From the top floor of a 20-story skyscraper, you can see the busy buzzing of the city below, and the interplay of sun and shadow on buildings blocks away; the horizon, with its inkling of adventure, is just out of the line of sight.
From 200 feet under the sea -- the equivalent of that same 20-story building, upended and dunked -- you experience very little. Almost zero light from the surface reaches down that far as the cold leaches through even the thickest wetsuit, and the silence is oppressive. There is no comforting horizon -- as for most people who reach this depth, there is no hope.
Your diaphragm contracts with such ferocity that it feels like you did a shot of kerosene.
A human diver without scuba equipment hundreds of feet underwater suffers huge physical effects. The pressure causes lungs to contract to the size of tennis balls; hands and feet turn blue as blood rushes away from your extremities to the organs critical for survival: your brain and your heart.
Every instinct you have screams for you to breathe -- your diaphragm contracts with such ferocity that it feels like you did a shot of kerosene -- and you may hallucinate.
“You can’t hide from yourself in the water,” says Grant Graves, a freediver and judge with AIDA International, the sport’s global governing body.
During the Deja Blue Freediving Competition in the Cayman Islands in May, 22-year-old Grant Hogan reached more than 200 feet underwater on one breath of air in an attempt to set an American record. While he was in the deep, he had two incredulous thoughts: How did I get down here? And how do I get out?
Check out the November issue of Red Bulletin magazine (on newsstands October 11) for more of the article. To read the magazine on your iPad, download the Red Bulletin iPad app.