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Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
It can take a long time to get an up-to-date response or contact with relevant users.

Should the free diving communty be invovled in determining how records are obtained?

  • agree

    Votes: 5 83.3%
  • neutral

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • disagree

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • unsure; I don't have enough information

    Votes: 1 16.7%

  • Total voters
  • Poll closed .


New Member
Apr 2, 2001
After all of the fan fare over Pippin's world record dive to -500' it I recently found out that he inhaled compressed oxygen at -250' and that he has been doing this on many of his dives that he claimed were records in the unlimited class of dives. This is personally embarassing as I have talked about this as valid and impressive achievement to others based on the reports that found the use of bottle oxygen to be irrelevant. I thought the whole point of freediving was use the air that the diver took in at the surface. Pippin appears to be nothing more than a narcissistic oppportunist with big lungs. This issue raises the validity of the claiming world records based on dives that do not occur in an organized competition. Why have none of those people who were present spoken out? Bias and group pressure are very effective which is why these records should only count in competition. No one would accept a 100 meter swim done in practice or on ones own as world record regardless how it was measured. I am in agreement with Mayol that this type of diving is only valuable when it is part of research. I disagree with Mayol that there is no place for this to be recognized as a sport; but only if it is part of head to head or sequential attemtps such as in high jumping or platform diving competitions. Pippin's ability to go to -500' on bottled oxygen is pointless as we already know that the human body can withstand those depths. His ability to go to -250' is impressive and most of us will never achieve even that and I certainly won't. But this sport is a high risk activity and the increasing self -promotion based on the dubious practise of going out with a group of friends and then claiming to have achieved a new record only increases the risk factor while detracting from the sport. Finally, I find the use of sleds for decent and balloons for ascending to make these endeavors even more ridiculous. I thougt freediving was about swimming. The use of sleds and balloons makes it just another form of a static apnea dive while taking a ride. Big whoop. Only distance and constant ballast dives are an actual physical sport. Static apnea is just part of training; would you be impressed by somebody hanging by their arms longer than someone else and see that as a sport? Still a physical challenge like static apnea but not much of a sport is it? Competition is an important part of any sport. Freediving is misunderstood enough by the nondiving public now. I think it is important for the freediving community to protect the sport which needs to start within sport by those who participate in it.
Charlatans and Fakirs

I think that if what you say is true, then I have to agree with you. This is like the Croatian freediver who supposedly is getting into the Guiness book for diving under ice: he passed out at the surface and had to be revived, followed by a trip to the hospital! If you climb Everest and die on the way down, can you say you climbed Everest? Also, if Pipin were breathing oxygen, or even air(21% O2) I don't think he would ever come back. Pure O2 wouldn't be too healthy at 500'. Maybe some hypoxic mix, but not pure O2. Is there evidence to back up what you say? People talking on the web tend to sway off the truth sometimes. As far as I know, Pipin did indeed do a 500' dive on 2 breaths, but was straight about it from the beginning. His latest record (535') was apparently done on one breath. All said, it makes me wonder if promoting freediving as a competitive sport is such a good thing. Don't get me wrong, I'm the first in line to see who'se going deeper and if Umberto "saw mermaids this time", I just have visions of cheerleaders and WWF. It can be an "extreme" sport, but even those pushing the envelope know that the neccessary mind-set is in no way related to BMX biking, sky-diving, or rugby. One of the main reasons I got into freediving was to get away from out-of-shape, badly trained, and noisy scubadivers. Are you going to post results of your survey? Cheers, Erik
reply to Erik

Yo, Erik. Thanks for your input. To answer your first question I actually saw a video of the dive and was quite dismayed when I saw him stop at -250' and inhale what was reported to be oxygen and then continue the dive. But the reports in the news had never mentioned this and I have not heard Pippin comment on this failure. As for his putative -535' I will now need a far more information before I accept it because his honesty is now in suspect. But this is not my central concern. The real issue for me is two fold. How is doing a deep dive in this manner any different that an Evil Knieval motorcycle jump? To be a competitive sport you need to be involved with your competitors. I love to watch track and field but seldom am interested in watching the same athlete run in practice. My second issue is the use of mechanical devices to power the descent and ascent. Freediving is a swimming activity. It is likely that most people who can hold their breath for more than three minutes could go very deep using a sled and a balloon. So what. Your point about passing out is also central to this and I agree with you, it is very important. I could easily attain depths greater than -500' by riding a sled until I died. Competition helps move a sport to new depths (sorry couldn't resist) and freediving has benefited from competition, mostly from spearfishing competition and know with the team competitions. I think that it is important to for those of us who love the sport to define what constitutes true and appropriate competition to help the sport develop.
I am proposing that only constant ballast for depth and distance should count. Any use of sleds, balloons, or other mechanical propulsion systems should not count. Can you imagine some claiming a new record in foot race in which they rode a motorcyle for all but the last few yards? Stunts have little or no place in this type of endeavor. Finally, I will certainly share the results of the poll at the end of the month. Thanks for your comments Erik. Warmly, Mark
Those sound like words of wisdom to me. I agree about the sled dives: when was the last time Pipin posted a constant ballast record? At least Umberto keeps nudging up (down?) the constant ballast record, along with the sleed dives. I read an article in Outside Magazine ( I think) a few years back where a writer was invited to one of Pipin's clinics. He had an extremely bad experience with almost no real training (when Pipin managed to show up on time), at which point the journalist was thrown on a 200' sled, which scared the crap out of him. I think I'm more interested in sportsmen and sportswomen that are nice people, no matter how well they do. Maybe that could be one of the sports parameters! Cheers, Erik
Reply to Erik

Very nicely put. I think I read that same article or at least one very similar to it. I am glad you brought up the point about the caliber and quality of the people as being as important as the accomplishments. Your comment was helpful in helping me understand that was part of what I am trying to get at in this discussion. It is the journey that counts and I want to make the journey with nice traveling companions.
If I remember correctly Pippin always advertised the fact that he was going to do a 2 breath dive to 500'. I think the important thing to remember is that he did reach 500' regardless of taking a breath at 250', I do not think there are too many people that can claim that accomplishment. You cannot blame him if the media did not report it correctly. With regard to riding a sled to 500' being a sport or not, I would disagree. If this is such a simple task then why isn't every great breath holder reaching these depths? I think you have to remember all the training and mental control that goes into making these dives. You may not consider this a sport but then some people may not consider freediving with long fins, low volume masks, weights, etc a true sport either. I seem to recall that most freedivers glide to the bottom, why not make them swim all the way down? Maybe this sled diving is no different that doing an Evil Knieval jump but both take skill. There are different categories of freediving and each category has its own records. I would like to see a Grand Champion category - where one has to compete in all categories.
I think Pippin has done quite a bit for the sport of freediving, two (maybe three) years ago he held a course aboard a Peter Hughes dive boat. In the course was a journalist from Rodele's, he ranted and raved about the course and had nothing but positive things to say aobut Pippin. Just my two cents worth. Tom
Makes sense

I guess we all should be careful what we say based on hearsay; especially when it's about someone. I suppose it's similar to when you see a movie and like it, then it's followed by horrible reviews. Since I wasn't there and have never met any of these guys Pipin, etc.), I shouldn't pass judgement based on news articles.I try not to trust the media too much. I agree that sled dives are amazing feats, and they take dedication and training. In all fairness, most of those competitors are the first to admit that constant ballast is the real test. I would be interested in reading that Rodale's article: if you know which one it was ,would you post it here? Thanks, Erik. ps, if he has now reached 535' on one breath, shouldn't he be able to hit 1000' on 2? I know there are a lot of variables, but I think my physics are right...what about DCS?
Reply to Thands

Hello Tom. Thanks for your reasoned rebuttal. I disagree with many of conclusions but that was already stated in my initial comments. I do think you may have misunderstood that I am not in anyway deprecating the feat of diving to -500' in two stages nor the skill involved. Nor do I have anything agains Pippin per se. I do have a problem with how his accomplishment is represented in that it obscures or distorts the efforts of others. During the time that he did his 2 stage dive another had achieved the remarkable depth -435' on one breadth. I wonder how many know of this or even know who did that. But most importantly my concern is the nature of record setting as it applies to sport. One of things I love about freediving is that I can do it simply for pleasure of being deep under the water and the involvement with marine life. On the other hand competition, true competition, aids in developing a sport. I define true competition as that in which people meet either head to head or in immediate alternating sequences such is seen in high jump competition. It requires one to meet the demand in the moment and not when everything is to ones liking. Would you accept a high jump performed with cameras and friends of the high jumper observing the jump that occured without anyone else competing. Clearly they may have done the highest jump but they did not do the highest jump in competition which is a much harder feat. The glide down on a constant ballast dive does not start at the surface and the person loses any advantage as they ascend. If the ends justify the means than the Trieste pilots win as they were the first reach the deepest part of the ocean. Pippin's dive is not a record in any category and can at best only be seen as reconnaisance dive. Impressive? Yes! A world record? No.
Reply to Erik

Hey Erik, Nice to hear from again. Do you have a source for the putative -535' dive on one breadth by Pippin? By the way thanks for the recommendation about fluid goggles. I am in the process of getting a pair to try.

Hi Angus (good Scottish name), look at www.iafdusa.com in the news and events gallery. It says -162 metres(534.6 feet). This was last year in Coz....he blacked out the first day, but came back the next and got it done. There is some controversy with AIDA (from France...seems to be the big cheese with regulating competitions these days), who claim that Loic LeFerme is the record holder at-152 ( I believe). Pipin sets up his own rules, and AIDA does not sanction his record. I think that if he did it, he did it, and there should be communication between these certifying agencies. Let me know how the goggles work out. Cheers, Erik, from the frozen North.
Reply to Erik

Morning Erik, Thanks for the reference. I agree that an accomplish counts but the role of certifying agencies helps maintain a standard and limits bias and other confounding effects. This is central to my point. We, in the freediving community need to take part in developing and maintaining the standards and the regulations and their application. (I want to avoid such concepts as enforcement in sport that is predominatly "free"). If he did he did it but how does one know he did it. When careers and money are involved people consciously and unconsciously fudge the data. They fudge the data even when they are not playing for high stakes. I would rather that we regulate our own sport and not be regulated by some governmental or self appointed sports agency. We are the ones who truly understand what it takes; but more importantly have the feel for sport and because of how it allows us to transcend ourselves.

Further I don't think that it is the right of a person who setting the record to set the standards or regulations.

I do not get to the site as often as I would like...so forgive me for being a few replies back. You have mentioned many times that you feel that the sport of freediving be regulated by "We, the freediver"... I agree but tell me what happens when a bunch of people get together to regulate somehting. They form some type of governmental or sports agency. When people do not like what they have to say to start another regulating agency. And why cannot someone who is unhappy with a regulating agency or someone that diasgrees with a regulating agency or even someone that is setting the records start his own regulating agency that sets the standards. Now lets go back to this true competion idea of yours. Yes head to head competition is great but not mandatory to aide in the developing of a sport or even for record setting. In the last 100 years mountain climbing has made great strides, huge improvements in equipment, and produced some incredible feats. They do not compete head to head and they even pick the times when to go. What about the speed deamons who persued speed records, they did not compete head to head and they even picked their own dates! I agree with Erik when he mentions this ice diver who passess out but do we deny mountain climbers their feats when they reach the peak of Everest or K2 but fail to make it down safely. I might be wrong but only two fo the six women to climb K2 have made it back alive, do we say that they failed to climb the mountain? I personally agree that you should arrive back from a dive conscious. As with anything in this world, it is not always the best person that wins, it is normally the person that sells himself the most. Maybe we can all learn something from Pippin... and that is to better promote what we are doing. I think Tanya learned that leason well. Looking forward to your reply.

BTW, what are fluid gaggles? Would like to learn more.
Reply to Thands

Hey Tom, I was out of town as well. I share your concern about multiple "governments" occuring from how each person wants to define the sport to fit their personal interests. I don't want the French, Italian, Pippin, Mayol, Streeter, Olympic, or anyone else telling us what is or isn't a sport, a freedive, world record. I am looking for consensus within the population of the people involved in the sport and not just the "elite." Your comments comparing the similarities of freediving to climbing touches on the essential point that I am trying to make but your are not accurate in much of what you say about climbing. The role of the climbing community in developing their sport is great model for us though. I was an avid climber for over 20 years. Until the 1950's when several people within the sport started to set the ranking standards by climbing in close competition with each other climbing did not progress very rapidly. In fact a climber from 1850 would have easily stepped into climbing in 1940. During that 100 year period prior to the 1950s most of small changes in climbing were developed by the military for combat purposes. Then in the 1950s and 60s in Yosemite, where people were observing each others efforts as they happenned and then trying to best them in informal serial competitions, the sport took on its modern form. The transformation took less than 20 years to go from a regional practice to standards accepted around the world. The ranking systems, in this country what is used is called the Yosemite Decimal System, were developed by people in the sport and refined over the years. Its usefulness was achieved by a consensus within the climbing community and there has been no devisiveness as has occurred in freediving for past 40 years. A climber who posts the first ascent can rank the climb but that ranking only becomes accepted when it is climbed by others who accept or reject the rankings. The final accepted rankings are the result of consensus and rankings can change if the climb itself changes. There has been no multiplicity of ruling bodies on this and there has been an international attempt to learn how different ranking systems compare and respect the different ranking formats. Much of climbing, especially rock climbing, has an informal serial competitive component in which one person or team attempts a route while other watch. Those watching then attempt the same route with the goal to get higher. Very little of todays climbing involves people going off alone and then claiming world records. The reason places like Yosemite and Smith Rocks produce the worlds hardest climbs is because they allow for this head to head competition to occur. No one gets credit for the worlds hardest climb without consensus from the climbing community. There is almost global acceptance of the standards of climbing that include what constitutes a first ascent. The first ascent of Cerro Torres was not recognized by the climbing community as a valid first ascent because the climbers used a gas driven drill to place bolts which violated the consensus about the use motors to ascent. Yes, when someone does a first ascent they get credit for that ascent as long as they do it within the the manner and style that constitutes a valid first ascent which includes the method of the ascent. No one gets credit for a first ascent if they fly a helocopter to the summit. The first ascent of the nose of El Cap in Yosemite was done mostly with aid on pitons and bolts. Later, the first clean aid ascent was done using nuts, chocks, and friends. Recently, the first "free ascent" was accomplished which no aid was used. The last is viewed by the climbing community as the highest standard. But the biggest boom in climbing developed in the last 20 years with head to head competition on climbing walls. You point about climbing accepting first ascents as valid if the person died on the descent does underscores the value of community consensus. Just because the climbing community accepts ascents when the climber does not survive the descent does not require the freediving community to do the same thing. Or we may want too. Why not have class of "descent' records in which the diver enters a submersible stationed at the end of the dive. I am against but if we are going to accept the absolute depth under any condition as the only standard then why bother with the ascent, especially if we don't care if the person is conscious or even alive by after they achieved the world record depth. Which ever way we go I want us to decide this via consensus; not Pippin, Streeter, Mayol, and the various and sundry governments. In climbing much of the consensus resulted from having two very good climbing magazines, Climbing in the USA, and Mountain from GB (I apologize if I have left out other climbing magazines that were not in English - it is my failure to have learned another language and should in no way be construed as implying that non-English magazines were inferior or had a lessor impact) that allowed for the discussions to occur. Part my motivation in posting this thread in this format was start a similar process in freediving in todays format. Maybe a hard print magazine would help. What made it work in climbing was the attitude of the "elite" climbers to share their ideas but to accept the ideas from anyone in the community and to accept the consensus of the climbing community. People like Royal Robbins, Yvon Chounard, and later Henry Barber, Ron Kauk, and Lynn Hill, to name a few of the superstars of sport, all worked within the consensual ethics and standards of practice. I am not ever going to be one the "elite" in this sport but I want to be part of the consensus process. It is wonderful when an average freediver like myself can participate in a discussion like this with someone like Erik who has the potential to be one of the great freedivers. Finally, I don't agree that Pippin is promoting freediving. Pippin is promoting Pippin. And I am not interested in lessons in narcissism. Hopefully, Streeter or one of new superstars will start to take an active role in building consensus to promote the sport and not simply to modifying the sport to promote themselves. Your comment that the person who promotes themselves the best is often the person who wins confuses me. Wins what? Tiger Woods spent 15 years learning to play golf then started winning on the world stage which led to his earning money by promoting himself but he won by beating the best in head to head competition. Thanks for your continued input and thoughtful comments Tom. Again, I hope your willingness to challenge my ideas will encourage others to participate in this process because without that we will never develop consensus.

PS. Tom go to the freedive equipment forum under scleral contact lens. Erik turned me onto to the fluid goggles. I thought I had ordered some but have never heard back. I'll post what else I find out. Warmly, Angus
Well Angus,

I admit that I groaned when I read the words consensus and ethics as they relate to a sport. It reminded me of the endless hours spent discussing rockclimbing styles, categories and definitions. AND, your polling enlightened me as to how important these discussions were/are. I took place in a consensus activity without being aware of what we were doing. I agree that without questioning what is or is not competition, ethical and how we categorize/define this awesome activity we (have all agreed to) call freediving, we will lose sight of what freediving is. What if someone attempted to popularize the use of manmade variable ballast to reach deeper depths (it might already have happened and I am to novice to know)? I am confident we would all eventually agree on some kind of variation such as using only rocks from the immediate dive spot as ballast. Climbers are still discussing what is an acceptable distance between climbs and how many permanent anchors can be put in before someone is defacing a climbing area. I would also like to see a group form to do comparisons of categories etc. As you stated: magazines are great place for this to happen, and may be the easiest, not to mention the most accessible to a large population. Deeperblue forum is a great start! Any editors up to the task?
Last edited:
Lets throw down the glove!


Well - i'm glad to see that we have a great discussion going on here...when this site was setup a good few years ago (3 years old on 1st May!!) none of us involved could ever have imagined it growing to this point. :DD

As you stated: magazines are great place for this to happen, and may be the easiest, not to mention the most accessible to a large population. Deeperblue forum is a great start! Any editors up to the task?

Octo - well, these forums spark discussion and provide note only a focal point for the Freediving Community, but also allow us to research new features. We will be investigating the posibility of running a series of articles on this issue (in fact we looked into running a special series a while ago called "Unified Certification").

Keep the ideas flowing guys...(and gals)
Reply to Octo

Octo, welcome to discussion. As you have noticed we have several very thoughtful and insightful folks involved in this discussion and it is always nice to have new voice. One of the very nice things so far is that folks such as Erik and Thands have been demonstrated a wonderful easy in presenting complex ideas and differing points of view without rancor or polemics. It is nice to have another clear voice join in. I appreciate the directness of your request to others. I would appreciate from you and the others who have been contributing or following this discussion on how to invite more people to participate. We have many people checking in but few are adding their thoughts. One notion is to encourage people to participate in any manner that they can. Erik, Thands, and I appear to comfortable with extensive comments. This discussion can benefit with briefer and simpler contributions as your reply demonstrates. Thanks for joining in. Nice to see that the medication is working (inside joke, Octo is family). Later Bro.


Nice to see families are now getting involved with discussing these issues.

As far as getting more people involved, that falls under my realm here on Deeper Blue. We have a basic email-a-friend system on the main site here:


But we tend to use that to send general notices for people to look at the site.

For these discussion threads, I suggest we use the "Email This Page to Someone!" facility available to everyone at the top right of the page. This allows you to send a short email message to a friend with a link to the active topic thread in the forums...allowing them to jump in and start discussing. This email appears to have come from you so is more personal.

These are the types of features i'm trying to encourage people to use...I hope you guys/gals will help out.

just to se the record straight I do not disagree with most of your points...I just like to offer different point of views. Although I still think Pippin has been a benefi to the freediving community. I believe Tanya first got involved through Pippin, Kirk Krack was involved with Pippin, Kirk Krack now coaches Tanya and Bret Lemaster...and the story goes on. Here in Bermuda most every one knows who Pippin and Tanya are...reason being is that they are fellow islanders. We also do not have a wide variety of informational (print) sources, those of us interesed make use of great sites like this. When I mentioned climbing, I guess I was not even thinking about rock climbing I guess my mind was on mountain climbing. You presented some interesting information, I never knew climbing was so competitive.

I read your comment about freediving with goggles, all I could think of was your eyes popping out of your sockets
Reply to Thands

Dear Thands, I had the sense that there was a broad common ground between us on this. The role of these people in training is not in question, nor is their knowledge and expertise. The ability of this forum to reach across boundaries is one its strenghts as is the ability to exchange ideas and information in real time. I hope that I have clear in my appreciation for your point of view and the value that dissenting opinions have in developing consensus. You balance and thoughtfulness has been readily apparent which provided a valuable model of how to have a true discussion in which differences are respected and valued. To often the model of disagreement is one of anger and hostility in which sides are drawn and people will only listen to those that they agree with. For me the value of this process is that it forces me to clarify my own thoughts and to rethink what I have held as true. For example I was unaware of Pippin announcing that he would do a "two stage" dive. Erik corrected me on that. You bring another important perspective to the discussion; that of culture and community. The role of Pippin and Streeter in island communities was not something that I had ever considered. I apologize if any of my comments seem to be an attack on your culture and community. I envy those of you living in the Caribbean islands.I was in Belize and out on the Cayes on the barrier reef for two weeks in March - my first time in warm water. I am thoroughly excited about exploring more of the islands and learning more of cultures of Caribbean. One of my strongest memories was watching our guide, a large heavy set man named Clive, who had taken us out to the marine preserve at Laughing Bird Caye, as he along the coral. The effort less grace of every movement throughout the dive was mesmerizing. I found myself laying on the surface, totally entranced, trying to lock the vision of his ability into my memory so that I had model to shoot for. If I am half as graceful and at ease as Clive I will be thrilled. Throughout my stay the guides were interested and excited with my Picasso Black Team fins, and we had lively discussions about freediving. I felt wonderful being an accepted part of this freediving culture that historical predates any notions of world records depths or competition categories. Another guide, Junior, a young muscle man, talked about spearfishing at -60' and various techniques. In one afternoon of diving with him I saw more marine live in more variety than I had on all of my unguided dives combined. To be able to get most mornings and know that you can be in deep, clear, warm water that is full of life in few moments must be wonderful. I continue to threaten my wife that we are moving to the Caribbean as soon as I can figure out how to make a living their as a child psychologist. Although this is somewhat off the point of this discussion I hope that it helps clarify some of my intent and motivation for initiating this discussion.

My eyeballs are still in there socket because I use goggles that have less that .15% of the volume of my eyeballs at the surface. With compression the volume is reduced to less than 10% as the goggles compress. Unfortuntely there is some eye bulge and I have had some pretty red eyes at times. I still have not heard about when I will receive the fluid goggles that I ordered. I am still researching scleral contact lenses and think that that may still be the best solution. I'll keep you posted. (Now if I could only find a way to get rid of the weight belt ....). Warmly, Angus
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