indeed, diving enthusiast website Dive Wise maintains statistics on fee diving deaths, but only 11 percent of those deaths are directly classified as having occurred in the sport of free diving. All other deaths were attributed to other sports or activities that also do not require air tanks.

One of the last well-known free-diving deaths occurred in 2013. Nicholas Mevoli, 32, tried to set a record by diving to 236 feet on one breath. He made a dive, re-surfaced, flashed the OK sign, but then lapsed into unconsciousness. He died shortly thereafter.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at igcolonel@hotmail.com

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