Diver recounts breathtaking ocean plunge

A Big Blue-style Irish free diver has revealed how he plunged the height of a 15-storey building under the ocean on a single breath.

Feargus Callagy has also stunned medical experts when he is clocked in Sligo General Hospital getting his heartbeat below a rate of 31 beats per minute — the normal resting heartbeat for a human is between 60 and 100 beats.

An amazed cardiac technician guessed his heart actually slowed to 25 beats during their experiment for RTÉ’s Documentary On One, as their heart monitor clocks off when a heartbeat falls below 31.

The Sligo father, who can hold his breath for more than five minutes, is spearheading the sport of barreling down to incredible depths with no air supply in Ireland.

In a new documentary, Fire and Water, he tells how he plummeted almost 144ft under the Egyptian Red Sea at Sharm El Sheikh on one gulp of air earlier this summer.

He said: “The best I have gone is 5 minutes 15 seconds just lying on the surface. You relax as much as you can and go into the zone.

“It has been described as the most relaxing extreme sport. When I got into free diving I started to admire what the human body can do.”

A fireplace fitter by day, his extraordinary ability to hold his breath makes him feel very peaceful.

“There are three phases to holding your breath. The first couple of seconds are quite pleasant. After 30 or 40 seconds you have an urge to breathe. Once you get beyond that it gets very, very peaceful again.

Feargus said the most extreme divers in the sport risk their lives with plunges as deep as 250 metres.

He said: “It can be dangerous. I can think of three people since I started the sport that have passed away. They are going over 200-250m, which is a phenomenal depth, and no one can rescue you.”

* Fire and Ice airs on RTÉ Radio today at 2pm.


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