A freediver died just seconds after surfacing above water again while trying to set a new record.
Nicholas Mevoli had dedicated himself to freediving, entering competitions around the world in which he dived to great depths without any additional air and often without flippers to help him descend.
However, the extreme sport that he loved would eventually lead to his tragic death as he attempted to break an American record by diving into the depths.
Born in Florida, Mevoli worked in television while keeping his freediving as a hobby.
He’d started competing in 2012, winning medals in several events and becoming the first American to dive down to 100 metres with just one breath.
However, in a competition organised by company Vertical Blue in the Bahamas, at the famous Dean’s Blue Hole, which has a depth of 202 metres, he met his end.
When freediving, the heart rate of a diver becomes slower and the lungs become compressed under pressure, as well as blood vessels shrinking.
The 32-year-old wanted to reach 72 metres with just one breath and no fins, but after he surfaced and gave everyone the ‘OK’ sign, he then lost consciousness and fell backwards and died.
The nine-day competition was cancelled as a mark of respect.
Nick’s close friend Grant Graves told CNN: “You don’t meet many people like Nick.
“He was the best diver in the U.S. - the best.
“He was one of a kind.
“I’d known him for two years and judged him too - and he was the best.”
Graves said that Mevoli’s death was the first to occur in freediving competition for 21 years.
In a statement, the competition organisers said: “We are very sad to report that earlier today Nicholas Mevoli (USA) tragically lost his life after a CNF dive to 72m.
“He was conscious when he surfaced but then blacked-out more than 30 seconds later. Emergency procedures were followed and despite receiving immediate medical attention, he failed to regain consciousness.
“At the moment we are all extremely shocked and saddened and trying to establish what happened. His family has been informed and all our thoughts and prayers are with them.
“Competition freediving has an enviable safety record but the sport can never be risk-free, something understood by all freedivers.
“We will give more details as soon as they emerge.”
Afterwards, freediving’s governing body AIDA - Association Internationale pour le Développement de l'Apnée - published a report that found that Mevoli had died because of a ‘pulmonary hemorrhage due to barotrauma’.
Barotrauma is caused when a pressure difference between an unvented space in the body and the gas or fluid - in this case water - that surrounds it cause physical tissue damage.
In this case, to Mevoli’s lungs.
After his death, a big celebration of Mevoli’s life was held and he was honoured by the competition organisers.
Another friend, photographer Lia Barnett, said: “He was just an all round good guy.
“He was very altruistic. He cared about others a great deal and did a lot of volunteering and was much loved by everybody.”
If nothing else, he went out doing what he loved.Featured Image Credit: YouTube/Carlos Correa