Herbert Nitsch

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Herbert Nitsch
Born (1970-04-20) 20 April 1970
Occupation World Record Holder Free-diver and Air pilot

Herbert Nitsch (born 20 April 1970) is an Austrian freediver who has held world records in all of the eight freediving disciplines recognised by AIDA International. He is the current freediving world record champion and “the deepest man on earth”. This title was given to him when he set a world record in the "No Limits" discipline at the depth of 214 meters (702 feet). To date, he has achieved 33 official World Records (see the table below), and one world record in the traditional Greek discipline of Skandalopetra 107 m (351 ft). He surpassed his own no limits depth with a world record dive in June 2012 to 253.2 meters (831 feet).


Nitsch worked part-time as a pilot for Tyrolean Airways.


Development as a freediver

Achievements and competition history

Nitsch holds the No-Limits record, the title of "Deepest man on Earth" in which the diver can make use of a weighted sled to descend as far as possible and uses an air-filled balloon to return to the surface. Nitsch set the world record[1] in Spetses, Greece in June 2007 when he descended to 214 m (702 ft), beating his own record of 183 m (600 ft) set the previous year. He also held the world record in the Constant Weight event, which is considered by many to be the classic free-diving discipline: the diver descends next to a line, not using the line and unaided by a sled, and must maintain a constant weight, meaning that no weight can be dropped for the return to the surface. Nitsch exceeded the then world record in 2006 when he dived to a depth of 110 m (361 ft), but failure to complete the strict surfacing protocols within the allotted time meant that the dive was disqualified. In Hurghada, Egypt, in December 2006 he did a Constant Weight World Record dive of 111 m (364 ft), adding 2 m on top of Guillaume Néry's previous record.

Later in 2007, he also set the Constant weight (No Fins) record during The Triple Depth in Dahab, Egypt, and went on to push the Constant record to 112 m (367 ft) during the World Championships in Sharm. Herbert also won the AIDA Individual World Championships.

Of the other five AIDA recognised events, Nitsch has been the world record holder in four: Static Apnea, Dynamic Apnea, Free Immersion and Dynamic apnea without fins. He set a time of 9 mins 4 secs for the world Static Apnea record in December 2006 when he held his breath underwater in a swimming pool in Hurgada, a time that was beaten by 4 secs in 2007 by Tom Sietas of Germany. His record of 66 m (217 ft) for Constant Weight without fins, set in 2004, was beaten by 14 m in 2005 by Czech free-diver, Martin Štěpánek, who is also the holder of the Free Immersion record of 106 m (348 ft); Nitsch recorded 100 m (328 ft) in September 2003, but his record was bettered by a dive of 101 m by Carlos Coste of Venezuela in October the same year and then twice improved upon by Štěpánek. Nitsch's Dynamic Apnea record, 183 m set in 2002, has been beaten by 40 m by Tom Sietas and women's champion, Natalia Molchanova of Russia, has also swum further than 200 m. Sietas also holds the Dynamic apnea without fins record at 183 m, beating Nitsch's 2001 distance of 134 m by almost 50 m.

During the 2009 Vertical Blue competition at the Dean's Blue Hole in Bahamas, he broke the Free Immersion world record at 109 m (358 ft). On the last day of the competition, he performed a world record dive in Constant Weight at 120 m (394 ft), beating by 6 m the previous record that he had set a few days earlier. He used his arms only in the last 40 m (131 ft) of this ascent, with a total dive time of 3:58.

In 2012, Nitsch returned to the "No Limits" category in the waters off Santorini, Greece, with a project labeled "Extreme 800", aiming for a depth of 244 meters, the round number of 800 feet. An original intention of having also this dive sanctioned by AIDA fell through due to a sponsoring conflict between the two watchmakers Breitling (supporting Nitsch and the record project) and Suunto (supporting AIDA), leaving no officiating body to homologue the dive.

Following extensive training using an innovative torpedo-type sled design of very high descend and ascend speed, on June 6 Nitsch managed to reach a depth of 253.2 meters (831 ft), but ten minutes after the dive he experiencing serious symptoms of decompression sickness. Nitsch temporarily fell asleep due to nitrogen narcosis during the last part of the ascent (as opposed to through oxygen starvation), and woke back up prior to reaching the surface. Following a planned post-dive decompression, breathing medical oxygen at a shallow depth, he signaled his support team that he felt much weaker than normal, and his condition was assessed as critical enough to require an air transfer to a pre-alerted decompression chamber in Athens, where he received treatments. Nitsch subsequently received extensive decompression treatment in Germany.

Official Records

apnea Record Date Location
DNF 131 m 27 January 2001 Geneva
DYN 170 m 24 February 2001 Geneva
CWT 72 m* 16 June 2001 Millstätter See
CWT 86 m 11 October 2001 Ibiza
DYN 172 m 10 November 2001 Berlin
DNF 134 m 24 November 2001 Wiesbaden
DYN 181 m 2 February 2002 Vienna
FIM 92 m 27 February 2002 Austria
DYN 183 m 16 November 2002 Berlin
FIM 100 m 5 September 2003 Millstätter See
CWT 95 m 5 September 2003 Millstätter See[2]
CNF 50 m 6 September 2003 Millstätter See
CNF 62 m 11 September 2004 Spetses (Greece)
CNF 66 m 12 September 2004 Spetses
NLT 172 m 2 October 2005 Žirje (Croatia)
NLT 183 m 28 August 2006 Žirje
CWT 111 m 9 December 2006 Hurghada (Egypt)
STA 94 m 13 December 2006 Hurghada
NLT 185 m 13 June 2007 Spetses
NLT 214 m 14 June 2007 Spetses
CNF 83 m 21 October 2007 Dahab (Egypt)
CWT 112 m 1 November 2007 Sharm (Egypt)
CWT 114 m 4 April 2009 Long Island (Bahamas)
FIM 109 m 6 April 2009 Long Island (Bahamas)
CWT 120 m 11 April 2009 Long Island (Bahamas)
VWT 142 m 7 December 2009 Long Island (Bahamas)
FIM 112 m 8 December 2009 Long Island (Bahamas)
CWT 123 m 9 December 2009 Long Island (Bahamas)
FIM 114 m 19 April 2010 Long Island (Bahamas)
CWT 124 m 22 April 2010 Long Island (Bahamas)
FIM 120 m 25 April 2010 Long Island (Bahamas)
NLT 253.2 m 6 June 2012 Santorini

72m = AIDA Lake Record; after 2001-12-31 AIDA International no longer separated the records achieved in a lake from those in the sea.

Personal bests

Discipline Result Accreditation
Time STA 9:04min AIDA
Distance DNF 138m AIDA
Depth CNF 83m AIDA
NLT 253.2m
SP 107m CMAS

* AIDA no longer accredits No Limit freediving


Documentaires & TV

  • 2017: Herbert Nitsch, The Deepest Man On Earth, by UPROXX - Video on YouTube
  • 2016: Supertalent Mensch: Körperbeherrscher, by Terra X - Video on YouTube
  • 2013: Back from the Abyss / Züruck as der Tiefe, the multiple award winning documentary by Red Bull Media House - Trailer Back from the Abyss: Video on Vimeo and Video on YouTube
  • 2012: La Dernière Frontière, by Camera Lucida - Video on YouTube
  • 2011: The man who can hold his breath for nine minutes - Inside the Human Body: First to Last, by BBC One- Video on YouTube
  • 2009: Apnoetauchen: Neun Minuten ohne einen Atemzug, by Focus Online - Video on YouTube
  • 2009: Stefan Raab by TV Total Video on Vimeo
  • 2009: Aeschbacher by SRF Video on Vimeo


See also


  1. ^ "World Records". AIDA International. Archived from the original on 2013-12-06. Retrieved 2014-05-24. 
  2. ^ McKie, N (2004). "Freediving in cyberspace". Journal of the South Pacific Underwater Medicine Society. 34: 101–3. Retrieved 2013-10-05. 

External links