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Friday, March 25

Deep Emotion - video

"Un peu de douceur dans un monde de brutes..."
"Sometimes life blesses you with the greatest gift ever..."

Location: Bonaire
Image: Cedric Bourgaux
Music: Dan Foster - Rhapsody in Bloom; kindly authorized by
In collaboration with Blue Dream Productions, all rights reserved

Tuesday, February 1

Interview: The Sea holds a key

Red Sea, June 30th 2005, Patrick Musimu redefined the human limits with a dive on one breath to 209.6 m depth in "No Limit" discipline.

 At that time, diving below 200m depth in apnea was unthinkable. The majority of the free diving community was very skeptical about the magnitude of a dive like this, as this would represent an improvement of more than 30 m deep over the previous world record. It was unprecedented.

Musimu chose not to allow his performance to be ratified by any federation, and he proved it was possible to dive even beyond those depths breaking existing concepts and dogmas.

 According to him, "No Limit" is not and should not be part of a sport activity, but rather part of an adventure in the exploration of human potential.

Patrick Musimu is now involved in a new project called "No Limit Triple Quest”, which seeks to explore new depths in three forms of "No Limit": Tandem, Traditional and Absolute.

João Costa

January 2011

"The Sea holds a key to another dimension"

What did it mean for you to dive below 200m, back in 2005? Patrick Musimu: It meant freedom! Indeed, whether we like it or not, we are all part of a system that likes to conduct our behavior and lead our thoughts. My dive came to remind us that out there is still something called free will. My action had the merit of underlining and reminding us that we all have the ability to shape our dreams and make them reality. The barriers are in our minds. To accept one's limits or those set for us amounts to failing in our duty as human beings. The destiny no longer appears to be a mere forced order. It is given to us to make choices and hear the voice which speaks to us about this destiny.

What do you remember most from those moments? Patrick Musimu: If I had to summarize all what have been given to me to see, to touch, to feel down there I would say: “Down there I found a lake and started to breathe”

Why do you want to dive deeper, what is the appeal for the “big blue”? Patrick Musimu: Can't explain you why. I just need it. Deep diving is about repositioning myself. Down there I enter in another dimension. I touch the 7th sense where “I'm no longer”. Each cell lives like an entity on its own.

So deep Freediving for you is more than body and mind fitness? Patrick Musimu: Deep Free diving is a form of yoga. Any activity practiced with assiduity and perseverance can lead you to an upper level of Consciousness, so is painting, martial arts, etc… Only the “No Limits” could allow me to focus on the mind more than the body/fitness.

How do you prepare yourself for such depths, how do you tune your body and mind? Patrick Musimu: I afford myself a 20-40minutes session of meditation every day. Practice aerobic activities for 20min (2 or 3x/week) with max bpm 120, plus 2 sessions/day of spine flexibility and spine muscle stimulation (no reinforcement!)

That seems a general training for any other sport, are there any specific techniques Patrick Musimu: The secret is all in the details. I've set world records in all kind of depth disciplines. Even when I set record in CW my training routine was 2 times training in the gym. It's all about efficiency. But to get to this result you need to understand the essence of what you’re doing.

Speaking about essence, what are the Freediving principles that one should know to learn Freediving? Patrick Musimu: Learn to have patience and be ready to accept one's reflection in the mirror. Free diving is not about how deep you go or how long you hold your breath. According to me, you become a freediver the day you realize you don’t even think that you're holding your breath while moving under water.

As there was no sense of time passing by? Patrick Musimu: it's just that it becomes a natural process in you.

Do you feel there's a limit or what are the limitation factors right now for diving deeper? Patrick Musimu: In every step men's take, there is a limit. And ever limit he faces, he'll try to overcome it. Any diving species dive up to a certain depth. Probably the crucial step for mankind will be where his nervous system will suffer from permanent anoxia.

At what depth could that happen and what measures do you take to avoid that risk? Patrick Musimu: No one could predict this depth. According to scientists and free diving experts my dive in 2005 was predicted impossible and my trachea should have imploded at 180m. I believe I'll be wise enough to listen to what my body tells me before that point.

In your upcoming book, you say in your autobiography that "We are all meant to die one day. We are born to better die". Can you speak more about this book and when it will be available? Patrick Musimu: The book adventure began in August 2005 when I started describing on paper what I lived, touched and felt during my -209m dive. From there, I needed to understand for myself why I ended up challenging the world, science and systems by diving to such a depth. Going through my life and what I've been through since the age of 10, I lay an eye on the systems which rules our lives and compose our today's civilization. Lot will be revealed in this book. It will first come out in Italy this year. The editing house will translate it in Italian.

You are now involved on another project the “No Limit Triple Quest”, can you tell us more about it? What is your motivation? Patrick Musimu: NL TQ is about exploring the 3 different forms of no limit. Each quest has its own motivation. I guess the Traditional is explained on my blog. Tandem was about sharing the feeling and emotions with a partner. Absolute no limit is about reconnecting with myself. But the most ambitious objective about this Triple Quest is to accept to communicate about it. Explain the ups and downs and not present myself as a mutant capable of incredible deeds.

Is there any message you would like to leave for those who share this common connection with the ocean? Patrick Musimu: So many people do not have the chance to share this connection. As a duty towards human kind, sharing your privilege is the least you can do for those who are in search for inspiration in their life...

Wednesday, January 12

The Air Cavity Flooding

Throughout the centuries, people have used different techniques to dive deeper and longer. Whereas our ancestors used their lungs to explore the underwater treasures, using air filled bladder from animals and other artifacts announced the venue of our modern scuba tanks.

Submit to laws of physics, a body immersed has to cope with the increasing ambient pressure (+1 kg/cm2 every 10 meters). At great depth, it is impossible to counter the pressure on the air cavities by using air from collapsed lungs.

Through the years, breath-hold divers improved their body control (eg. diaphragm, lung packing), fine tuned their equalization techniques (Vasalva, Frenzel, ...), and learned to manage and to store air outside their lungs (eg. stomach, mouth). But counting on an air volume doomed to disappear (no matter what artifact used), unless you go for the foolish idea of bursting you eardrums, depth can only be stretched up to a certain extent = limit.

The ACF, a water- instead of air- based technique, is the outcome of a reflexion on the human being lifting, once and for all, the human barrier (when it comes to pressure constraints on the air cavities, of course). Don't worry, I still have tons of other things to solve/understand to sustain my progression. The principle: liquid are incompressible, meaning that if my ears and sinuses are filled with liquid (water) they will not be submitted to pressure any more. Simple, right?

Here is an excerpt from the article published by Dr Peter Germonprez, Constantino Balestra (and myself), in the British Journal Sports Med., in Oct 2010:

Passive Flooding of paranasal sinuses and middle ears as a method of equalization in extreme breath-hold diving:

'....Our subject is a 36-year-old physical therapist, who started breath-hold diving (BHD) at the age of 28. During the first 3 years, he used the conventional BHD techniques of equalising rigid air spaces by repeated Valsalva manoeuvres. Then, finding that these techniques were possibly traumatic and required active muscle contraction, he started training in passive equalisation techniques. This involves keeping the nostrils open during the descent, and allowing water to passively enter the nasal cavity into the maxillary sinus ostia and Eustachian tubes as the air volume decreases with depth.

Over the years, he perfected this technique, and now it has become a quite natural BHD behaviour for him, inasmuch as he finds difficult to switch back to the conventional techniques.

Using this technique, he attained in June 2005, in the course of a few days with increasingly deep BH dives, a new record depth of 209m, 38 m deeper than the previous record. Using MRI, we obtained images of his sinuses and middle ear cavities before (figure 1,2) and after (figures 3,4) instilling water through the nostrils.

To do this, he simply used tap water, from a plastic bottle, poured sequentially into each nostril. By rotating the head in various positions, our subject was able to fill most of his sinuses and middle ears with water, without any noticeable reflex reactions (sneezing, coughing), pain or discomfort.

On the MRI images, water can be clearly seen, not only in the maxillary, ethmoid and sphenoid sinuses, but also in the middle-ear cavity and in the mastoid recess. After the imaging, only part of the water was passively evacuated by raising the head in an upright position, the rest was evacuated progressively over the next few hours...'

It goes without saying: DON'T TRY THIS at home! FYI, the article also outlined the potential risks of such technique applied to human.

Tuesday, January 4

Mother nature

November training confirmed the evolution in my technique as I no longer need to fill my lungs to reach extreme depth. Technique that I've been trying to fine-tune for 6 months. It hasn't been easy. Lots of trial and errors invited me to reconsider this option and almost had me giving up. I'm sure you all now too well the feeling of frustration when experiencing new challenges...
The idea is to copycat certain species of seals, which barely fill their lungs before diving to extreme depth. About it, different theories exist: for buoyancy purposes? to reduce nitrogen intake and decrease risks of decompression accidents?...Once again, mother nature is here to lead me in my progression.
'Innovation is often a transfer of one principle to another field of application.'

My partner SECTOR and I are planning the Absolute No Limit world record attempt in 2011. Two training sessions have been planned before the mammoth jump below the 200m. For the first session (Jan. 10th-24th), I will join Mr Alaa El Din and his team in Hurghada, and train to 140m.

Saturday, January 1

76m of pure friendship

In 1999, around a perfect family diner table, Jean François, an old (are we?) friend from Kinshasa and I decided to celebrate our 40th birthday with a unique experience: to share the pleasure of a deep tandem.
Back then, J-F could barely hold his breath, let alone, dive on a single breath of air. But, adept of extreme endeavors he understood that depth progression was above all a repositioning of him Self.
We started training, discussing, practicing together, and in November 2010 (his 3rd diving session) our dream came through with a 76m dive of friendship. Magical, indescribable moments.
J-F progression supports my idea that free diving is a state of mind; that depth is not solely a matter of competition restricted to elite divers. Understanding, respecting and listening to one's inner body and soul is the key.

Traditional record: the origin

First announced through the documentary "Waving At My Ancestors" (Peter De Mulder) than foreseen on September 2010, the project has been postponed but the quest remains anchored deep in my heart.

Origin of the Traditional Quest: I discovered Egypt and his traditions through Mr. Alaa El Din, in 2002. In 2004, preparing "The Ultimate Dive", my trips to Egypt became frequent. During one of these trips, Alaa asked a holly man to bless me (we all knew the risks my project involved). The gesture touched me, and I can still hear the litany of the words.

'Al Hamdulillah!' 'Allah!', words pronounced by Alaa and his sailors accompanied each of my dives while I was diving deeper and deeper in the unknown.

In November 2007, 2 years after 'The Ultimate Dive' I started diving again. And during the filming of a commercial in Indonesia, felt the solemn call of the sea and the urge to communicate with the silent of depths again. Two months later I returned to see Mr. Alaa El Din, in Egypt who brought me back to the dive site, which has become sacred to me: Abu Ramada.

Without my sled, I tied a weight belt to a rope, got rid of mask and fins, and dropped to 40m holding the weights with my hand.

Back on the boat, Alaa explained me the culture of the pearl divers of the Middle East who used to hold the weight with their bare feet. Within no time I was back into the water to try and ended up practicing on 30, 70 and finally 100metres.

Emotions are complex to explain. If in modern No Limit, the stretched rope shows me the way, it felt here like getting deeper into virgin territories. No sound of sled gliding along the rope. A single contact: a rope, like an umbilical cord. The project « Renewing with Traditions" was born.

I read up about pearl divers. Discovered the traditions, found out about the songs on board, heard the drums on ancient videos. With African roots, I was conquered.

More research made me realize that unlike what I had done during my 100m experience, where I pulled myself back to the surface, ancient pearl divers of the Persian Gulf, were hauled back to the surface by the crew. I returned to Egypt to try.

The magic was there. In the communion of the diver with the team ; in the blind faith and the spiritual bond that eventually united us ; in the synchronization of efforts. Unlike modern No Limit, the ascent is here also an initiation, rich in information. I could feel the energy of my team on each pull. The team literally held my life in their hands. The Traditional No Limit record is born out of these emotions... See you down there, soon!

121m Tandem World Record

We did it! Symbol of adventurous and winning team spirit, this record in tandem fulfilled his mission.
In May 2010 Karol Meyer and I, supported by a whole team, joined our effort to share with you the story of this project. (retrospective on Fcbk: Patrick Musimu-Official)
The association and coordination of human abilities induced emotional and enriching challenges. Living the experience I came to understand how difficult it must have been for our predecessors, Pipin Ferreras and Audrey Mestre, to set the first world record (115m) years ago. Big respect!
As a consequence of our record dive, I am happy to see today a growing interest among the sport divers for this form of diving. Underwater pleasure, more than ever, becomes a team adventure.

Partners: Sector Watches, Mormaii, Buddy Dive Resort, Bonaire Tourism, Insel Air, Avianca, Brasil Merghulo, It Rains Fishes restaurant, Ivresse, Amercian Gym, Sabma
Media: US History Channel, SKY Sport TV, TV Globo, TV2 Bonaire, DecoStop magazine