A 32-year-old Brooklyn man died Sunday while trying to break a free diving record at a tournament in the Bahamas, police said.
Nicholas Mevoli died around 2 p.m. off the coast of the Bahamas' Long Island, about 164 miles southeast of the capital of Nassau, officials said. His body was flown to Nassau, where an autopsy was expected.
The Switzerland-based Association Internationale pour le Développement de l'Apnée, or AIDA, a worldwide federation for breath-holding diving, released a statement Sunday saying Mevoli reached the 72-meter depth of the no fins dive and swam back to the surface but had difficulty breathing while completing surface protocol and lost consciousness.
"Nick appears to have suffered from a depth-related injury to his lungs," the AIDA statement said.
Free divers, unlike scuba divers, enter the water without air tanks, regulators and hoses and swim to various depths relying entirely on the air held in their lungs.
Mevoli's uncle, Paul Mevoli, said Sunday his nephew was a free spirit who grew up loving swimming and got hooked on diving as an 8-year-old boy on trips to the Florida Keys, where he would spearfish and dive for lobsters.
"Nobody could do what he did under the water," said Paul Mevoli, 55, a dentist in St. Petersburg, Fla.
It would take Nicholas Mevoli about two minutes and 45 seconds to dive down and back up 300 feet of water in just one breath, his uncle said.
"He was very talented," said Paul Mevoli. "Even the people in the free diving world couldn't believe his skill."
Nicholas Mevoli was a Florida native who worked in the television industry in New York and was writing a screenplay about a young man on a boat and his adventures in the Florida Keys, his uncle said.
William Trubridge, organizer of the tournament, said Mevoli was trying to break a record for the deepest "Constant No Fins" free dive at the International Free Diving Competition, a nine-day contest that organizers say brought 56 divers from 21 countries. They were competing for a $20,000 prize as they tried to see who could dive the deepest without fins.
Mevoli was an accomplished free diver, winning or placing highly in various international free diving tournaments, including the top prize in the Deja Blue competition in Curaçao earlier this year and a silver medal in constant no fins at the AIDA Depth World Championship in Greece, according to the AIDA.
The Bahamas competition took place at Dean's Blue Hole, which, at 663 feet, is considered the world's deepest underwater sinkhole in seawater.