Londoner breaks British freediving record after ‘extremely challenging year’

British freediver Gary McGrath (Daan Verhoeven )
British freediver Gary McGrath (Daan Verhoeven )

A Londoner has broken the British freediving record at a prestigious competition in the Bahamas.

Forty-one-year-old Gary McGrath used a monofin flipper and held his breath for more than three minutes to swim down 112m at the Vertical Blue contest to break the British record.

Organising body Aida judged his effort was clean and presented him with the white card to recognise he had broken the previous record of 111m.

Mr McGrath, from Twickenham, said: “Diving below 100m is a totally unique environment, it’s my therapy.

Gary McGrath (Daan Verhoeven)
Gary McGrath (Daan Verhoeven)

“This year has been extremely challenging for my mental health and freediving has helped me overcome that for sure.

“At depth I have complete isolation from the everyday world we live in. Down there it’s just me and nature. It’s that escape that all freedivers crave.

“There are moments of extreme mental clarity and purity that I can only achieve when underwater. The flow state that a deep dive allows me to experience is unique and addictive.”

Freedivers descend underwater on a single breath of air and the atmospheric pressure on their bodies increases as they go deeper.

At 112m deep the pressure is 12 times greater than the surface, meaning the air in Gary’s lungs would have shrunk to less than a twelfth of its original volume - around the size of a golf ball.

Freedivers train to cope with the physiological strains placed on their bodies by their sport, and Mr McGrath uses his background of yoga and meditation to help his physical and mental preparation for deep dives.

Additional reporting by PA.