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September 2019    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 45, No. 9   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Donít Free-Dive During the Surface Interval

from the September, 2019 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

We've all done it. During a dive trip, those longer surface intervals can be boring unless you're in good company or have an interesting book to read -- and the water looks so inviting. So we fill in the time doing a bit of snorkeling. We shouldn't. Well, we certainly shouldn't do any breath-hold diving. Evidently, the constant pressure changes on the body, already loaded with nitrogen from scuba, can cause decompression sickness. On repeated ascent during free-diving, asymptomatic micro-bubbles already present can coalesce to form larger ones.

The teenage son of Princess Diana's lady-in-waiting, Henry Byatt, 19, died while breath-holding underwater at Zakynthos, Greece.

The Coroner at Court in Westminster said the teenager had been very unwise to undertake a free-dive back in August 2017, while on a break from work as a diving instructor. It was judged to have been a voluntary act on his part.

In Egypt's Red Sea, both passengers and crew are banned from free-diving between scuba dives, because there were so many instances of people suffering DCS after doing that earlier in this century.

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