Yasemin’s record attempt series ends with a dive to 106m


8-time freediving world champion Yasemin Dalkilic, who was in Kas, Antalya preparing for a world record attempt to 125 meters in the Limited Variable Ballast category, has canceled her official record date of May 2nd. After a 6 year absence from freediving, Yasemin had come back with the help of the main sponsor Turkcell, host location Kas, Hera Hotel, Linde Gases and Aquaclub Dive School. Everything was going as planned for Dalkilic who quickly had progressed through training dives to 80, 90 and 101 meters and then on April 22nd proceeded to set a new world record to 106 meters in a dive time 2:45 minutes. This dive improved on the F.R.E.E. existing record of 105 meters, also set by Dalkilic in 2001.
She was then ready to attempt her ultimate goal of 125 meters in this category on April 26th. On that dive Yasemin completed her descent to the bottom without much problems except for some severe vertigo that began around 90 meters. Feeling still strong and in control she arrived at the bottom and started her ascent. At around 70 meters she started experiencing disorientation and started to separate from the dive line. Once the separation became 5 meters the 2 safety divers positioned at 50 meters immediately went to her and signaled her in an effort to help her regain the line. Yasemin continued to suffer from disorientation and suddenly lost consciousness at around 40 meters. She was immediately grabbed by the safety divers who activated a standard F.R.E.E. rescue device attaching a liftbag to a harness worn by Yasemin and sending her to the surface. At the surface, the surface team began revival procedures right away. Yasemin was suffering from airway blockage which made the revival more difficult and time consuming than usual, but she recovered eventually and together with a team of paramedics was taken to shore on a speed boat and from there to Antalya hospital by helicopter. She remained in the hospital for a way undergoing several tests which pointed to the cause of her rare problem. Based on the doctors’ findings and the observations of her team and Dalkilic herself of her previous dives it was decided that the problem started at the mucosa area around her frontal sinuses. Due to a virus Yasemin had suffered from months ago, that area was still inflamated and fragile. On that dive bleeding occurred in that area during the dive causing some of the blood to be sent to the inner ear during equalization on the descent, and causing the vertigo. The bleeding continued into the lungs which reacted by swelling up upon ascent. This created a pressure differential between lungs and airways which resulted in a drop in blood pressure that caused Yasemin to loose consciousness. The reaction of her lungs to the bleeding created the blockage that complicated the revival on the surface. This rare, but totally possible complication proves that freedivers need to be prepared for more than just shallow water blackouts and have a safety/rescue system in place that allows for quick extractions from deep water as well as shallow. More about this safety system and Yasemin’s impressions will be shared at her website.

59 Responses to “Yasemin’s record attempt series ends with a dive to 106m”

  1. Ivo Truxa says:

    Sorry to hear about the troubles, and wishing speedy and full recovery!

  2. Glenn Venghaus says:

    Sorry to hear about this and and my best wishes and hopes for a speedy recovery.

    But as a side note. One question popped into my head a millisecond after i read this line :

    “Once the separation became 5 meters the 2 safety divers positioned at 50 meters immediately went to her and signaled her in an effort to help her regain the line.

    There have been several discussions about your guys extreme safety measure compared to AIDA, but how is it then possible that Yasemin could stray for 5 meters from the line ?????????????????????????????
    In any other system I am aware of both in training but compulsary in competition the freediver has to use a lanyard that connects him/her to the main line and prevents exactly this what happend to Yasemin (the lanyard is max 1-1.5 meters long.
    Also this makes it easy for for instance a scuba safety diver from any depth lower then the freediver in problem to atach a liftbad to the main line , which will then on ascend grab onto the safety lanyard and drag the freediver to the surface.

    In Yasemins case if she would have strayed out of the reach of the safety scuba, she would have been lost…….

    Can you please enlighten us (or maybe i misinterpreted this statement) ??????????????
    I am surpriced…..

  3. J says:

    Very sorry to hear about Yasemins accident. Glad that she is ok now!

    I hope that this dont get into a matter of again comparing AIDA and FREE procedures, but instead let´s focus us on learning from this and taking the apropriate measures to make deep diving a little safer again regardless of institution.

  4. Glenn Venghaus says:

    Could not agree more. Safety should not be limited by organisational rules or politics so lets definately not go in there. I just hope that this accident Improves the no doubt already rigid rules of FREE. But it just hurts me to see great freedivers dying (or thank god not in this case) because of obvious mistakes in the safety protocols that could have been prevented. Talking about great safety standards is not the same as actually enforcing them. So I hope I am wrong and just wrongly interpreted the description of the accident, which btw seems to have been deald with in a very professional way. Yasemin owes some drinks to the safety scuba staff when she gets better.

    So again , WHY was she not attached to the main line with a lanyard or similar system preventing her from swimming/drifting away from the line ?

  5. Diego says:

    Auguri di un pronta guarigione!!!

  6. Eric Fattah says:

    I am so glad she is okay. It strikes me actually that the FREE safety system is far better than the AIDA one, since the many scuba divers can immediately react. If Yasemin had been using the traditional AIDA blind counterballast system with sonar, activating the counterballast when she was at 40m, the bottom plate would have to come up from 125m to 40m, then drag her up, and it may have been too late.

    I congratulate the F.R.E.E. officials for such a successful and historic rescue.

  7. Glenn Venghaus says:

    Again lets not compare AIDA and FREE. But why not use scuba PLUS a simple lanyard. The fact that it went great now is fine and applause to the scuba, but what if she swam out of reach of the scuba, which is still a problem if she has no lanyard, no matter how many scuba you use. So simple and so much extra safety. I just do not get it.
    It is not that unlikely or farfetched for a completely narked diver to swim away from the line ?

    The reason why we even discuss this is to make it as safe as possible. I do not give a damn about which system. I just want these types of dives to be as safe as possible . I can see a point for scuba , but miss the reasoning (or at least have not heared it) why not to add a simple cheap lanyard in the mix. This way even if the scuba is out of reach of the diver, they can still resque the diver using a liftbag attached to the main line. Without a line , just a little visibility problem and a problem in between 2 scuba divers and you loose a freediver.

  8. Rudi Castineyra says:

    Quick answers,

    First, no, we ourselves will not let this turn into a FREE-AIDA thing, because, quite simply, it is unimportant right now. Yasemin is alive and that’s all that matters. And honestly, she could have died, I’m not saying this to sound ominous but this was the one time where at some point I started loosing hope during our resuscitation efforts since she took so long to come back. And our system saved her life, WITHOUT A DOUBT. Why?

    First and foremost, whatever the system, it is not enough to think that the system works and talk a bout it and be convinced about it, you MUST put the system to the test, and do it several times, so that through practice you learn where the weak points are (every system has weak points) and you fix those errors. Because learning what the weak points are during an actual rescue might be too late. We have a system that works because we have been using it for many years, test it regularly, and every time we work with a new safety team on a different record, we spent long hours teaching the system to the team, training them on it, and then testing the procedures with each and every member repeatedly. And so, when accidents do happen, as it did this time, we were prepared for the events that transpired and dealt with them quickly and effectively. Any other system can be as effective or better than ours, but if it truly has not been put to the test, or if the obvious flaws in the system have been ignored, then the system, although potentially the safest of all, is nothing but an unsafe system. We just followed our own advice and it worked for us.

    Lanyard. We obviously see the validity of keeping the diver attached to the line. However, with our particular set up, using a lanyard was difficult and potentially dangerous. Attaching a lanyard from Yasemin to the line and keeping it clear of the sled is tricky, and although not impossible, it would require a combination of length and stiffness of materials that made Yasemin uncomfortable on her ascent (yes we actually tried it) and presented a risk at the surface. Our sled arm is about 1.8 meters from the boat and Yasemin’s new 7 mm Sheico L-foam neoprene is so buoyant in shallow water that she rockets up fast during the last 15-20 meters. She usually needs to correct her trajectory slightly to make sure she misses the boat, and at such speeds, and with a lanyard limiting her options, we felt the lanyard became more of a problem than a solution at the surface. So, since we have scuba divers every 15 meters who know how to deal with Yasemin if she leaves the line, we chose not to use a lanyard. IT was a conscious decision based on our assessment of the factors present, and it worked for us. Rules don’t always fit all situations, and being able to adjust them if needed is essential. Also, in our case, straying off the line is NOT what caused Yasemin’s deep water BO, this was a result, not a cause, and had she been attached to the line, she would have still had the same problem, although yes, the safety divers would have saved themselves some time and effort when reaching her.

    The FREE harness. I had prepared an article about our harness to be published last Friday, but never had time to post it, which shows the harness we feel is the only safe way to retrieve a diver from depth, whether by scuba divers or counter ballast. We will publish the article soon and you will see the photos and the explanation. This harness GUARANTEES that the freediver comes to the surface with protected airways so that no accidental water aspiration occurs. At the hospital where Yasemin was treated, the doctors made it a point that an essential condition for her recovery was the fact that very little water had penetrated the airways, otherwise, this could have added complications that could have been fatal from such a depth. I’ve said it many times and I will repeat it once more, a wrist or waist lanyard do NOTHING to prevent water penetration in the airways, on the contrary, it is my opinion that they increase this chance. This harness saved Yasemin’s life, and although it felt somewhat more uncomfortable to wear than a lanyard, she was willing to undergo the discomfort and learned to adapt to it (all great athletes adapt to whatever comes their way) and we never went for the easier option of wrist or waist attachment since we knew it was not safe in our view.

    Deep water complications add complexity exponentially to a rescue situation. We’re lucky that most problems happen in shallow water, and like that, when the freediver is usually pulled to the surface by a safety freediver, any system works. But in this case, like Eric said, if we had had to wait for a counter ballast to be deployed, and had Yasemin sunk down the line all the way to bottom plate, she would have definitely not survived. We were able to get her out of the water at around 4 minutes, but with a counter ballast, I feel this time would have increased to 6-7 minutes or more. Now, don’t dismiss deep water occurrences (DWO) as a freak thing, they do happen, and can happen to anybody. In Yasemin’s case, the deeper she ever blacked lout before was 3 meters from the surface, and she has done more than 100 dives deeper than 90 meters in her life, so she is very accustomed to deep water, and yet here she is now, the lucky survivor of an incident at 50 meters. We need to have systems in place that: 1) activate a rescue immediately after the problem happens,2) that bring the freediver back to the surface immediately,3) that don’t allow the freediver to sink into deeper water and 4) that keep the airways protected at all times. We managed to accomplish all of the above, but be aware that all of you using different systems have been very lucky until now because, to m y knowledge, there have been no cases of DWO recorded at any of those events, but when a case does happen, as it inevitably will, the chances for survival for the victim become very, very, very diminished if all 4 conditions mentioned above are not accomplished.

    Lastly, emergency equipment and personnel MUST be present at the surface AT ALL TIMES whenever deep dives are taking place. I have dealt with more blackouts than I can remember, and I am very skilled in all kind of resuscitation procedures, but had I been alone that day, I could have not save Yasemin because her airway blockage was so severe she had to be intubated, and that requires proper equipment and people. I’ve said many times, oxygen is not a luxury, but a necessity during freediving events, as are face masks, fast boats to shore and/or ambulances ready and paramedics ready to revive victims. You guys (whoever “you guys” are) have gone on a crusade to make freediving cheaper with counter ballast systems that eliminate safety scuba divers altogether, so don’t “save” any more money by eliminating proper emergency measures out of the equation too. You have been very lucky that nothing serious has happened during these events. but the law of probabilities is about to catch up with you, as it did with Audrey Mestre and Loic Leferme.

    Thanks for all the good wishes, Yasemin seems to have made a full recovery and we don’t expect any long term damage, although I’m taking her vitals every 20 seconds and wake up in the middle of the night to make sure she’s breathing :-) That she is OK is all that matters to us right now.

    Rudi Castineyra

  9. Let me say as a bona-fide AIDA man that I don’t give a rat’s ass about the lack of lanyard in this incident. The scuba alternative did the trick on the day. Rudi’s point is that either model has its flaws and I agree. The lanyard strategy adds a vast delay in reponse, while the scuba strategy adds safety risks for the safety divers themselves (as well as super budget, especially in competitions).
    I hope the AIDA technical committee will use this incident to review the current lanyard strategy.
    (It’s impossible not to turn this into a AIDA/FREE thingy, but what the hell…)

  10. evren orhon says:

    We are so happy to have Yasemin alive. Since years I follow all competitions and all record performances, even trainings of professional athletes but never heard an incident like this before. The first thing after reading the details of the incident, I personally felt lucky to be alive. While being recently organized all training system and people here in my town, and being on the road to deeper water than I have ever been, I am sad but at the same time very happy to learn more from this freediving incident that we happily had without any serious injury to the diver. The counter ballast system who starts to be pulled back from surface as soon as the diver reaches bottom plate, following the diver on the way up would be helpful but would not do all, especially in no limit or varibale weight where a sled is used, since the diver would hit to the sled, even many times on the way up. Furthermore, add to the above mentionned categories, this system is even unsafe for constant weight dives. What if this incident happens on the middle way down, on freefall? Can the first signs of the problem like vertigo stop a task oriented freediver? Most probably no. (On this point it would be necessary for us to learn in more detail what Yasemin felt, for instance didn’ t she feel the blood equalizing?) May it be present, can a sonar distinguish a concious diver from a victim of deep water blackout? Of course no. Therefore, how to know when to start to recover the line? I am confused about security systems, more than ever now. In my opinion, this incident should be accepted as a milestone in freediving history and should be discussed by all, if we want to make/keep this sport not only insane people’s sport.

  11. evren orhon says:

    Add to my comment on May 1, 2010 at 9:56 am, I would like to thank to Rudi and Yasemin, having chosen to have scuba people for their dives, and I would also like to thank to the safety scuba people, who are all turkish to my knowledge, and who acted very professionally, as fas as we see.

  12. David Lee says:

    I’m really happy to know that after 10 years of diving (some hibernating years) we never got sucked into making dives cheaper by taking out the safety divers. I thank Rudi for sticking to his guns when it comes to safety procedures. I have never met someone so obsessed with safety that goes over and over situations on paper, on the computer, in his head, and in practice. Honestly it was a bit of a pain in the ass but here we have the reason for all his obsessive compulsive safety behavior. I remember when sponsorship was difficult to achieve in freediving. Sponsors always give you gear but when it comes to money its more difficult to get it out of them. We spent in excess of 25,000 USD on each of our unassisted records together and it was money well spent. Of course I always felt strong after my dives and always wanted to subtract the high dollar items from the equation. But Rudi always told me that we either do it right or don’t do it at all. All the money spent, the time invested. A major incident happened only once in our careers and because of our high dollar expenditure and time invested in safety, we are all alive and kicking, ready to terrorize sushi restaurants across the world.

    Love you Yaso. You too Rudi. But maybe I shouldn’t say that because it sounds gay.

  13. Claudio Bacchi says:

    Rudi & Yasemin, I was devastated upon hearing what had happened but I am glad that Yasemin is making a full recovery and she is OK. Please keep us abreast of her progress and wish her the best from all of us here in NJ.

  14. will says:

    In freediving the primary, and most important safety system is the athletes him/herself. There is no substitute to prudent depth progression, and listening to your body’s signals during freedives. In this incident there were two major failures of the primary safety system:
    - the decision (possibly made in collaboration with the coach) to jump from a 106m to a 125m dive, an increase of 19 meters.
    - the decision to continue the descent whilst experiencing “severe vertigo that began around 90 meters.”

    On the basis of those two factors, I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a single freedive as reckless as this one, and it is a lucky blessing (with full credit to the safety scuba divers) that the incident was not more severe. Best wishes for a speedy recovery.

  15. Rudi Castineyra says:

    Will, I assume this is William Tubridge,

    I agree with you 100% that the freediver is the most important safety system of all, and that he/she should listen to what the body says, and heed those warning signals, as well as making calculated depth progressions. However, calling this freedive reckless is not something you should be doing since you don’t: a) really know Yasemin at all and what type of person she is, b) don’t have possession of all the facts involved in the decision to jump from 106 to 125, and c) however a nice guy you are and however dedicated to freediving you are, you are the one organizing competitions on a regular basis where several people dive to depths approaching and in excess of 100 meters, and all the way down to 120 meters, where the safety system in use is the same system that can categorically be proven as unsafe, since its weak points have never been fixed and conclusive tests have not been undertaken and have yielded satisfactory results. Why did we jump from 106 to 125?

    First of all, the actual depth of 125 meters has been reached by Yasemin before, in fact, as early as 2000 she set the No Limits record to 120 meters, and in the 10 years since, she made some unofficial dives to around 130 meters. So, in terms of being there, getting there, knowing what it takes to get there and how her body reacted once there, we were very comfortable in knowing that we were not venturing into uncharted territory, only revisiting it. The only difference would be that this time, instead of ascending with a liftbag, she would ascend on her own. Yasemin had set the Variable record to 105 meters in 2001, and at that time, we knew there was more left, much more, as in fact, seemed to be proven by Tanya Streeter when she reached 122 meters in that category in 2003. So in fact, we were only trying to go 3 meters deeper than an existing record, to a depth we had been to before, so our task for whole year of training we put into this was to work on conditioning, techniques and methodology to allow Yasemin those extra 20 meters from the record she had done 9 years earlier, a record that, by the way, she had done at less than full capacity (she was sick)

    So we did just that. Yasemin started using a mono instead of two fins, and this alone we knew would take us there. But she practiced, and practiced and practiced, and then practiced some more. For a whole year. We then proceeded to exhaustively look at all the neoprene available until we found a model (Sheico L-foam) that had enough flexibility to allow her to breathe comfortably on the surface, while giving us the option of making a 7 mm suit for here that provided so much buoyancy that the last 30 meters of the ascent, when she would be at her most tired, the suit would float her up at speeds of 1.5 meter/sec without her making much effort. Basically, in equipment terms, we had already all that we needed for her to go 20 meters deeper without much trouble. But we did more in fact.

    Based on our estimates of how long this dive would take, we figured somewhere around 3:00 to 3:15 minutes. This is normal for you guys nowadays, but it is a little longer than we like for Yasemin, who because of suffering from talassemia (chronic sickle cell anemia) starts running out of oxygen on working dives at around 2:30. Of course, on the sled, because the descent is effortless, she can last much longer, but we still wanted to make sure she was more than ready to tackle a 3 minute dive, so we bought an expensive hypoxic training machine and she spent months breathing low oxygen air to improve her blood values and her tolerance for long anaerobic periods. It worked, she was showing the best results of her career during training. Now, we know that she was ready physically for 125 meters, but how did we make the decision to “jump” from 106 to 125 meters during the training?

    During the dives before the 106 dive, the sled had been too slow, per Yasemin’s request so that she had time to get her ears used to depth with ease. Her descent times were slow, which is something we knew would change by the time we started going over 100 meters. For the 106 dive, we had adjusted the speed enough to give us a time closer to what we expected, but in fact, we knew that for the 125, we would make the sled even faster. The speeds would now be the same speeds that Yasemin had used for her previous dives years earlier, so we were not putting her under undue stress here either. In fact, with the new descent speed and keeping her ascent rates the same as they had been until then, we calculated that for the 125 dive, Yasemin would only spend an additional 17-20 seconds underwater as compared to the 106 dive, which was a very encouraging number for us since she had emerged from the 106 in such fresh condition that an additional apnea time of 20 seconds was completely within her power. Keep in mind also that in this category, with a monofin, no weight belt and a super buoyant wet suit, those 19 meters only take an additional 5 pulls on the line or 4 kicks with the mono. Now, many people don’t know this, including very experienced freedivers, but depths differences in this category are not as taxing as they are in other categories, and where in constant ballast dives of all types a 3 meter increase makes a noticeable difference, in Variable, where you can use a mono, pull on the line, and use whagtever combination of those two you like, while wearing no weights and using a buoyant suit, increases of 10 meters are easier than 3 meter increases in constant, and a 19 meter increase, provided you have covered all other bases, are as difficult as 6-7 meter increases in constant. Another thing that people who have never used a sled, including experienced freedivers, don’t know is that bouts of vertigo in deep water are actually very common, and they dissipate once the ascent starts, so aborting a dive because of the presence of vertigo is not necessarily the best course of action, unless the freediver becomes dysfunctional, which Yasemin clearly was not. So, at that point, we were ready for Yasemin to reach our goal depth, and given all the above numbers, both she and I felt very comfortable that we were ready. Could we have done another couple of dives in between 106 and 125? Sure. Was it needed? Not really. She was used to equalizing at depth already, she was mentally comfortable with reaching a depth that was not new to her, she was strong enough to spend an extra 20 seconds underwater exercising minimally. We didn’t want to risk the extra dives to 115 or 120 meters because we knew she was already where she needed to be mentally and physically to reach 125, and we didn’t want those extra dives to tire her and weaken her, so from our perspective, and after considering every factor and weighing all the options carefully, this was our decision. Was it the wrong decision? Maybe. But again, given the fact that the problem, as proven by doctors, was not caused by lack of oxygen, and that it happened so deep, I’m very sure that any dive deeper than 90 meters at that point would have precipitated the same condition and caused the same results. Was the decision reckless? How can it be reckless when we so carefully studied every contributing factor before making it. How can the same people that put so much effort into setting up a complex safety system that has proven to work then turn around and recklessly decide to risk her life by saying ” oh hell, you did great at 106, let’s take you to 125, it should be fine”.

    The fact is that you can criticize our way of doing things, but although this way might be vastly different than yours, the one thing it is not is reckless. I have been involved in freediving and freediving safety probably way before you became a zen master in your blue hole, and it was FREE that created the category you excel at, as well as Yasemin the first woman to set an unassisted record. And we are very, very, very knowledgeable about freediving, training principles, physiology and utterly obsessed with safety, and have spent many years of our lives, and the vast majority of our sponsorship money, in implementing safety systems that, whether you like it or not, work. I have a lot of admiration for you as an athlete, but don’t lecture me about recklessness just as you’re about to embark on your deep dive of the day with nothing but a safety freediver in shallow water and a counter ballast system that has major flaws as the only ways to keep you alive. The freediver him/herself might be the primary safety system, agreed, but a closed second is what actions and measures that freediver follows to ensure that when things happen outside of his/her control, like it happened to Yasemin, his/her life can be saved. Are you REALLY sure you got this second part covered?


    Rudi Castineyra

  16. Ivo Truxa says:

    Thanks for the details, Rudi. Very interesting read. I’d be also interested in seeing some photos and more details about the harness you used. Hope you’ll publish it soon.

    Dr. Fitz-Clarke, one of the world leading experts on the physiology and medicine of breath-hold diving, posted a comment on the DeeperBlue forum. He asks some questions, and since I think that it is very important that this accident is properly analysed to help avoiding similar cases in future, I am copying his message here below and hope you’ll find time to answer.

    Dr. Fitz-Clarke:
    “I will refrain from debate on safety and recovery systems for now. However, the explanation given that “bleeding continued into the lungs which reacted by swelling up upon ascent” does not make sense from a medical perspective. Accidents rarely have a single cause. I think it is possible that she had some difficulty equalizing ears on descent, perhaps due to a lingering virus, and also suffered alternobaric vertigo, which can occur if there is a large pressure difference between middle ear spaces on each side. This combined with some narcosis could cause severe disorientation and departure from the line. It is also conceivable that she aspirated water at depth, and experienced laryngospasm with tight closure of the glottis. Carbon dioxide accumulation and associated reflexes then stimulate strong diaphragmatic contractions against a closed glottis that can result in negative pressure pulmonary edema. This part is not difficult to explain. It would be very useful to see hospital records and chest xray or CT if those can be made available.

    However, none of this explains why there would be loss of consciousness at the astounding depth of 40 metres! It is much too deep for shallow-water hypoxia of ascent, as the arterial PO2 would still be quite high at this depth (at least 200-300 mmHg). I would suggest that this incident had little or nothing to do with hypoxia. Re-expansion of packed lung volume on ascent if the glottis is closed near the surface could cause some drop in blood pressure due to impaired venous return, but not at this depth. Again, it does not expain a deep blackout. Since BP cannot be measured at depth, this suggestion is purely speculation. Perhaps not enough cerebral oxygen delivery. But why? What was the total dive time? Can we see the dive profile? What was her heart rate on surfacing? Hypoxia will usually relax a laryngospasm. If she happened to still have a vigorous laryngospasm on the surface, that might argue against profound hypoxia.

    Was there true loss of consciousness at that depth, or did it happen closer to the surface? A potential mechanism for LOC at such a depth is worrisome, and is not explained.”

  17. Rudi Castineyra says:


    I will be glad to give all the details I can to Dr. Clarke, as his take on this could help all of us, but I just can’t do it right now. We are very busy arranging our departure from Kas and will need a couple of days. After that, I will be able to deal with it. I also feel that the explanation we managed to come up with fills some holes but leaves others empty, so I am extremely interested to have people truly knowledgeable about the physiology of freediving, which most doctors really are not, take a look at all the relevant data. We’ll talk.


  18. Levent CEYHAN says:

    For long years have been admiring Yasemin’s great courage to achieve her goals of world records into depths humankind ever first tested of body limits. Beside courage, determined continuous disciplined practice and works accomplices sure desires great admiration.

    Congratulations Brave Heart !

    And thanks to God and all your team members that helped, in your long trip between the two worlds…

    You have set another record -106 meters, may be not – 125 but you are the World Champ and your courage and determination still lightens our lives and adds strength to us for our goals.
    I have read all the critics and detailed explanation of Rudi Castineyra about the safety precautions taken and reasons.

    Furthermore, as a scuba diver, I know personally the Aqua Club and members’ professionalism and experience, that undertaken the safety scuba divers duty. The leader of Aqua Club, Asutay Akbayır, the first and only rewarded with “Excelence in Diver Education” as Course Director, is characterized by extreme care and great effort in diving business. I have dived a number of times with him and other 7 safety divers Gözde KUŞAKÇIOĞLU, Derya DEMİREL, Özgür AKIN, Ümit Can KAYA, Burak BAYDAR, Ayşenur KETENCİ ve Doğan KAYA both in Turkey and overseas as Red Sea and Maldives and observed their keen responsibility. Thanks to your efforts carrying Yasemin back to us beside all other medical and team participants I have not had chance to meet.

    Keep well back soon Yasemin ! You are our proud…

    The detailed analysis of that dive will let to lighten up the physics, biological effects on human body and these facts may lead to critic safety precautions further development. Researches, may be as Masters’ or Doctors’ thesis in Medicine sure may lead detailed routes in future attempts. If you would need any help from a mechanical engineer, I would be very pleasant to assist in any manner.

    Rudi, with limited opportunities, you have succeeded an appreciable work and congratulations once more both for new World Record and receiving your Gift back.

    Levent CEYHAN.

  19. will says:

    Hi Rudi,
    Thank you for taking the time to respond, and being open about this incident so that the sport can benefit from understanding what happened.

    Every incident has a cause, and I still suspect that the initial decision to attempt the dive and continue it after 90m was fundamental. Calculations look good on paper, but there is no replacement for practical confirmation through methodical and conservative diving (as you noted in exhaustive testing of your safety systems).

    I don’t see the relevance of the depth being achieved a whole 9 years earlier and in a different discipline (NLT), or in the same discipline by someone else (Streeter). Neither really relate to the task and athlete at hand.
    I have done many descent assisted dives, and neither myself nor anyone else I have talked to has experienced “common vertigo.” Narcosis yes, but even mild vertigo no. As John suggests, Occam’s razor points to an equalisation problem in this case.
    Large depth jumps and world record attempts often create additional anxiety: anxiety affects equalisation ability greatly.
    Descent speed (which you said was increased for the 125m dive) also affects equalisation ability (less reaction time to equalising problems).
    Also I doubt that 19 meters equates to 5 line pulls or 4 monofin kicks, even with a buoyant wetsuit. Beyond 100m, Herbert and I would use at least 8 line pulls or 10 monofin kicks to ascend 19m, and our reach is probably 15% more than Yasemin’s.

    You made comparisons between counterballast and scuba safety. I have used both in record attempts, but recently only CB. I would be interested to see the “categorical proof” you talk of that CB is unsafe. The system we use at VB has been called one of the most efficient in the world, and by using it we avoid constantly endangering tech diver’s lives with long bottom times >100m, not to mention prohibitive expenses. If Yasemin’s incident had occurred at Dean’s (beyond the fact that we would never even have consented to an athlete attempting 19m more than their training PB), then the safety freedivers would have been able to recover her from 40m (they routinely waited for athletes at 35m in VB2010). In a hypothetical worst case scenario where she blacked out at 50m, then the CB would have been immediately activated (through sonar/line monitoring), requiring about 30″ to reach her (2.5m/s without athlete) and about another 30″ to the surface (1.5m/s with athlete). This is probably only an extra 20-25″ to the time she would have spent underwater anyway. The plastic baseplate could never cut a lanyard, and lanyards are shock-tested by judges. If athletes sink after blackout then it is feet first, so the baseplate would not collide with the head (confirmed by practical trials).
    All this is subordinated by the fact that in 1000′s of AIDA competitions and training dives, I don’t know of a single case where counterballast has ever been required in an incident. The competition we just held ran for 100 dives, with 30 records, (6 of which were world records), and there wasn’t a single blackout.

    However I must say this, and I thank you for pointing it out: in another post I think I criticized FREE for the way you approached AIDA, however it’s true that it was your organization who brought us unassisted freediving, and in particular Topi’s, David and Yasemins dives that inspired the first big wave of unassisted divers, including myself. Thank you all for this contribution, and I hope Yasemin overcomes this hurdle to return to deep freediving.

    William Trubridge

  20. Sebastian says:

    Thank you for interesting dives and interesting discussions.
    The more freediving in this world the better :-)

    But I do find freediving the most dramatic when done side by side with other athletes.

    A comment regarding the long revival phase. If it was the freediver laryngospasm that held for that long it was probably a sign that her body´s survival reflexes was still in good shape and working. At real low O2 levels the f-laryngospsam usually lets go. So I don´t think her life was in danger at any point. Good safety system and medical personnel at surface.

    I wish you health and calm weather for next time.

  21. Kars says:

    I think it’s critical to consider that safety measures for sled disciplines are different than those for self propelled disciplines.

    I like the constructive comments made, and people using valid argumentation.

    Godspeed and I love to see Yasemin’s return and success next time.


  22. Rudi Castineyra says:


    Thanks for keeping the tone open to an exchange of ideas. A few remarks to your comments:

    In hindsight, of course, it would have been ideal to abort the dive at 90 meters. I would like to think this would have eliminated the accident, but I’m not quite sure, as things happened way too deep anyway. I think that any significant exposure to pressure on that day would have yielded the same result, to a lesser degree perhaps, but that’s it. Vertigo is not very common on sled descents, but it does happen, especially on fast descents on a head-up position. For Yasemin in particular, whose left ear equalizes a little slower than the right one as a result of a rupture she suffered years ago, varying amounts of vertigo due to uneven equalization are not uncommon, and when it happens, it disappears by the time she gets to the bottom. On this particular day, she remembers the vertigo started at around 80 meters, got to a level of concern at around 90, where she considered whether she would have to abort, but then subsided at 100 an d had disappeared by the time she was past 110. We know all these depths because of the several signals Yasemin receives from the divers during both descent and ascent, to help gauge herself. By the time she had hit bottom, she was feeling fine and in control. So although I very much wish she had aborted the dive at 90, her assessment of the situation was sound.

    I think the fact that she had reached these depths years earlier, and had come very close to achieving this depth in the same category both during an official record attempt and unofficial dives is very relevant. We were not attempting a crazy goal we had no business going after. We had come very close to it when Yasemin was nowhere near the level of fitness and maturity as a diver that she has now, and another diver had supposedly gone only 3 meters shallower, so in terms of feasibility, this was a sound goal. All parametric tests we had performed during training, in the pool, gym, etc, indicated that she possessed the needed level to physically and physiologically reach that depth. You may disagree, as you have, with whether these facts are relevant, but based on our system, of how we plan and execute our training and diving goals, they are quite relevant.

    As for the statement that things can look good on paper but all that becomes irrelevant when diving, I disagree. My training system is based on a constant evaluation of several performance parameters and based on that, we set up goals, steps and procedures we follow on every dive. You may find this system devoid of spontaneity and soul, but I find it reliable, accountable and devoid of intangibles. I approach deep diving as a complex athletic task where, if we analyze carefully all these parameters, we can know ahead of time what areas need to be worked on, and ultimately, whether to abort a dive before even attempting it, as we’ve done a few times. Other people may have systems that are more spiritual and free, and these systems work without a doubt, but this should not imply that our system is any less effective. The several champions and records are there to prove it. However, we have always emphasized on the monumental importance of listening to what the body is telling us underwater and to not ignore those signs.

    take a look at this link http://www.yasemindalkilic.com/en/wp-content/gallery/pulls.jpg and you’ll see a D4 graph from Yasemin’s training dive to 101 meters. I wished I could have used the Liquivision’s graph, but since they were attached to Yasemin’s ankles, they don’t show the arm pulls well. I chose the 101 meter dive because the D4 becomes a bit erratic deeper than that. Anyway, I’m sure you can “read” a D4 graph better than anybody else, so you’ll have no problem seeing how it takes Yas around 5 pulls to cover 18-20 meters. The graph is not too clear on the first pulls from the bottom, but it is very clear from 86 to 68 meters, which she covers in exactly 5 pulls (not 5 pairs of pulls with both hands, just 5 individual pulls) in 15 seconds. The same pattern can be observed in all other dives, and this rate of ascent remains constant on deeper and shallower depths, which allows us to plan her upcoming dives, and estimate total dive time, effort rates, oxygen consumption progression, etc. And it works. So, 15 more seconds for the extra 19 meters, and an extra 5 seconds of descent time, gave us the extra 20 seconds dive time and a total dive time of 3:05 to 3:15 with some extra margin in there, a very achievable effort and apnea time as per our allowances. As a side to this, it should be noted that Yasemin has an amazingly effective and fluid technique, which consistently allows her to reach the same depths with less kicks/pulls in the same time or less than much taller, stronger and better freedivers. I used to laugh seeing her get to 20 meters in 3-4 kicks with her mono when it would take Ant Williams, David Lee, Topi Lintukangas and Bevan Dewar, all super fit, tall people (and all guys) 5-6 kicks. I think the art of underwater efficiency has been lost nowadays, which is why we see these stunningly long dive times, but it is a thing of beauty to see someone like Yasemin accomplish a lot with very little. In fact, this has been her saving grace, because with her anemia, short stature and low apnea capacity, she would have never been able to achieve what she has were it not for her capacity to dive so effortlessly. If you and Herbert are not able to accomplish the same efficiency, it must be due to differences in equipment and/or technique.

    As for my claims that the CB system “does not work” I will clarify once more. CB is a great idea, and I remember talking about with Eric Fattah back in 2000, way before AIDA made it official. As I said before, I have looked at it long and hard because it has true advantages. However, it also presents clear obstacles that must be overcome before declaring the system functional. One of them is true speed of ascent during a real life recovery. The proportion of weight between the bottom ballast and the counter weight must be no less than 5-1 in my opinion, so that acceptable speeds can be attained. Problem is, we firmly believe in the use of heavy ballasts at the end of our descent line, to make sure the line is taut and completely straight at all times, so the amount of weight needed at the CB end is considerable. This is still not a problem, but it must be noted that exhaustive and careful trials must be performed until the ideal weights are found. Set up is also essential, the separation and angles between both lines must be studied, otherwise, as it happened with Loic Leferme, the system may not be able to be activated, since the pulleys, lines, angles and friction coefficients all must be considered and balanced out until it is proven that the system works at all times. To the best of my knowledge, the system at Deans Blue hole was only truly tested once with Herbert (at 120 meters no less!) and he had to “help” the line get moving, which is not something an unconscious diver can do. I could be wrong, and I apologize if further testing has been conducted, but the fact remains that at those depths, any little delay or hiccup can be fatal. I have seen several other CB systems used for a few AIDA records and events, such as the one used by Herbert in Spetses years ago, and after testing them it was obvious they didn’t work. So, having a system in a place that should work but doesn’t, but since there is never a need to activate it, we can claim that the system is 100% safe when in fact, it isn’t. You say that you never needed to use the system at Dean’s, thanks God, but then, comprehensive testing should be undertaken frequently to ensure its viability. However, all these are still solvable points, my main concern with this system is not the CB itself, but the wrist or waist lanyards, which definitely do not guarantee protection of the airways during extraction. This is the Achilles’ tendon of this system, for we achieve nothing by bringing a freediver quickly to the surface if along the way, he/she aspirates water. Water aspiration, even in minute amounts, complicate revival procedures exponentially and drastically decrease the chances of survival when deep water, or even shallow water, incidents are dealt with. So, however good a CB system can be, and I agree that it can be good enough, the lanyard still renders it unsafe. I will post soon an article showing our alternative to the lanyard, the FREE harness, which is essentially the contraption that saved Yasemin. It can be used both with CB and scuba divers, and after rigorous testing, we have found that it keeps the airways protected at all times. More on this later.


  23. Dave Mullins says:

    The CB system at Deans was put to the test a couple of times during the recent comp, by divers who had pulled up short of the baseplate and wanted to avoid the fatigue of a self-powered ascent. It started almost immediately once the line was pulled and came up at about 1.5m/s. No problems getting off the bottom so there may well have been some improvements made since Herbert’s first test. In any case I’m sure Will can clarify.

    Ahh, the lost art of underwater efficiency. I don’t think the dive times we are seeing in CWT are overly long for the distance travelled. Remember you’re talking about self-powered dives and not VWT. We (the group of divers in the 115-120m range) on the whole have no trouble ascending rapidly, but it’s just not efficient to charge down like you can on a sled. Apples with apples…

    Thanks for publishing all the reports and information about Yasemin’s dives, I’ve been following them closely. VWT seems to be a deceptively difficult discipline that’s causing a few problems. Hopefully Yasemin can get back into it soon as she is clearly capable.


  24. Süpersiniz yasemin hanım başarılarınız devamını dilerim.

  25. Sara-Lise says:

    Dear Yasemin

    Sorry to hear and hope that you have a speedy recovery.

    Blessings from Dubai


  26. will says:

    “I chose the 101 meter dive because the D4 becomes a bit erratic deeper than that. Anyway, I’m sure you can “read” a D4 graph better than anybody else, so you’ll have no problem seeing how it takes Yas around 5 pulls to cover 18-20 meters.”
    This calculation still didn’t add up for me, and it was confirmed in your latest post on safety harnesses, where you wrote: “Take a look at Yasemin ascending from 101 meters while wearing it and she claims not to be bothered by it or impeded in her movements. Keep in mind that she is actually making pulls on the line and kicking, so in terms of diving technique, she is really putting it to the test.”
    This is what I suspected, and of course 5 pulls and about the same number of kicks TOGETHER would be standard for 18m. But is a significant amount of extra work in terms of an addition to a PB.

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