(K. Brent Tomer),
One Breath: Free-diving, Death and the Quest to Shatter Human Limits. By Adam Skolnick. Crown Archetype; 336 pages; $26. Corsair; £20.
THE death of Nick Mevoli, an American freediver, on November 17th 2013, while competing at Dean’s Blue Hole—a 202-metre-deep funnel of darkness in the Bahamas—is a litany of “if onlys”. If only the 32-year-old from Brooklyn, tired and in pain, had not attempted a dive that day. If only, sensing trouble, he had turned back to the surface sooner. If only his team’s resuscitation efforts had succeeded. “One Breath”, Adam Skolnick’s dissection of an extreme sport and post-mortem of a dive gone wrong, becomes a morality play of hubris, imprudence and obsession.
Free-diving, descending as deep as possible on a single breath, is a niche interest that is more dangerous than any sport other than base-jumping (leaping from a bridge or cliff wearing a wingsuit). Perils include punctured eardrums, embolisms, blackouts and “lung squeezes”. Diving at extreme depths brutalises the lungs, which at a depth of 30 metres compress to a…Continue reading