Adam Skolnick explores the depths of the freediving community in his latest book, One Breath.
The quest to stretch our limits can have miraculous or tragic results. In 2013, Adam Skolnick covered the freediving competition Vertical Blue in the Bahamas for the New York Times. American Nicholas Mevoli was a rapidly rising (or more appropriately—rapidly diving) talent with a penchant for pushing boundaries. An adventurer, a community-minded compassionate soul, and an extreme athlete, Mevoli strove to set records. Yet in the midst of the competition, even though he surfaced under his own power, he did not survive, the result of an accumulation of lung tissue injuries.
Freediving is practiced across cultures. Divers hold their breath and dive in order to chase fish, seek pearls, immerse in natural underwater wonders, experience thrills or test the limits of human physiology. It became a competitive sport in 1949, the result of a bet among divers in Italy; formal organizations and competitions for these biohackers followed.
In the words of champion Carlos Coste, whom Skolnick quotes, freediving is “…a philosophy of life around the sea. It’s exploring your limits, your abilities, and improving yourself all the time.” These divers are dedicated and extreme yogis, practitioners who source training techniques for breath extension and to increase their capacity to withstand the discomfort of the ocean depths.
In One Breath, Skolnick (one of LA YOGA’s first contributors) writes with compassion and insight, offering a glimpse beneath the surface in this powerful page-turner.