What could you do with one breath? For free diver Kyle Gion no distance has been too great in order to find the answer.
"For me, it was just trying to prove something to myself like this is a big goal of mine, can you do it Kyle?"
June 23rd, 2013, Gion answered his own question. Traveling 200-meters or four laps, with one breath.at Duke Kahanamoku pool at the University of Hawaii campus.
Not only did he set a national record, he shattered a mark he set less than 24-hours prior.
"The 200 meter performance I did for the national record I took two-minutes and 31-seconds and the day before I did 184 meters and that took two-minutes and 22-seconds." Gion said. "Really, what I do is just visualize. I think about what I'm going to do and just kind of run it through in my mind. It puts your anxiety to rest."
The sport is called "dynamic apnea diving with fins", it's recorded by distance, not depth. Gion first tried it out as a method to improve his depth at spear fishing, turned out, he was the one who got hooked.
"Ever since I took that class two years ago with Performance Free Diving, I kind of know where I can push myself and I know my symptoms or signs in breath hold. Like 'okay you have a lot of air' and then when you get closer to your limit, or where you are, you kind of know what the sensations are."
Gion has set new standard's by knowing his limits and exceeding them.
At 17, he became the youngest member of the u.s. national team and competed at the world championships in france. His meteoric success comes from countless hours of training his body to unconventional limits.
"Static breath hold is different from a moving breath hold. So I can do six-minutes, nine-seconds sitting there but when you're moving you're burning a lot more oxygen so when you do take that final breath, you want it to be the biggest breath you possibly, fill your stomach, chest, everything. Full breath in and you just go for it."
The business of free diving is cut-throat. Sponsorship money is limited, the few who can afford to train fulltime track the progress of athletes like Gion from afar. Despite the mandatory presence of regulated judges opponents constantly challenge the legitimacy of records, it's why kyle is eager to push his record out of reach.
"I definitely think I could do 300 meters if give enough time. A couple years of training, that would be a world record but for me and for everyone, the sky is the limit. It's just how much you're willing to put in."
For now, the Punahou graduate will be attending Brown University in the Fall. But, if you think his days of competing in the pool are done ... don't hold your breath.
Hawaii News Now
420 Waiakamilo Road, Suite 205
Honolulu, HI 96817
Main (808) 847-3246
News (808) 847-1112