Freediving with Karol Meyer | JONATHAN BIRD’S BLUE WORLD

Hi, I’m Jonathan Bird and welcome to my world! Divers love warm, clear water. And one of
the most well-known locations for relaxed tropical scuba diving is the island of Bonaire. Bonaire is located in the southern Caribbean,
not far from the coast of Venezuela. It’s a beautiful, sunny island, which enjoys
sea breezes powerful enough to generate electricity, and has a long history of making salt from
the ocean. The last time I visited Bonaire, I was on
a mission to film spawning coral. But this time I’ll be doing some diving without a
scuba tank. Diving without scuba gear is called freediving,
and frankly I’m not that good at it. I’ve been invited to a freediving class
at Buddy Dive Resort. It’s being taught by Karol Meyer, a world-champion freediver
from Brazil. She can hold her breath for over 18 minutes! I head down to the pool where Karol is practicing
static apnea—which means holding your breath while you lie very still. We can start the
class as soon as she comes back up from this breath.
I’ll be back! Wow, that took longer than I was expecting! Now we can head on over to the classroom.
Karol discusses techniques for breathing, rescue techniques and of course, safety. Next, Karol gives me some tips on breathing
with my belly in order to get more air into my lungs. All my life I have been breathing,
and I thought I was doing it well. But it turns out I’m doing it all wrong for freediving! Since freedivers have been known to black
out if they try to hold their breath a little too long, the class practices rescue techniques—how
to hold someone with their head above the water and open the airway to make sure they
breathe. First Karol demonstrates, then the students try. You are definitely going to drown, I’m sorry. After a few attempts I get the hang of it…mostly.
I’m kind of hoping I don’t have to rescue anyone! Finally we practice static apnea. We relax,
take big breaths and float quietly face down in the pool. Nobody in our group is going
to set a record, but we are trying to see how long we can comfortably hold our breaths.
I’m not wearing a mask because water on the face triggers what is called the mammalian
diving response—a lowering of heart rate and conservation of oxygen. The water on my
face literally helps me hold me breath longer. After a few attempts, I manage to go just
shy of three full minutes without a breath! I have never held my breath that long. That’s all fine and good, but static apnea
is a lot different from swimming in the ocean. Karol takes the class out onto the reef to
practice freediving. We gather around a float with a line going down into the blue. One
at a time, Karol takes each of us down. We go only to a predetermined depth so nobody
gets in trouble, or has a problem getting back to the surface. Soon it’s my turn! The line helps me swim
straight down, so I don’t waste energy going diagonally. At fifty feet, we turn and come
back up, gently, conserving energy to make that one breath last. Less than a minute later,
I’m back at the surface. There’s no way I could hold my breath for three minutes while
swimming! What a day! Today I did some stuff I never
thought I would do! With Karol’s instruction I held my breath for almost three minutes
and I dove to 52 feet without a scuba tank! The next day, I head on over to the dive shop
again, because Karol is taking the class out on the reef for a few hours of freediving
practice. We will each partner up with a buddy and hone our skills. Karol is wearing a big monofin attached to
both feet. It takes strong leg muscles to swim with this kind of fin, but it provides
a lot of thrust. With it, she swims like a dolphin! And like a dolphin, Karol can go
a long time without breathing down there. You might ask why freedive if you can scuba
dive? Why hold your breath if you can strap on a tank and breathe all you like? Well,
it’s peaceful, it’s less intrusive in the marine environment, the fish seem much
less bothered by freedivers than scuba divers, and it’s just a fun skill to develop. But
it requires practice. Lots of practice. So, my buddy and I are practicing and getting
better all the time. The goal isn’t to go deeper, but to stay longer on the reef, to
have more time to look around. Karol shows me I have a long way to go! But
as I get more and more comfortable, I’m able to spend more than a minute down on the
reef. And my deeper dives are passing the 60 foot mark. And this is with only a few
days of training and practice! Later in the day, Karol and I spend an hour
diving together. Well, sort of. I can’t really keep up! Karol has set over a dozen world records,
not just for static apnea. She has been down to depths over 500 feet on just one lungful
of air! Today, swimming around a reef with her class, is just goofing around, easy stuff
for Karol. So at the end of my week of training, Karol
certifies that I am a real free diver. And I have the pin to prove it. And now it’s up to me to keep practicing,
to become one with the sea. Maybe someday I won’t need a scuba tank anymore and I’ll
become part dolphin like Karol–but somehow I doubt it!

100 thoughts on “Freediving with Karol Meyer | JONATHAN BIRD’S BLUE WORLD

  1. You guys are amazing. I really appreciate all the hard work and effort that goes into these videos. I'm sure everybody else thinks the same.

  2. 18 MINUTES?! and 500 ft under. Wow, what would I do to have that skill. I wonder if they would let you go to tiger beach to free dive with em ? ??????????

  3. dang, at the end there, just casually wearing a bathing suit, giving you a prize pin…REALLY reminded me of pokemon. XD

  4. Jonathan, you are incredibly brave and amazing. I want to be just like you. I am twelve and I am almost done with the scuba diving certification process.

  5. i really enjoy your video man so well done and i love you as a person and i dont even know you that great <3 🙂

  6. Does that mean that most mermaid show divers (such as Mermaid Melissa) are free divers? If so that's awesome!!

  7. Needles to say that free divers that are able to hold their breath for a long time dont live that long

  8. Hi Jonathan! This helpful video inspired me to try it out for myself! I wanted to see how long I could hold my breath! Normally when I tried to hold my breath in the past, I would wear goggles! I had no idea about the water on your face thing! It actually worked! The first time I tried it I was only able to get 50 seconds of comfortable breathing! So I practiced over and over again! Every time I retried it my time went up a couple seconds! And each time I retried I took about two minutes of deep belly breathing first! Around the 5th try, I got one minute and 10 seconds! that's the longest I've ever been able to hold my breath! It's still nowhere near three minutes though! How do you do it? Maybe it's because you're a lot older than me! I'm only 15 so my lungs are probably more underdeveloped! I bet that if I practice doing this every time I go swimming, in a couple years I'll be able to hold my breath for 3 minutes! That would be a cool party trick!

  9. hey Jonathan, I'm a diver in training and I've nearly completed the PADI eLearning and I'm wondering why none of you are equalising

  10. I freedive, and my mom was learning with ya guys but you see, I can hold my breath 2 mins 39secs and I was able to freedive at 5 (myself I watched some videos in the shallow, at least I was safe

  11. Its impressive how he stays out for like years in the sun with his pale skin and then he still is pale!!

    Edit: omg thanks for the heart and thanks for telling me

  12. Been watching your vids for awhile addictively and i LOVE freediving so my jaw dropped when i saw a Jonathan Bird freediving video!!!!

    Sorry Avengers Endgame im going to watch Jonathan Bird freedive!

  13. Jonathan bigest dream is going scuba diving with you.But i live in indonesia and you live in unitted states i live in jakarta.if you love to dive give me like

  14. So, did you swim down 50 feet without equalizing? I'm not sure that I could go 20 feet. I have to equalize before diving into a swimming pool or I get painful slap on the side of my head. I'm pretty sure freediving isn't for me.

    I'm curious on normal dives how often you have to equalize?

  15. A life time of smoking and drinking keep me from holding that long, and i hate the cold and water. The only reson i go in the water is gold. Shiny rocks is why i go near the water…

  16. Jonathan you're too funny! The opening scene of you looking at your watch as she held her breath for 18 minutes and going to grab a meal, reading the paper, and laying in the sun as you checked your watch again was hilarious. I loved it. Thanks for your humor! ??

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