Technical freediving can be defined as freediving augmented by the use of oxygen-enriched gases or oxygen before, during, or after a freedive. As a result of these techniques, breath-hold divers can visit and enjoy underwater wrecks, reefs, and other diving locations previously located at depths unreachable to apnea divers. By pre-breathing oxygen-enriched gases in conjunction with hyperventilation—which decreases the partial pressure of carbon dioxide (PCO2)—the technical freediver now has additional oxygen to facilitate aerobic respiration during the dive. In addition, pre-breathing oxygen decreases tissue nitrogen tensions, which limits inert gas loading and decreases the risk of decompression sickness (DCS). Finally, this technique decreases PCO2, which diminishes the urge to breathe. Consequently, a diver may be able to dive longer before critical hypoxia or hypercarbia forces an ascent. Technical freediving can also be complemented by the use of a diver propulsion vehicle to increase the speed of descent and ascent and minimize exertion. The techniques of technical freediving may be associated with increased risks in central nervous system oxygen toxicity, DCS, and arterial gas embolism. As the boundaries of apnea diving continue to expand, there will be considerable opportunities to investigate the physiological limits of the human body and to determine the safest methodologies to practice this evolving discipline.
Covington, Derek; Lee, Robert H.; Toffel, Steven; Bursian, Alberto; Krack, Kirk; and Giordano, Chris
"Technical Freediving: An Emerging Breath-Hold Diving Technique,"
Journal of Human Performance in Extreme Environments: Vol. 15
Available at: https://docs.lib.purdue.edu/jhpee/vol15/iss1/3