We are born to hold our breath naturally. We are like whales and seals and sea mammals. If you take a child and put it in the sea, they will hold their breath without thinking, just by the curiosity to be underwater. This is the most incredible thing. In land, I have always the gravity. I can feel my body. I feel the pressure. But in water I’m weightless. It’s this feeling of being high but from something natural, that you have done. When I discovered freediving, I was in love. Completely in love. I couldn’t imagine people who can live without freediving. So it’s like when you are in love, you cannot think of living without this person, no? As a child I never thought that this was a sport itself. I was with people that like to go deep like me. I start to train and after two years I decide to dedicate my life to freediving. Being free, I think is the main passion I have for freediving. You can release all your tensions. Your body disappears completely. I just sink. Every dive is different. You learn from the dive and from yourself. Bruce Lee, he said: “Be water my friend." If we don’t become water, we crash. If you are relaxed completely, muscles are not distressed, and then your lungs get compressed properly and we adapt. But if you are fighting against this, then you break. The most recent time I blacked out was last year, and it was a world of pretences a lot of pressure on. Mentally you have to be able to control your emotions. We are emotional animals and our heart rate goes up if we have fear and we have adrenaline, so we have to control all this. And that was harder for me. I was away and my wife was pregnant and... but who knows the small chances that anything can happen. It was one month before she was born. In my mind I was like, “Okay, at least I want to meet her.” I went down 225 meters, and I reached the bottom... but I didn’t reach the surface on the way back. It was a deep blackout. For us it's not very common. When the brain feels that it has not enough oxygen, it shuts you down, so you don’t have motor control, you cannot waste the oxygen that you have left. So I blacked out and they bring me up. I live from this so I have to train and be better always. With the technique and the training, we are able to overcome all this. Miguel is one of the best divers in the world, and we have studied all kinds of factors that predict freediving performance, to know what it takes to be the best. Researchers like Erica is very very important, because we need knowledge. Breathing techniques, relaxation techniques, to be able to be, not just more efficient, but to understand which is the best way to train, to adapt, and to be safer. I just empty them until everything is out. We can do simulated diving in the laboratory because we really want to know what happens in these extreme dives like Miguel is doing. In freediving you are very very dependent on your lung function. You have to prepare by breathing in the right way so that you store the maximum amount of oxygen that you can in your body. So you need to have a good breathing capacity and you also have to have large lungs that you can fill up before you dive. When you dive deeper and deeper your lungs shrink and they will eventually hit the lowest volume they can tolerate. So if you have flexible, compliant lung you can dive deeper. Very good. So your lung volume is about 125% of that of a normal guy your size. Even more remarkable is his very strong diving response. The diving response is something that is found in seals and whales but humans also have it. It restricts the blood flow and the oxygen to the most sensitive organs - the brain and the heart. The rest of your body has to do with a little bit less oxygen, so that you use much less when you dive. Just breathing, it changed completely my life and I think it is vital to perform better, no? And to live better. I like to teach beginners because I love the way they react. To feel yourself as a freediver, there is not a minimal requirement. If you like to be in the water and dive 1m, 10m, 100m, you’re a free diver. They discover they do something that they would never think they could do, like hold their breath for three, four, five minutes. People many times tell me: “It’s the most incredible thing I have done in my life.” We normally freefall with eyes closed. We are just in this kind of dreamy situation where the sense of view is not important anymore. I like this changing of the colours and the slow change of the light. With the closed eyes I can feel it. The world disappears. You are so focussed on the movement, on the technique, on your lungs, it's just you holding your breath. It's something very powerful.

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The Freediver Pushing His Lungs to the Limit

This is a sample from our ‘Quit Cigarettes’ mission, which is currently live in the UK. Our goal is to increase the amount of people in the UK who quit cigarettes. Read more about our first mission here.

Free from the pollution caused by cigarettes, what are our lungs truly capable of? Watch as one of the world's greatest freedivers pushes the limits to discover how far - or deep - the body can really go.