How Deep Can a Human Dive Without Scuba Gear?

How Deep Can a Human Dive Without Scuba Gear?


Diving has always been a fascinating activity for humans. Exploring the underwater world and experiencing the serenity of the ocean is an experience unlike any other.

While scuba diving has made it possible to explore the depths of the ocean, free diving is a unique way of diving without any equipment. In this blog post, we will dive into the depths of how deep a human can dive without scuba gear, the challenges involved, and some tips on how to stay safe while free diving.

Free Diving vs. Scuba Diving

Free diving is the practice of diving underwater without any breathing apparatus. The diver holds their breath and relies on their own physical abilities to dive, explore and return to the surface.

In contrast, scuba diving involves the use of specialized equipment that allows divers to breathe underwater for extended periods. Scuba diving also enables divers to explore the underwater world at greater depths than free diving.

What's the Maximum Depth for a Free Diver?

The world record for free diving is currently held by Arnaud Jerald, who dived to a depth of 122 meters (400 feet) in July 2023 without oxygen tank. However, diving to such great depths without scuba gear is incredibly dangerous and requires years of training and experience.

At a depth of 20 metres, water pressure is around 3 times that of the surface, which can lead to nitrogen narcosis, a condition that can affect both free divers and scuba divers at great depths and causes them to feel intoxicated or disoriented.

Although uncommon, it is also possible to suffer decompression sickness (DCS) if you are doing repetitive and long deep dives over a short period of time. However, it is highly unlikely for novice free divers to experience decompression sickness as they will not dive often enough or deep enough for the extended periods that would expose them to DCS.

Most recreational free divers can only dive to a depth of around 12-18 metres without scuba gear. Diving to this depth requires a certain level of physical fitness and training, and divers must be aware of the risks involved. It's essential to listen to your body and avoid pushing yourself too hard.

Staying Safe While Free Diving

To stay safe while free diving, it's essential to follow some basic safety rules. Always dive with a buddy and never dive alone.

Make sure to take a deep breath before diving and avoid hyperventilating, which can cause you to lose consciousness underwater. Keep track of your heart rate and avoid diving if you have any heart conditions.

Finally, be aware of the signs of nitrogen narcosis and return to the surface immediately if you experience any symptoms.


While free diving can be an incredible way to explore the underwater world, it's essential to remember that diving without scuba gear is dangerous and requires extensive training and experience.

Most recreational free divers can only dive to a depth of around 12-18 metres, and divers must be aware of the risks involved. If you're interested in exploring the underwater world, consider taking a scuba diving course with Scuba Schools International (SSI) or the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI). Dive Newcastle offers a wide range of scuba gear for all levels of divers, so whether you're a beginner or a professional deep diver, we have the equipment you need to explore the underwater world safely.