May 10, 2012

9 more days and counting!

Following this contest/competition, is all fine and good, but the real reason for the promoter Maurice Lacroix to initiate this contest, is to put together a team of great people who will follow, and write about, Sebastien Murat’s attempt at a world record deep-sea free dive.  It is wonderful to see that many people around the world are applying for the chance to win this opportunity.  However, who is Sebastien Murat?

I have searched the Internet on Google, Yahoo, Bing, Facebook (just to mention a few) to get more information.  In the category I applied to, English Blogger, there are over 50 people from around the world competing.  Not to negate the others, but I feel that I have done my homework, found out who Sebastien Murat is, what he does, what he is attempting, and feel that I could do a very good job at blogging Sebastien’s world record attempt.

For those who read my blog, and are not familiar with the name Sebastien Murat, perhaps I can provide a bit of information on this incredible person.

One of the more interesting items I found on the Internet, is a transcript of an ABC TV Science program that followed Sebastien on his world record attempt in 2004.

Sebastien, as he says of himself in this program, is “… just a regular guy who likes to go swimming.”  In a way, that could be said of a lot of people.  But how many of us can actually swim for 8 minutes without taking a breath of air?  How many of us can swim 200m on a single breath?  How many of us are willing to expose ourselves to the depths of the ocean where there is no air?

In 2004, in Kimbe Bay, on the island of New Britain in Papua New Guinea, Sebastien Murat attempted a deep diving challenge to reach 180m below sea level.  To get a perspective on this, that is about 50 floors of a building.  Half the height of Taipei 101!  It may not seem like a great distance, but add in the fact that, attempting this feat is not as easy as it sounds.  It’s one thing to rise into the sky 50 floors.  What must it be like to dive underwater?  The pressure of the water at that level is enough to burst blood vessels.  It would be almost black at that level without lighting.  There is no oxygen, no references that we could relate to, no sounds… just the silence and depth of the ocean.

I must admit, it kind of scares the hell of me!  I think it would scare most people – even if you DID have a breathing apparatus.  Perhaps being in a submarine or other vessel that could reach these levels would be fun and exciting, but to free dive, with nothing other than your swimsuit??

According to the article, the problem that deep sea divers face more, is not the depths, but the shallow waters once they get back up to the surface!  I found that interesting.  Hypoxia of ascent or ‘shallow-water blackout’, where the diver, upon returning to the surface, the oxygen and blood in their system begins to rush back into their bodies after having been compressed, and they end up basically passing out, close to the surface, and without someone there to help them, could end up drowning!

Other problems the diver can face that could be fatal, are decompression illness and compressed gas narcosis.  The latter is probably more what people have heard about.  That is when nitrogen, that has built up in the body, rushes into the bloodstream, and becomes fatal.  Our blood is meant to carry oxygen to the body – not nitrogen.

When most people get in the pool to swim, or go diving, they take a big breath of air before plunging their head down.  During this program, the narrator introduced the listener/viewer to the idea which Sebastien thought about, and that is, to breath OUT before diving deep.  Actually, he also used this technique in just swimming, and thus was able to stay under the water longer.

He (Sebastien) got the inspiration from our underwater mammals, the whale, seals, and walruses.  These mammals, much like ourselves, do require oxygen to survive.  However, they are also able to survive under the water, and in some cases, to very low depths and yet do no suffer the problems of hypoxia or compressed gas narcosis.  Why is that?  They allow their lungs to collapse, or ‘breath out’ before they dive into the water.

We as humans are so accustomed to our air, that the very thought of letting all the air out of our bodies before diving, seems almost mystical or unbelievable.  How could one possibly survive without air?

In the deep sea dive that Sebastien will attempt, not only will he (and does he) breathe out, but he will be pulled down by weights attached to his feet.  At a point that he begins to feel uncomfortable or where he figures he is at his limit, a flick of his feet, the weights will be dropped, and he will be pulled back up to the surface.  One interesting thing about this kind of a dive, is that there is little energy expended by him.  The weights do the work to pull him down, and the winch does the work to pull him up again.  All Sebastien will have to worry about, of course, is the urge to take a breath of air, but I’m sure he’s already practiced this procedure, but the pressure on his chest (lungs) and ears will be the other factor to contend with.

As much as it sounds intriguing, I don’t know many people in my circle of friends and family, who would be willing to try this procedure of deep diving.  The more I research and read about Sebastien and his world record attempt, and the closer the closing date of the contest arrives, and the hope that perhaps, I could be one the English Blogger for this occasion, I think it would be incredible to be able to have diving lessons from Sebastien.  I realize that he will be busy and concentrating on the task at hand, but a day or two of teaching the team what exactly he is doing, and having them try it, safely of course, will be a great perspective for their blogging.

Unfortunately, in 2004, the deepest Sebastien was able to dive was 154m.  That’s nothing to sneeze at, and for anyone else, that’s still a lot farther than they may want to venture, but it obviously gave Sebastien Murat the impetus to try to attempt a world record again.  Presently, the record (according to this program) stands at 171m!  Sebastien is attempting to go 180m!

I want to see this world record attempt!

That’s it, that’s all… for now!


1 Comment

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One response to “May 10, 2012

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