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138m no fins

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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New Member
Sep 15, 2001
At the first Dutch DiveInn yesterday Herbert Nitsch did a nice 138m without fins. This new world record will however not be homologated as an official record, because there was no camera nor doping test.

Seeing someone swim 138m no fins is very impressive, i assure you, homologation or not.
Congratulations for the champ.


Apparently a video was made of the attempt. So we only needed a dopingtest but they cost 500 euro from AIDA.

What was even more impressive is that the pool was a 50 meter pool!

This evening (GMT+1) a complete resultlist and english report will be published of the competition on http://aidanl.org

Jorg Jansen
Organiser of the competition
50m pool - blimey!

Was it an open international - presumably so to count as WR (pending a drugs test)?
It was an open competition including an international AIDA judge assigned by AIDA International. We didn't have the drugtest because of the high price. We had an higher priority with money on safety then on a dopingtest :hmm
Wow 138m

138m with no fins!! very impressive. I hope that one day i will be able to do 100m
Fred, don't tell me that you, as our National herbal doctor, haven't got that list almost completly already.....shame on you.

But without joking, me as a NO-medical educated person ask myself what substances can help freedivers in their performances? I tend to think most substances used in althletics/cycling/etc will do more harm then good to a freedivers performance. Maybe some medical educated people can explain this to us.

Greetings and keep breathing,

Pim Vermeulen

ps, It was a great dive and Hebert made it look very very easy!!!
The only things that might be interesting (and perhaps very dangerous and expensive) is blood-doping, EPO, artificial oxygen-carriers, tranquilizers etc.
So if you consider the danger and the costs (compared to the incredible $$$ to be earned in this sport :t ) I'm wondering if the chance is real that freedivers might use prohibited substances....

Fred S.
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138m wow freakish. Anyone know how long it took, i reckon he could be competition in the no fins constant ballast category with David, and Topi. Has he considered it.


Will there be a freediver thinking of using EPO; because I tend to think this would more or less suicide?

In theory your body, through apnea training, already adapts to the low oxygen environment by producing more red blood cells. Then there is the diving reflex, one part of this is the enlarged urine production and the coupled dehydration. Both these processes thicken the blood…..using EPO on top of that?

But maybe a medical educated person can clearify this!!!

Greetz Pim
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EPO etc...

After I bought my blood analyzer, I measured the blood of some local freedivers. The results were very strange. I then did a lot of research on why this might be. The bottom line is that while most freedivers do all sorts of apnea exercises in hope of getting better, all those exercises stimulate red blood cell production (erythropoeisis), but in the end the freedivers almost never have enough iron to build any blood, so the erythropoeisis, instead of producing hemoglobin, produces zinc protoporphyrin (ZPP) which is zinc based hemoglobin, a useless molecule. So, most of the freedivers I tested were actually anemic (dangerously low hemoglobin). Some of them were even taking iron supplements, but more research confirmed my suspicion that common iron supplements have virtually no effect in most people (some people, however, do seem to absorb them).
The couch potatoes I measured at work had higher (sometimes FAR higher) hemoglobin than the freedivers. This is not true for all freedivers; some freedivers adopt a diet which does give them enough iron. I was one of the anemic divers, with [Hb] = 12.8 g/dl (Laminar had 11.5 g/dl)

With the help of the blood analyzer, I have so far improved to [Hb] = 15.7 g/dl (Laminar is up to 14.5 g/dl). The new progress had nothing to do with training, and everything to do with diet & nutrition.

Just another reminder that training *harder* is not the answer. You must train *smarter*. Don't spend 90% of your time training. Spend 90% of your time figuring out how to train (i.e. what to eat, how/when to train), and then spend 10% of your time actually doing it. You will beat your friend who spends 90% of his time sweating his butt off doing the wrongs things, even though he spent 9 times longer training than you did.

Eric Fattah
BC, Canada

The above link is interesting, but it doesn't provide any references. If you do your homework on medline, you will find a different story. After going through a zillion abstracts on medline, the story I found was:

1. Sedentary people who don't exercise and eat lots of red meat & liver, get enough iron. These are the only people who get enough iron.

2. If you are not sedentary, or you don't eat lots of red meat, then you don't get enough iron

3. If you stress your body with extreme exercise and/or hypoxia, and you are vegetarian, then you have serious iron deficiency

4. Normal iron supplements (ferrous fumarate, ferrous sulfate) have little or no effect on most people, except to cause stomach upset and infection

5. When people go to high altitude, hemoglobin production is so high that there is no way to get enough iron into the body to keep up, even with injections.

Eric Fattah
BC, Canada


Thats crusin for 138m. I usually take around 1:30-1:40 to do 72m I think i should speed things up a bit. Do you know if he has tried no fins constant.


Interesting stuff Eric! I thought that taking iron-supplements could be really harmfull in the long term, just like Hydro's site is suggesting.

And if your statements are correct, I might have a low hemoglobin level. And just to be sure, I'll have it tested soon. That's because I do hypoxic training, and I am a vegetarian (probably the only one in the freediving community :confused: )

So perhaps this might be the key in making a jump ahead in my performances, cause I'm on a plateau for about a year now.

Occasionally I take Solgar's "pure amino acid chelated iron" (25 mg). Do you think they can do the job, or do you have other (smarter) suggestions to improve my possibly low hemoglobin level???

Fred S.
The things I'm afraid of with iron-supplements is the damage to the liver etc....and the trouble I'm having when using iron for a couple of days is that stoods get thin (more or less diarrhoea).....but if I can get iron in on an adapted diet....hmmmm, better let my blood test first.

and Fred you won't be the only vegetarian freediver in this world....I know more and as you know I'm NOT one of them....I eat the plastic octopus tentacles and love those heavy steaks.

Greetings and keep breathing,

Mad Pim:duh
Iron Calculations

Suppose you are an anemic freediver, with Hb = 12.0 g/dl. You start training, hoping to get better. You hope to reach the standard of 18.0g/dl, even though Andean natives at altitude have up to 25 g/dl.

So, you want to increase from 12.0g/dl to 18.0g/dl hemoglobin concentration. You have 5 litres of blood (approx).
So, an increase of 6.0g/dl of hemoglobin * 50 decilitres of blood = 300g of hemoglobin.
So, your body needs to manufacture 300 grams of hemoglobin (not to mention any daily losses of hemoglobin).
You lose about 1mg of Iron per day.
Hemoglobin is 0.33% iron. So, to manufacture 300 grams of hemoglobin requires 300g*0.0033 = 0.99g Iron = 990mg of Iron.
So, your body needs 990mg of Iron to manufacture 300 grams of hemoglobin.
Iron absorption from standard iron supplements is less than 1%.
Iron absorption from vegetable sources of iron (i.e. potato skins, green vegetables), is also less than 1%.
So, to actually ABSORB 990mg of iron from vegetables sources or from standard iron supplements, you would need to eat 100 times that amount (because of the 1% absorption), so you would need to eat 0.99g * 100 = 99 grams of iron.
Suppose you eat a diet high in vegetable sources of iron. This provides about 10mg of elemental iron in raw form per day. You also take your 18mg iron supplement per day. So, you get 28mg of elemental iron per day, but it is only absorbed 1%.
So, you absorb 2.8mg of iron per day, but you lose 1.0mg per day, so you gain 1.8mg per day: AND THIS IS FOR THE PERSON WHO TAKES IRON SUPPLEMENTS AND EATS A DIET HIGH IN VEGETABLE SOURCES OF IRON!!!
Gaining 1.8mg per day, you need 990mg to build 300g of hemoglobin, so if you do enough apnea to stimulate blood cell production, it would still take:
990mg / 1.8mg = 550 days
So it would take 550 days to increase your hemoglobin from 12.0g/dl to 18.0g/dl, even if you did apnea every day, and took iron supplements every day, and ate lots of vegetable foods containing iron every day.
If you wanted to reach the hemoglobin level of an andean native, it would take 1192 days of training with this diet & these supplements.
If you were a vegetarian who took no iron supplements and didn't specifically eat foods rich in iron, your hemoglobin would never increase, no matter how long you trained for. This is why Laminar and I were still anemic after 3 years of training.

Taking iron supplements causes stomach irration, nausea, and feeds bacteria in the blood, which can make you sick.

So, it is not a simple problem.

Eric Fattah
BC, Canada
Hi Eric,

does this mean that red meat is the best source of iron, ie get better absorption from this ?
How does it compare to leefy greens & iron supplements ?

Or does anyone else know ?

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