Depth Defying: The World’s Most Incredible Freediving Records

Freediving has been appearing on our screens more and more recently with documentaries such as My Octopus Teacher and The Deepest Breath showcasing the sport beautifully. If your attention has been grabbed by the fascinating world of freediving and you are curious to learn more about it, you have come to the right place! We are going to blow your mind with a list of current freediving records that show the incredible depths that some competitive freedivers are reaching.

What is freediving?

First, let us look at what exactly freediving is. Freediving is essentially the activity of holding your breath in the water. Usually, this involves diving down and exploring the underwater world and spotting marine life, until you need to come back up for a fresh breath of air.

However, freediving can also be enjoyed as a competitive sport, where athletes gradually add depth or distance to their personal best until they reach a level where they can compete for a place as best in their country or even best in the world.

Freediving can be done in the ocean, lake, or even in a pool - where instead of diving down under the water, a freediver will swim laps just under the surface, and see how far they can go. Finally, freediving can be a test of the amount of time you can hold your breath for while staying completely still. This is called static apnea and is also part of freediving competitions.

To find out more ways to enjoy freediving, check this out: Unleash Your Inner Explorer – 4 Great Ways to go Freediving.

Why do people go freediving?

Freedivers have different motivations for taking part in the sport. Maybe they want to compete and become the best, maybe they simply want to explore the reef a bit easier, or some use it as a form of meditation and relaxation. Often it is a mix of all of these reasons.

Technique and ability can be trained for freediving, and a beginner program, such as the SSI Freediver certification is an excellent way to get started. In this program, you learn ways to become more relaxed, improve the length of your breath-hold, get over anxieties about being in deep water, and learn how to be a good freediving buddy to someone else.

How deep can freedivers dive?

To give you an idea of the kind of depths that freedivers are currently achieving, we are going to look at some of the current freediving records. But first, let us look at the progression we have seen in freediving over the years…

Freediving has been around for thousands of years throughout human history, as a means of finding food. Many cultures around the world still freedive for fish today. But in the 1950s, freediving took a competitive turn and people started becoming curious about how deep they could go on a dive using just a single breath.

In 1967, a US Navy diver called Bob Croft performed a breath hold dive to over 60 meters (200 feet) deep. This was very surprising to scientists, who up until this time believed that the pressure of water past 60 meters (200 feet) would be deadly to the human body.

Since then, athletes have been adding more and more meters to that record, with no sign of slowing down yet!

Thinking of buying your own freediving kit? Here is: Freediving Gear: 9 Must-Have Items for Every Freediver.

To help you understand world freediving records, it is helpful to know that there are different disciplines within freediving competitions, each of which has its own world freediving records.

So here is an overview of the different disciplines in depth freediving:

1. Constant Weight Bi-Fins

In Constant Weight Bi-fins freediving, a freediver uses a long fin on each foot to kick themselves down and back up, following a rope for guidance.

2. Free immersion

In Free Immersion freediving, a freediver uses their hands to pull their body down and back up the rope.

3. Constant Weight

For this type of freediving, a freediver uses a whale-like tail called a ‘monofin’ that keeps both of their feet together. They use their core to move the monofin back and forth and follow the rope down and back up to the surface.

4. Constant Weight No fins

This is where a freediver swims using a technique similar to breaststroke to move their body down and up the rope, without the help of pulling or kicking. No-fins freediving gives a sense of freedom unlike any other!

5. Variable Weight

In Variable Weight freediving, a freediver holds onto a sled that is heavily weighted. The sled pulls the diver down to their chosen depth, and then the diver uses one of the above disciplines to get themself back up to the surface. This discipline helps a diver to go very deep, while also saving their energy on the way down.

6. No Limits

A freediver uses the weighted sled just like with Variable Weight, but then they inflate a bag of air using a scuba tank, which drags them quickly back to the surface. Record attempts are no longer being accepted for this discipline as it is now considered to be too dangerous due to the extreme depths divers can go to using this method.

Now you understand the different disciplines in competitive depth freediving, here are the current freediving records:

Current World Freediving Records

Constant Weight Bi-Fins:

Men: 121 meters (397 feet) deep. Performed by Alexey Molchanov of Russia in May 2023.

Women: 109 meters (358 feet) deep. Performed by Alessia Zecchini of Italy in 2023.

Free Immersion:

Men: 128 meters (420 feet) deep. Performed by Petar Klovar of Croatia in 2023.

Women: 101 meters (331 feet) deep. Performed by Alessia Zecchini of Italy in 2023.

Freediving can give you vital skills for other water sports, check out: How Learning to Freedive Can Help Surfers.

Constant Weight:

Men: 131m deep. Performed by Alexey Molchanov of Russia in 2021.

Women: 123m deep. Performed by Alessia Zecchini of Italy in 2023.

Constant Weight No Fins:

Men: 103 meters (338 feet) deep. Performed by William Trubridge of New Zealand in 2016.

Women: 76 meters (249 feet) deep. Performed by Kathryn Sedurska of Ukraine in 2023.

Variable Weight:

Men: 156 meters (512 feet) deep. Performed by Alexey Molchanov of Russia in 2023.

Women: 130 meters (427 feet) deep. Performed by Nanja Van Den Broek of the Netherlands in 2015.

No Limits:

No longer recognized for freediving records.

Men: 214 meters (702 feet) deep. Performed by Herbert Nitsch of Austria in 2007.

Women: 160 meters (525 feet) deep. Performed by Tanya Streeter of USA in 2002.

I think we can all agree that these are some pretty impressive depths. With multiple freediving competitions happening throughout the year, freediving records are only getting deeper and deeper as time goes on!

Do you want to find out more about freediving and see for yourself how amazing this sport is? Then check out SSI’s freediving courses for beginners. There are a range of freediving programs to choose from and learning to freediving is much easier than you think!