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He’s known as the 'deepest man on earth'. Austrian Herbert Nitsch is the undisputed freediving world record champion, an extreme sport where competitors plunge into the depths on only one breath without any scuba diving equipment. He took the title in 2007, diving down to a record depth of 700 feet off the Greek island of Spetses.
His record-breaking career started with a fluke when, in 1999, Nitsch lost his diving equipment on the way to a scuba dive safari. That forced him to take up snorkeling instead, and he quickly discovered his natural talent for freediving.
His progress was rapid: a few weeks later, he was only two meters short of the Austrian national record. And just two years later he set his first world record.
Since 2001, Nitsch has set 31 worlds in all eight official disciplines recognized by the International Association for the Development of Apnea (AIDA), the ultimate freediving authority in the world. The self-taught freediver puts in a meticulous amount of planning before every dive. He can even hold his breath for a staggering nine minutes.
But his biggest test is still to come. In November this year Nitsch will attempt to break his own world record, as he tries to reach a depth of 1000 feet. He’ll do it on only one breath, shrinking his lungs to the size of a tennis ball.
When he’s not diving deep, he’s flying high, working part-time as a pilot for Austrian Airlines.
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