One Breath: Freediving, Death, and the Quest to Shatter Human Limits
by Adam Skolnick
"... freediving is both an athletic quest to push the limits of the body and mind, and a spiritual experience."
As a science nerd, water lover, avid scuba diver and wannabe mermaid, I was instantly drawn to this title. One Breathe tells the story of Nick Mevoli, an award-winning free diver who, in 2013, tragically lost his life doing what he loved most - pushing limits and exploring the depths.
For those unfamiliar with the extreme sport of free diving, it is where a trained swimmer packs as much air as they can into their lungs and plunges as deep as they possibly can into the sea, often as far as 100 meters or more. There's no oxygen tank involved, just that one breath to keep him or her going throughout their journey. It tests the limits of the human body in the most hostile environment on the planet. As the first athlete to die in an international free diving competition, Mevoli's death brought into question the impact of diving deep on the body and the ultimate risks involved with the sport. Lung squeeze in free diving is comparable to a concussion in hockey or football - completely misunderstood for so many years, but as it occurs more and more, is being taken more seriously.
In this title, Skolnick dives into our body's physiology and how humans are able to continue to push the limits and dive where no person has dove before. He gives an insight into the sport and its competitive nature, yet shares how everyone involved is very much a family, challenging each other to push their limits and dive deeper. The book did a great job at keeping me intrigued and engaged from beginning to end, alternating between snippets of Melvoli's personal life and his competition life. However, while Skolnick's narrative of this underwater sport makes it sound exhilarating, I think I'll stick to exploring what lies beneath the surface with my air supply strapped to my back.