Champion Free Diver Dies Trying to Set New Record

Nicholas Mevoli loses consciousness shortly after he surfaced at Bahamas tournament

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U.S. free diving champion Nicholas Mevoli died on Sunday after attempting to set a new record at a tournament in the Bahamas.

The 32-year-old New York City resident was trying to break the record for deepest “No Constant Fin” by reaching 236 feet (72 meters) with one breath of oxygen and without fins. Mevoli surfaced after the dive and signaled that he was O.K., according to the New York Times. But his words were garbled and less than a minute later he lost consciousness. Medical staff were unable to revive him.

Mevoli only began competitive free diving early last year. But he quickly went on to win titles at premiere tournaments in the Cayman Islands and CuraƧao. The Bahamas competition was taking place at Dean’s Blue Hole, which is considered the world’s deepest seawater sinkhole at a depth of 663 feet (202 meters).

Mevoli is the first athlete to die in an international competition in free diving’s 21-year history, according to the sport’s governing body.