As freedivers, we depend entirely on our lungs and their efficiency for our sport. Yet numerous freedivers, some of them elite, smoke cigarettes. Even Enzo Maiorca, a multiple world record holder back in the day, was a smoker, although he would stop smoking one month before competitions. So let us have a look at how smoking can impact a freediver’s breath-hold capabilities.
Reduced Lung Flexibility
Smoking depletes an enzyme called elastin, which enables lung flexibility. Freedivers rely on flexible lungs, not only to inflate and contain as much air as possible but to protect us from lung squeezes as well. Less flexible lungs can lead to being more prone to lung squeeze.
Narrowed Blood Vessels
Nicotine causes our blood vessels to constrict, limiting the amount of blood flow to the organs. If this constant constriction continues, the blood vessels become less elastic and stiffer, which reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients our cells are given. In order to compensate for the reduced amount of oxygen and nutrients, the heart rate may increase.
Increased Heart Rate, Blood Pressure, And Metabolism
Nicotine, the highly addictive substance found in cigarettes and some electronic cigarette liquid, raises a person’s heart rate, blood pressure, and metabolism. Since smokers have higher heart rates than they would have if they were non-smokers, this means reduced overall breath-hold times.
What About Marijuana?
It is not recommended to get high and freedive, just as it is not recommended to get drunk and freedive. Why? Impaired judgment might be fine when you are on land with your friends or safe at home, but it definitely is not what you need at depth. Freediving already has its risks, do you really want to increase the chances of something going wrong and put your safety and your buddy’s safety at risk?