On Sunday 19th November 2017, Lidija Lijic and Vitomir Maricic successfully completed their freedive in the Himalayas, setting a new world record for diving with breath at height!
We have been following the adventure and exhibition of Lidija Lijić and Vitomir Maričić for the last few weeks, as they set off to the Himalayas to set a new world record for diving at height; the first step was acclimatisation, then, yesterday – 19th November 2017, they successfully set new world records for diving at height with breath!
The Himalayan expedition 2017 returned to Manang after spending two days in a row climbing to the ‘1000 metres tall lakes’ as the local population of Manang call it. Lidija Lijić, world and European champion and Vitomir Maričić, Croatian extreme athlete, both from the Croatian diving team achieved a record dive at 4720 m. Lijić achieved the first result for women with a time of 2:21, while Maričić dived to 3:28 minutes for men, which is 1:28 minutes longer than the previous record at a similar height also made in the Himalayas.
“I was somewhat sceptical of how we would do everything because of the low temperatures and winds, but when the action started, I was just focused on making everything happen. I was surprised how easy it was to keep the breath at that height, probably because of the good acclimatization we have been doing for the past 10 days, but some studies in which I’ve been involved earlier also support this, so this actually backs up the theories in practice. Everything worked extremely fast and chaotic, but in the end, it all came together as we planned. I’m convinced that in better conditions the result could be drastically better,” said Lidija Lijić.
Access to the lake consists of some 6 hours of walking up to 4700 meters, and since the five-member Croatian team does not use carriers, the equipment available on the lake was quite limited. Due to no shelter and extreme temperatures, it was impossible to set up a camp on the lake, which further complicated the entire dive organization.
“It was a bit of an ask to dive after an exhausting uphill climb and difficult weather, but in cooperation with our team, we concluded that this approach was still the safest. We dropped at the last hour of Tilicho’s first planned lake, which is as many as 200-300 meters. when we arrived at Manang, the terrain was broken, and a 12-hour ride turned into a 30-hour journey. This lake had a somewhat more intense approach but made it possible for a quicker evacuation, so we organized everything so that we could do it in one day.”
Outside the water, in the negative temperature it is extremely dangerous to be exposed to wind, but in the water, I was pleasantly surprised that the water was not that cold, although the water temperature was some 2 degrees and the lake had a thin ice cover. The Subcraft Croat Suits we used earlier for diving underneath proved to be more than sufficient. The whole team worked great, helped us dry and warm up, and without that support, it would be impossible to try anything like this,” Vitomir Maričić said.
At these altitudes where the percentage of oxygen in the air is almost 11%, it is difficult to restore low body saturation, especially with the expected extreme drops occurring during apnea. That is exactly what hypothermia caused the breaks of earlier attempts of similar records. Due to the diver’s safety, lack of equipment and questionable evacuation options from the lake, our divers have been in a pre-set time of up to 3:00 minutes, in cooperation with Dr Victor Ivaniš, or a member of the expedition, instead of trying the maximum apnea.
“This was certainly a field challenge where we did not know what to expect because it is an unusual situation. In some earlier attempts, there have been critical drops of oxygen saturation, which we certainly wanted to avoid because all interventions at these heights are limited. However, in the end, it turned out that our divers were well prepared, as seen in the tests we conducted on a daily basis, and every 1000 meters uphill. This is a summing up of the great physical and mental excitement of both divers, as well as the specific preparations for this kind of enterprise and the quick adaptation due to multiple earlier stays at extreme heights. During the climb, various vital parameters such as oxygen saturation, sleep pulse, arterial blood pressure, maximum peak expiratory volume, and AMS score scale were monitored for the purpose of observing individual and collective acclimatization of expedition members.
Looking at the broader picture this project is exceptionally interesting from the point of view of the experimental aspect of the research, and we will be able to analyse the data on its return to Croatia. Some values were totally unexpected. We expected a significant decrease in oxygen saturation value just after apnea that did not occur, which was described in earlier attempts. Which is yet more proof that our diving teams are at the top level.” – Viktor Ivaniš, expedition physician.
Some foreign media, including the Discovery Channel, have been interested in this project, and the planned documentary may be expanded. In any case, it seems that the wealthy material that Sodić and Maričić, who is in charge of documenting, will be paid for during the Himalayan stay.
“Certainly, there was a plan to agree a cross-section of experience in this unusual and interesting region, and the interest in the materials being taken over by an eminent television house further motivated us. Believe that, at this height and in the cold, every additional motivation is good. Apart from the project itself, this was a rare opportunity to experience and record the everyday lives of people who live in these areas, which in fact were only accessible to visitors in the eighties, so besides the unexplored nature there is preserved an ancient tradition and customs that, of course, increasingly intertwined with the West thanks to the Internet and tourism. – Vladimir Šoić.
An incredible achievement and memories that will stay with this team forever. I’ll finish with Lidija’s words on her personal account:
“So, we did it!! Static at 4720 m. Was it hard? I guess the beauty of the Himalayas made me forget about the fatigue, cold, dusty feet and hard, lack of air… and just let me breathless for 2 and a half minutes. Vitomir: 3:28. Thanks to our team: Vladimir Soic, Viktor Ivanis, Marino Petretic for taking great care of us. Our sponsors Oris watches, Subcraft Mobis, Evolveo, Lodoli, Thalassteraphia Opatija… for making it possible, until next time… Namaste.”
If you are interested in more from Lijić and Maričić or learning how to freedive in Croatia, visit their official page here.
All photos from Facebook, excerpts translated from NoviList.Hr