A new concept which is increasingly being used nowadays when talking about sporting achievements in freediving or apnea has its roots in ancient history and is today one of the so-called extreme sports.

I am talking about a sports activity that combines experiencing the beauty of the underwater world with experiencing oneself. With the development of organizations such as AIDA, CMAS and Apnea Academy, organised trainings of freedivers began in the late 1990’s.

I can say that a new era has now begun, bringing with it all the more amazing performances of the underwater athletes.

A few years ago we could only dream of today’s achievements. It was something unattainable for  human kind.

Therefore, as a joke, the expression ‘homo sapiens aquaticus’ is being used, since only representatives of this “new human species” are considered to be capable of such achievements.

Today’s best competitors reach a depth of 120 m, 250 m in length and almost 11 minutes of static apnea, in the discipline No Limits or even 214 m depth.


Famous freediving names are: Umberto Pelizzari, Jaques Mayol, Tanya Streeter, Natalia Molchanova, Tom Sietas, Patrick Musimu, Loic Leferme, Herbert Nitsch and others…

I too competed in this (for the majority)  new sport that is evolving rapidly in the world. New participants regularly come into this world from entirely different sports, often as already established world-class athletes.

Some are already accustomed to the noise and glory which resounds around champions. Nevertheless, they are overwhelmed by the call of silence coming from the depths of the sea and they replace their own sport with the competitive apnea.

Clearly (more than 20 years after the cult film Big Blue) even the development of equipment has contributed enormously so that competition in freediving has become a pleasure.

Of course an apnea competitor, along with good equipment, needs some inborn “gifts” such as: complete ease under the water, aquatics, an ability to concentrate and a sense for “listening” to one’s organs. Most of these characteristics can be significantly improved with  training.


My ease under the water was spotted very early on. Already at the age of 4, before even knowing how to swim, I enjoyed staying about a meter or two under the water.  Maybe my zodiacal sign has some contribution to how I feel under the water. Namely, I was born under the sign of Aquarius.

If this influenced my  quite peaceful character and (often criticized) individualism, I do not know. However, the fact is that these characteristics go well with the competitive apnea, since it’s a sport in which you compete primarily with yourself, only far in thesecond place are competitors; opponents in sportive terms do not exist.

Very noticeable is the difference between recreational freediving (where the length of the apnea is limited to the physical ability of our body) and the competitive apnea (where achievements are largely dependent on the trained mental capability of monitoring our body’s functions).

The meditative relaxation techniques and breathing techniques pranajama are used to allow the competitor good control over the body and consciousness.

When a competitor learns how to control his own consciousness, how to reach the level of state of consciousness and how to relax the body, the competitor can then affect his own breathing, control it and with it, influence the heartbeat, upon which the length of our apnea largely depends.


Homo sapiens aquaticus, therefore, does not have bigger lungs than the rest of the people, but has only learned how to use the knowledge with which to guide the thoughts, emotions and intellect, which the body follows. In apnea, therefore, everything is happening in our head, not in our lungs.