Herbert Nitsch

photo credit Nazim Ahmed

Herbert Nitsch, nicknamed “the Deepest Man on Earth”, is the current freediving world record holder with a No Limit dive to 253 m (830 ft). Nitsch can hold his breath for more than 9 minutes and has set a total of 33 world records, 32 of these are across all of the eight freediving disciplines – unrivaled achievements in freediving history. He has also set an additional world record in the traditional Greek freediving discipline of “Skandalopetra”. He is the first freediver ever to reach 100 m (328 ft) without fins or sled (in the free immersion discipline, in 2003).

On June 6th, 2012, Herbert during his 253 m (830 ft) No Limit sled-dive, well after having reached the planned depth, Herbert temporarily fell asleep due to nitrogen narcosis and consequently missed the planned one-minute underwater decompression stop on the same breath-hold. At the surface, he was alert and asked for a mask to return underwater to recompress on pure oxygen, which is a standard after-dive safety feature to further off-gas. While decompressing underwater, Herbert felt the onset of decompression sickness. He incurred severe DCS (type 2) which would eventually result in multiple brain-strokes. He arrived comatose at the hyperbaric chamber and his future did not look good. With a prognosis of remaining a wheelchair-bound care-dependent patient, he dismissed himself from long-term facilitated care and took his healing into his own hands. Two years later, against all odds, Herbert is fit, training, and deep-freediving again.

In December of 2013, Herbert proudly joined the Ocean Advocacy Advisory Board of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. He is also a well-sought after lecturer and key-note speaker worldwide for corporate events and for the general public.

His sponsors included Breitling, Hyundai, Landrover, Shell V-Power, Coors Miller Light, SeaBob, Canon, and many others.

3 words to describe Nature?

Life. Water. Power

3 things Nature taught you?




3 most treasured Nature spots?

All of them are below the surface:  

Fakarava’s South Pass, French Polynesia 

Palau, Micronesia

And anywhere with shipwrecks, caves, and abundant marine life

When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel…?

Part of it

When you see a forest, it makes you feel…?


When you see a volcano, it makes you feel…?


When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel…?

Like free-diving (since at these times there’s the most action underwater to observe).

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…?


When you hear the wind howling, it makes you feel…?

Like sailing away

Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person?

I’m definitely an ocean person, although I enjoy living part of the year in the mountains, surrounded by forests. 

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being?


Share with us a childhood nature memory?

The first underwater memory I have is snorkeling as a kid in the Maldives. This was about four decades ago. At the time the waters were abundant with marine life. I treasure this moment since I am aware that I cannot relive this memory, as sadly, such richness underwater does not exist anymore.