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Sled Records

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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Mermaid, Musician and Marketer
Nov 12, 2002
some people are calling for AIDA to stop ratifying sled records (no limits and variable)

wondered what the world thought...... I think I kind of agree.... prefer the disciplines where you rely on your own body rather than some welded metal and a lift bag...

I think it will continue regardless under the banner of 'pushing the barriers of human limits'. However, I think it is getting to an unmanageable level now as the 200m mark is fast approaching, in so far as strict regulation is concerned - the expense to make it official with a ratifying body is way above the cost of doing it for yourself still with adequate safety (i.e. DRUMs, Counterweight etc).

Do you think we will go back to the days of CMAS, where they suddenly stopped ratifyimng freediving on safety grounds and it carried on regardless under the banner of scientific research?

I like the idea of there being only 2 freediving record categories:

Unrestricted (No limits), and
No assistance (only fins allowed and no pulling on any ropes, even at the turn)

That way there would only ever be 4 world record holders in depth diving.

All the disciplines would continue, of course but there wouldn't be the need to have 10 world record holders of depth disciplines at the same time (there could be 12 if monofins and bifins counted separately)
I hope that it is OK for me to quote from this interview that Tanya Streeter gave to Diver Magazine (October 2002). If there are any objections I'll delete the post straight away:

'My female competitor in No Limits uses an equalisation technique that involves flooding her sinuses, for which I admire her, because it isn't a pleasant sensation, but the advantage is great - there is no need to equalise at all, so her dives are much faster and, in theory, there seems to be no limit to the depth she could achieve.'

Tanya refers, of course, to Mandy-Rae Cruickshank. Were this technique to be commonly used, No Limits could seem like little more than a dangerous (and expensive) form of static apnea.

I agree with you, Sam. I'm not a competitive diver myself (I dive because of my love of the water, not to see how deep / long / far / whatever). However, I am interested to see what these incredible athletes are capable of using their own bodies.
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before the matter of 'purity' is raised, let's not forget that we are not born with big pieces of fibreglass stuck to our feet :t constant weight without fins is the only pure form of freediving, if there is such a thing.

i see no reason to stop doing no-limits just yet. i'm not aware of any evidence to suggest that we've reached a physiological limit.
i'm sure it's possible to safely cover a 200m nolimits dive (and possibly much further - without using scuba). after all we've sent men to the moon and back safely! it all comes down to money in the end. the bottom line is this: the deeper you go, the more it's gonna cost you... there will always come a point when you simply can't afford to do the dive safely...
HI there,

My view is from a business angle. My experience, and I have had a great deal over the last 3 years, is that generally the worlds media is not interested in constant, FI or static and are only interested in VB and NL. Its the extreme depths that fascinates the media and general public and gets mainstream sponsors involved. We cannot turn back the clock and these disciplines will continue whether we like it or not. Both of thses disciplines can be done safely but of course it does cost some money. I believe that athletes will go below 200m in the near future and I know one who I think could do it given the right conditions. As for the people trying to stop NL and VB, let me ask have they ever tried it at a reasonable depth and if they want to stop it on the grounds of safety then they do not understand the discipline or the safety measures that can be implemented.

Sam! Have you ever tried NL? If you did you would be blown away by the rush. Try it first to a decent depth and then make an opinion.

If we are talking purity then we should stop motor racing as we were not born with mechanical devises to drive round a track.

Thats all from me for now!
To take a slightly different slant on this, No Limits is probably the most interesting discpline to the general media and public at large. It has generated the largest sponsorships and the biggest media attention.

From that perspective there is an argument that it is a necessity to help drive the growth of the sport forward until other discplines become more "media interesting"...
Nice thread Sam.

There will always be someone who wants to push the edges of an envelope and being fastest, highest deepest etc will always be an obsession for someone somewhere. Even attempts on records I consider dangerous, such as the deepest scuba dive on air still happen occasionally and that one has claimed a bunch of lives over the years. It won’t stop, sooner or later there will be another attempt even though it’s condemned by the vast majority of the dive industry.

I agree with Ben that the no limits attempts will continue regardless.

I think that’s regardless of whether or not they are ratified by an international body and maybe in the worst case where there is no official scrutiny, regardless of the safety considerations. If AIDA or some other organisation won’t ratify the records, then the media will by stating the record as fact, which is enough for the general public and probably enough for the athlete. Nothing stops the athlete just doing it if they have the money or sponsors. They can even start their own organisation to monitor the attempt.

The logistics for no limits are getting difficult in the extreme. Alun mentioned doing 200m dives without support divers and he’s probably right. How do you safely station a safety diver at depths close to 200m? There is a tiny handful of technical divers who would be happy at 200m and they are probably in as much physical danger than the no limits diver.

The answer may be in a retrieval system operated in conjunction with an ROV but the attempts are so expensive already, what happens when the desire to succeed is greater than the desire to be as safe as possible?

I am not even sure if AIDA's influence is enough but I would say they need to keep ratifying the no limits records, if only to try and keep the safety factor on attempts as high as they can.

If there was no such thing as "no limits" I would probably never have heard of freediving at all. I have no desire to compete in VB or NL, however I'd love to give it a try to a modest depth sometime!

I think VB and NL are amazing to watch, and I think freediving as a whole would feel incomplete without them. I also agree that AIDA should keep ratifying these catagories if only because of the level of safety they require.

Sam, I think you said you did some conservative depth VB drops. How was it?

i've been lucky enough to try NL and VB to reasonable depths - and Paul is right - it's an amazing experience. i can't wait to do it again :)
I envy you Alun, a NL dive has been on my to do list ever since I first saw The Big Blue. One day I'll arrange it, just for the experience but in the meantime, VB dives seem to be more realistic and achievable with the right buddy at the right time.

Would you mind posting some details about the VB and NL dives you did?

No Limits is definitely impressive and i don`t think that AIDA should stop ratifying such records. But I definitely think it`s way overrated because it has the least to do with freediving of all the diciplines. But still, it gets by far the most public attention which is why we need it. The problem is partly the different point of views (divers vs public). You might have noticed how much attention Tanya gets for a NL record. So many other records have been broken since without anyone outside the sport knowing it. This makes NL invaluable for the freediving community but might raise a feeling of slight overkill as well. At least for me.
Greets, joe
Hi there,

With regard to Tanya's media attention and the No Limits and to be honest there was just as much media attention for the VB as well. The reason she gets media attention is that we took a chance. We were at the right time of our personal and career lives to say ' What could we do if we gave everything to promoting the sport and Tanya"? Not many people are able to do that and so we did. Tanya and I quit our jobs, ( and mine was a very well paid job ) put our plans on hold to see if we could make a living out of the sport and to make Tanya a mini celebrity ( although she would hate me to say that ). I spend 10 hours a day 6 days a week working with TV and print media to get Tanya into the media spotlight. Its an uphill struggle but we are definately over the top of the hill now. Obviously Tanya has some assetts that others do not, and in my opinion she has the whole package from selling pont of view. I believe that every freediving champion could get the coverage that Tanya has, you just have to give up your old life and take on a new one. But also let me say, it is not as financially great as some may think. In the first years we did this I, and Tanya used to supplement our income, I used to lay tiles or fixing doors so we could pay the mortgage, and thankfully this year we are over that hill as well. But in conclusion we could not have done it without doing NL and VB and the sport would only get a tiny % of the media it currently gets without those 2 disciplines.

During our world record training dives we used to have a great deal of time while the divers were on deco. We would raise the line up to a shallow depth and then give a clinic to willing spectators and then let them have a go on the sled. Some would only go to 3m and some to 30m but all came back to the surface with the biggest grin on the face you could ever see. Its definately a thrill and I would say that its here to stay and don't knock it until you have tried it.
hi Ash,

i did some NL and VB dives when i was supporting Steve Truglia during his training here in the UK in Feb-Mar 2002. we were diving in my local pond... which is 108m deep :) i think the deepest i went to was 68... not that deep really, but it was enough to properly appreciate the discipline.

i've done quite a few dives over the years and those dives are still some of the most enjoyable i've done. being head-up makes equalisation so much easier. it was at that time that i taught myself how to auto-equalise with the mouthfill technique. i would apply some frenzel pressure to open the tubes at the surface - release the brake - then just whizz down. the technique meant that i could totally forget about equalising my ears - they took care of themselves. i only had to equalise the mask. so i would feel no pressure on my ears and not hear any pops throughout the entire descent - that was an amazing new experience for me. watching the green turn to black and hearing the buzzing sound slowly increasing in pitch... and finally hearing a loud crack as the sled hit the bottom plate. the strange thing at the bottom was how i felt absolutely no sensation of pressure on my thorax - that surprised me - i expected to feel really crushed.

some people can get freaked out by the sled because they're not comfortable with the idea of being pulled down by a weight, and they don't feel in control. i felt really happy on the sled from the beginning, despite having a bad first dive! (i didn't tighten my belt enough, and so my wet-suit jacket scooped up gallons of 5C water! i'll never forget the shock... :( :eek: ) if you are 100% familiar with the sled and know that everything is working as it should and have double checked everything then you can feel confident and relax and enjoy the dive. without those things people often feel quite nervous and don't enjoy the experience as much.
i forgot to mention that one of the best dives was when i did a tandem NL dive with Steve - just 40 because it was the first time we had done tandem... it was really good fun and quite strange to be down there with someone else, when i'm used to being on my own.

i've attached a photo of myself on the sled - taken from the surface just as i started my descent. i would normally tuck the lift bag under my arm, but it slipped out on this dive, which is why it's flapping about.


  • nolimitsalun.jpg
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I only ever tried variable ballast once (no sled, just a hand weight). I figured I'd go to a conservative depth which I could easily do in constant weight. I turned around at 53m and finned back up, and blacked out at the surface! Turns out I was extremely exhausted before the dive from lifting the weight up from the previous diver. However, I didn't realize my air was bad during the dive itself, because the descent was so easy. There were no 'signals' in the lungs like in constant weight. I just got to the bottom and thought, 'okay, that was easy.' Then only a few seconds into the ascent, I was like 'Oh ***** this one is going to be close!' That was back in early 2001. Haven't done it since.

When I got to the surface it was pretty funny. I broke the surface, started breathing, took off my mask, then face planted and started shaking, which was when my buddy Laminar pulled me upright again. Now I had 5C water in my nose too!

Eric Fattah
BC, Canada
'My female competitor in No Limits uses an equalisation technique that involves flooding her sinuses,'
Can anyone explain this technique or is there a document on it available? Is there such a thing as pre flooding sinuses? Any help would be welcome here as my sinuses are worse than any other 50 meter diver's.
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Paul, people - didn't really want to express an opinion when I started this thread - just happened to read somewhere someone suggesting AIDA stop recognising NL and to be honest I was shocked. I haven't tried NL.. well I have but it was conservative and I felt good so I swam up and yes it is a rush..... having had a couple of Bends my docs are not happy with me doing NL now but I might do some more variable.

Watched a few NL videos recently with a friend who is new to freediving and then after that showed him the cyprus dvd of constant dives - and well, it makes you wonder why the media is so obsessed with NL when CW makes much better viewing.....

at the moment, the main reason I have a few "anti" NL vibes going in is that quite a few of the saltfree divers have been muttering about getting a sled in there..... and basically as the club leader it scares me! not when I do it but watching them disappear into the green and hoping they come back up...

if we do get one I will be calling on the world again for safety advice! and shipping Loic or Tanya over to set it up!!

i think the risks could be significant if people were to routinely go way past the depths they do in constant. if they were limited to their constant PBs then you know they have enough puff to reach the surface should anything go wrong, even after faffing about at the bottom. ok, that may dissappoint some people, but at least the dives would have a very generous safety margin. having a sled in there for everyone should really be about the experience and having a little fun, rather than giving people a ticket to the bottom?... just my thoughts.

sorry Bill, i can't help you with info about sinus flooding... i'm a freshwater diver... i've never tried it.
No limit and variable is by far some of the best dives I have had. Last time I followed a stone down to 50 meters and had a nice slow swim back up. Actually beeing able to spend some energy "experiencing" a deep dive is nice (I usually dive with closed eyes).

BUT - I am the guy who recently voiced my opinion that AIDA should stop verifying No limits and variable weights. My arguments are:
1) It is not as much an athletic discipline as the others.
2) It is more likely to claim deaths than the other disciplines.

What I am saying is that I think NLT VWT should go on, but be ratified by another organization (As far as I have seen the FREE rules are more focused on safety than the AIDA, but FREE has stopped with ratifying these records).

I think AIDA should follow and be the "competition organization" and promote the sportive side, not the records (we will se less and less of them).

If AIDA is linked to another death during a comp or record it will take longer getting the sport accepted as anything else as a daredevil lifestyle thing.

There will be two kinds of media attention. Most of it will fall on the spectacular NLT/VWT records done by specatacular women ;-)

Another kind of media attention will be focused on the SPORT and be dealt by by SPORTJOURNALISTS not the lifestyle angle or scientific angle.

I am sure Tanya trains hard and has a talent to explore. But it is alot of technical and organizational challenges (economical) in NLT. As someone said - flood your sinuses and hold you breath.

About flooding your sinuses - you can never totally flood all your cavities. And not with a mask, you need to hold you (nose Clip). Check this Yoga cleansing process;

It should be the same salinity as the body (2%). Ocean water has 4% but it can do but is not that healthy. Cold water can also cause other problems (nasuea, balance problems?)

Sebastian Sweden