How Long Can Free Divers Hold Their Breath for?

July 30, 2022 4 min read

How long can free divers hold their breath? The question has been a recurrent topic of discussion among freedivers. The length of time a diver can hold their breath is influenced by many factors. Some of these factors are genetic, such as the lungs of elite freedivers, the body's spleen, and the techniques used by freedivers. In addition, the volume of one's lung and the blood shift of the lungs also play a role.


The benefits of deep inspiration breath hold (DIBH) over other methods are both anatomic and dosimetric. In the diagram below, the red line indicates the tangential radiation field for whole breast radiotherapy. The respiratory tracings and RPM traces clearly show chest excursion during free breathing and the DIBH breath hold. Both techniques help avoid the risks associated with shortness of breath. The advantages of DIBH over free breathing are summarized in Table I.

While most people can hold their breath for about 30 seconds, others are capable of doing it for 2 minutes or longer. While these feats do not provide much in the way of everyday use, they can be life-saving in certain circumstances. For example, in the event of a serious emergency, the ability to hold one's breath for long periods can save a diver's life. World record holders in this area include Harry Houdini, a stunt performer and illusionist, who once managed to hold his breath for three minutes. With some training, you can train yourself to hold your breath for even longer periods.

Record Attempts

Among the competitive disciplines of freediving is static apnea, or holding breath without movement at the surface. The lack of movement in this sport slows the consumption of oxygen, and is a scientific fact, as it explains how the human body is designed to survive under water. Despite its seemingly impossible nature, holding breath for a long period of time is possible, and is often used to improve fitness and endurance.

Elite free divers have developed techniques to improve their breathing reflex, which is the body's attempt to conserve oxygen in cold water. This reflex is thought to have evolved in mammals, which triggers a series of physiological responses, including a slower heartbeat and a reduced metabolic rate. The reflex conserves oxygen by diverizing blood to the lungs and vital organs. Although free divers can hold their breath for longer periods than non-experts, the current record holder is Stephane Mifsud, who spent 11 minutes, 35 seconds under water in 2009.

Blood Shift in Experienced Freedivers

Freedivers experience blood shift during the final stage of a dive. It occurs when the body's volume of blood decreases due to increased water pressure. The blood vessels in the alveoli then expand to compensate. In fact, if the Freediver were to ascend immediately after descending, the result would be lung barotrauma. In this article, we will explain how the blood shift occurs and what the possible side effects are.

The spleen is an important organ for experienced freedivers. It has a secondary function, acting as a reservoir of blood and releasing it into the circulatory system. The additional volume of blood helps to increase the amount of oxygen in the system and support the organs. The spleen's effect may increase the amount of breath-holds a freediver can sustain. It can increase the time a diver remains at depth.

Limits of Lung Volume

The limits of lung volume for free divers are based on the Boyle's law of respiration. According to this law, a diver's lungs will be able to hold a maximum of 7 liters at 100 feet below the surface. However, some free divers may be able to store more air than that. This is known as residual volume (RV).

The lungs' volume and mass conservation are the key factors in determining breathing efficiency. As a general rule, an athlete's lung volume and metabolic rate are related to their total body weight. However, the upper class has a higher lung volume, typically 5.5 to 6.5 liters, while the World Freediving Champion Pipin has a maximum lung capacity of eight liters. To improve freediving performance, the limits of lung volume must be kept in mind and proper training must be undertaken to maintain optimal health and performance.


The average human is able to hold their breath for around 30 seconds. But the world record is ten minutes. It took women more than five years to reach that mark. And women who are trained in this sport can hold their breath for much longer than men. But even then, free divers must be careful not to deprive their brain of oxygen. This can cause serious brain damage and even death. Therefore, training is crucial in order to improve breath-holding endurance.

The average breath-holding time of a free diver varies from person to person, but elite free divers can hold their breath for several minutes more than an average person. However, it is important to note that these elite free divers have larger lung volumes than the average human. Their spleens are also larger, allowing them to breathe underwater for longer periods of time. In fact, Dr. Bain has spent several years studying the physiology of extreme breath-holding.

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