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Location: ., Austria
Fields of operation: Life & Health, Science
**FREEDIVER** Herbert Nitsch is the current freediving world record champion and “the deepest man on earth”. This prestigious title was given to him, when he then set the world record for freediving at an incredible depth of 214 meters in 2007 (no limits). On June 6th 2012, Herbert surpassed his own record with a dive to 249.6 meters (818.9 feet), but suffered from decompression sickness from which he recovered following his own path to health. This included a specific diet combined with a strict mental and physical training regime. Herbert can hold his breath for more than 9 minutes and has set 32 world records in all of the 8 recognized disciplines – unrivaled achievements in the freediving history. He holds an additional world record in the traditional Greek freediving discipline Skandalopetra. Unlike other elite freedivers Herbert is self-taught. He is a pioneer in every way. The highest security level, detailed planning and analyzing always is ahead of every dive. He was working as pilot for Austrian Airlines Group where check-lists and worst case scenarios were on his daily schedule. This highly security related and risk avoiding attitude helps him to achieve his ambitious goals within freediving. Furthermore he is keen about every technical detail of his equipment. Herbert´s motives are about the unknown, about crossing physiological boundaries, achieving goals that seem beyond the limits; overcoming mental blocks; and exploring, understanding, controlling and fine-tuning his own body and its bodily functions (heart rate, blood pressure, blood distribution, oxygen intake and consumption, understanding energy efficiency, etc.). Together with his international technical team he designs and produces highly innovative gear with hydrodynamic shapes and lighter materials. He also developed his own freediving techniques over the years, a methodology that largely differs from the common styles. And Herbert is one of the first freediving athletes who cooperates with a scientific advisory board and medical doctors. Very little scientific research has been done so far on the physiological effects of freediving, especially as deep as Herbert is diving. His unique freediving career started with a single coincidence. In the late nineties, while Herbert was on the way to a scuba dive safari, his diving equipment got lost somewhere in transit. So Herbert went snorkeling instead of scuba diving during the entire vacation. There Herbert discovered his natural talent for freediving very quickly. He was fascinated by the nature of this sport and was progressing fast. After freediving for two weeks only, he was two meters short of the Austrian National record. **PIONEER & INNOVATOR** Herbert Nitsch is known to be an independent thinker and pioneer in freediving. His freediving techniques are often to be found controversial, yet they have proven to be very effective and efficient. He brought many novel inventions to the freediving scene such as the neck weight; special deep-diving contact lenses; pipe-mask; fluid goggles. Herbert introduced existing equipment for the first time into freediving competitions, and while pursuing world records: monofin for dynamic apnea and deep diving; double lift bag for no limit diving; counterweight for no limit freediving. Herbert was the first to use specific safety features in freediving competitions such as: making a decompression stop and slow ascends during various disciplines, and re-descending after a deep dive with pure oxygen to recompense for any possible decompression illness related issues. He designed and invented new equipment for No Limit deep diving: carbon-covered solid-foam sleds without lift bags; automated sled with manual override speed control. This is a streamlined carbon sled with air-tanks for ascending instead of lift bags; multi engine electric winch with back-up instead of a counterweight system. As only freediver sofar, Herbert uses a self designed and novel equalization technique for his no-limit dives called EQUEX (Equalization Extension Tool). This is a large size Coke bottle with a hose attached to Herbert’s mouth. During a deep no limit dive, when descending on one breath, he stops at 10m depth temporarily. He then blows all of his air from the lungs plus all of the air from negative packing into the Coke bottle. This air which is used for equalizing ears and sinuses while descending to greater depths. Many of his innovations and introductions are now common elements in the freediving scene. **AIRLINE PILOT** Herbert Nitsch is a trained airline pilot and has worked as Captain for Tyrolean Airways for 15 years. Prior to that he worked as Co-Pilot for owners of private planes and business jets. Since 2010 Herbert has focussed his career fully on freediving. **YACHTSMAN** Being an avid sailor and windsurfer from an early age onward, Herbert feels at home above sealevel on the oceans too. His father, Gerhard, owned a Lagoon 42 catamaran for many years, and together they ventured the Caribbean seas. Over the past years Herbert has sailed additional catamarans such as a Lagoon 47 and a beautiful Nautitech 47. The latter was used for the 2012 record. Herbert and his team sailed it from Athens to Santorini, while pit-stopping along the way to spear fish for the evening meal. More detailed information is on his website [www.herbertnitsch.com](http://www.herbertnitsch.com/)