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Cayman dive winner dies after descending 72 metres in The Bahamas


AN AMERICAN man has died on the surface after diving to a depth of 72 metres in a major international freediving competition.

Nick Mevoli was a New Yorker who only took up the sport of competitive diving a year ago. He soon got good, winning a competition in the Cayman Islands.

This week’s competition was Vertical Blue, an event in the Bahamas regarded as the pinnacle of the sport.

Mevoli was trying to break a record for the deepest ‘Constant No Fins’ free dive, an event organiser said.

In other words, swim down as far as you can without flippers, then swim back up again.

Mevoli descended 72 metres entirely under his own power, in a time reported as three minutes 38 seconds.

When he reached the surface, he reportedly ripped off his goggles and flashed the OK sign.

But according to the New York Times, the Brooklyner was anything but OK. His words were nonsensical and his eyes blank.

Mevoli then lost consciousness, something which apparently happens to many freedivers. But unlike them, Mevoli never awoke, despite the attention of five trained medical staff.

Thirty-four athletes from 16 nations (literally) descended upon the Bahamas this week for a range of diving record attempts, but the event was cancelled after the death of Mr Mevoli.

Freediving’s governing body AIDA said it was the first death in the 21 year history of the sport. It issued a statement, which read:

It is with great sadness that I inform you that Nicholas Mevoli, of the United States, passed away today after a dive at the 2013 Vertical Blue Competition. Nick had performed a constant weight no fins dive to 72m, reached depth, and swam back to the surface successfully. Nick attempted to complete the surface protocol, but was unsuccessful and had difficulty breathing. He lost consciousness, and in spite of great efforts by the doctor and paramedic on site, failed to recover after reaching the local hospital. Nick appears to have suffered from a depth-related injury to his lungs.

Nick lived in Brooklyn, New York, and worked in the television industry. He was a passionate waterman, spearfisherman and freediver, and vocal advocate for the sport in the United States. Nick was an extraordinary talent, breaking the US constant weight record shortly after beginning competitive freedive in 2012. This year, Nick took second place in the inaugural Caribbean Cup in Roatan, first place at the Deja Blue competition in Curaçao, and a silver medal in constant no fins at this year’s AIDA Depth World Championship in Greece.

Nick’s friends will miss his warm smile and sense of humor, and eagerness to spearfish and dive at any time.

Aida Board

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