How Deep Can a Person Dive? Going Beyond Limits!

Catching a glimpse of the underwater is generally enticing. And because of the amazing wonders of marine life, many are eager to know how deep can a person dive. However, the ocean is not part of our natural habitat, people can only go for a certain limit deep down. So, if you want to have an idea about the maximum depth water limit one can go read on and find the answer below!

Defining Deep Diving

For us to fully understand the maximum depth a person can dive, let us first define what is deep diving. Generally, once a person dives on a depth of more than 20 meters or 60 feet, it is already considered deep diving. But, it is not as simple as that because deep diving entails different types. And, each type provides a distinct definition of deep diving.

First, we have recreational diving and the second one is commercial diving. These two types of deep diving involve wearing the appropriate scuba gear. For divers gearing to experience either of these two deep-diving types, they should have to wear a diving suit with a scuba tank and gloves. Others also opt to wear an atmospheric suit for a deeper dive underwater.

However, there is the so-called freediving in which a person opts to dive underwater without any breathing apparatus or scuba gear. Freediving is generally considered if particularly done in deep water. Usually, free divers only take one extreme deep breath, and then they dive for hundred feet underwater without anything. Training, practice, and discipline are the only requirement here but can be very dangerous.

Different Risks Associated with Deep Diving

Strictly following the guidelines and procedures of deep diving may make it generally safe for divers. Yet, there are also some risks to be taken into account.

Decompression Sickness

Also known as bends, decompression sickness happened once breathing air, including oxygen, nitrogen, and others, as one dive. Usually, the body uses oxygen; however, since there is nitrogen, that gas will be released out in time because the body does not really need it. Basically, the nitrogen contained inside the body turns into bubbles when there is an immediate drop in pressure.

So, the bubbles will get trapped into the joints and may result in more serious pain. Generally, this condition may be addressed by using hyperbaric oxygen therapy. The treatment usually requires the divers to be inside a recompression chamber.

Nitrogen Narcosis

Since divers will be taking in nitrogen, which is generally a foreign gas inside our body; too much level of it may produce a narcotic effect. Usually, symptoms include tingling sensation on the fingers, disorientation, and dizziness. Moreover, there will also be the occurrence of tunnel vision. Keep in mind that the deeper the dive, nitrogen narcosis will also be greater.

Generally, the effect of nitrogen narcosis starts at a depth of 100 feet underwater. From here, divers usually begin to consume more air inside which is a way to get in more compressed nitrogen. This risk can be elevated by performing a scuba dive to greater depths.

Nitrogen gas absorption into the human tissues takes place rapidly. The brain and the nervous system can be highly affected and may also lead to drowsiness or unconsciousness. Unfortunately, there are some divers who can be affected by nitrogen narcosis faster. They may generally experience the effect of this risk early on a depth of 60 feet or less.

Rapid Air Consumption

Once going deeper, the air being taken in will tend to be denser because of the increasing pressure under the water. This basically means that deep-diving basically allows the diver to take in more air. That’s why it is very important to monitor the pressure gauge. An extra small cylinder or a pony bottle will be very helpful here especially over the safety stop line.

How Deep Can a Person Dive With Scuba Gear

Generally, with the appropriate diving suit, the maximum depth a person can dive is about 1,000 feet or more than that. Yet, with the additional help of the atmospheric suit, 2,000 feet depth is highly possible to dive into.

Maximum Depth for Recreational Divers

Diving institutions already set some of the basic depths that a recreational diver can able to dive.

  • 12 meters or 40 feet – adults without any training and children with certification
  • 18 meters or 60 feet – adults having a basic open water certification
  • 21 meters or 70 feet – teenagers with advanced certification
  • 40 meters or 130 feet – advanced divers

Maximum Depth for Commercial Divers

Unlike recreational divers, commercial divers usually dive underwater for a number of reasons. Regardless of their purposes, 200 meters or 600 feet is the maximum water depth that determines how deep can a person dive commercially. 

  • Construction workers dealing with underwater cables and laying of pipelines who can spend a maximum of 12 hours or greater under the water
  • Offshore diving due to oil and gas rigs construction and maintenance
  • Hazardous materials diving for repairing of filters of the underwater equipment
  • Shipwrecks exploration and sell parts to gain profits

Maximum Depth a Person Can Dive Before Being Crushed

Actually, crushing out underwater is an incident that tends to be much unexpected. Meaning to say, it is hard to distinguish the standard depth that a diver can get crushed. Sometimes, recreational divers don’t have the ability to reach deep down 130 feet.

Yet, other recreational divers can go deeply below 1,000 feet and they can perfectly ascend alright afterward. However, commercial divers may not have any difficulty in going down beyond 2,000 feet by using atmospheric suits.

The increasing water weight or pressure is the one that you should look out for which may contribute to the reason of being crushed out. It is really dangerous as the water pressure has the ability to squeeze out the lungs and constrict breathing.

How Deep Can a Person Dive Without Scuba Diving Gear

how deep can a person dive

Humans can still go underwater even without the use of any breathing equipment. Like what we’ve discussed earlier, this is known as the freediving. But, the question is how deep can a person dive if they don’t have a source of air to breathe in underwater?

Well, everyone is unique and it also applies true when it comes to dealing with a certain situation. One may even reach the limit without any difficulties while others may not able to do so. When it comes to diving, people can go down deep for around three minutes under the water without oxygen. And if one is still underwater for five to ten minutes without air, serious brain damage may occur.

Yet, free divers who undergo regular training can be underwater for a much greater time period. It is because they already knew the proper way of minimizing metabolic functions and oxygen preservation. Normally, people without any training especially in swimming can hold their breath for 30 minutes time. This is without any need for gasping the air. But, freedivers can do so for more than 10 minutes without any breathing gear.

World Records for Deepest Dives

Basically, how deep can a person dive may arise due to some few reasons. First, humans really like to push the limits of technology behind saturation diving. Next, they test their maximum depth diving limit because they want to increase the physical adjustment to water pressure. Humans also want to explore the underwater and record the distinctness of marine life.

Additionally, they want to get public recognition. But, one more reason that really stands out why people want to know their maximum depth for diving is due to knowing more about human capabilities. Generally, curiosity is the main thing behind every deep-diving exploit. And because of that, there are a few who gained recognition for making the deepest diving records.

Deep diving is basically categorized on the depth of water a person can dive which can go beyond 18 meters down. And with this falls three main categories in which world records of the deepest divers had been made.

Vessel / Submarine Dive: JAMES CAMERON

This deep-diving category usually works with some concerns about communication and navigation. The concern generally arises from the safe confinement of a diver inside a closed cabin with pressure.

Under vessel diving, James Cameron set a record under his name for being the very first one to reach the maximum depth of 6.8 miles Marina Trench all by himself. With the help of “The Challenger”, his special submarine, Cameron was able to reach one of the deepest ocean parts.

Once got there, he stayed on the underwater for a period of 3 hours gathering data before he went upward back to the ground. James Cameron is the popular movie director of Titanic.

Scuba Dive: AHMED GABR

Scuba divers generally deal with extreme physical pressure, great fatigue, and strict monitoring of air intake. Based on history, Dr. Guy Garman is the first one who was attempted to make the deepest dive. Unfortunately, this most knowledgeable scuba diver passed away during that attempt in 2015.

In his attempt, Dr. Garman was trying to redefine the maximum water depth for deep diving that humans can go beyond. However, it ended up in tragedy taking off his life. After all, many professional divers discouraged his attempt. They just want this incident to become a lesson for everyone so that it will never happen again.

The diving attempt done by Dr. Garman is known as the ultra-deep dives. This is a category of deep diving in which divers are trying to break the record for the deepest dive.

So, the deepest dive record for scuba diving is still held by Ahmed Gabr, an Egyptian scientist and diver. He is the latest one who broke the last record by just 15 meters with an end result of 332 meters. Gabr, having a team of divers, medical and communication support team, dived into the South Sinai. His team has 24 trainers plus the divers and those on the medical and communication support.

Four years of extreme training for mental and physical health geared him up to succeed on this. Gabr opted to finish this record-breaking event in 2012, yet the delay was because of some political-related situation.

He actually made his own body as a guinea pig to fully understand his study about nitrogen narcosis. Well, thankfully, he did it with great success.


In freediving, divers deal with everything that they can experience on scuba diving. Yet, the difference is that there is no air source or breathing apparatus during diving. The divers will only have to depend on the capacity of their lungs to keep their body oxygenated.

Herbert Nitsch is a free diver who actually holds about 30 world records for free diving. He set a record of 702 feet in a single breath in 2007. There was a time when he held a record of a maximum depth of 831 feet without oxygen. However, as he was ascending back to the surface, he sustained a brain injury.

 On June 6, 2012, he went down to Greece for a depth of 253 meters. Unfortunately, for the last 10 meters downward, Nitsch already experienced intense decompression sickness. He was immediately aided by medical support divers who were with him.

But, then, taking into account the stress and pressure on his body under the water, the record hold by Nitsch is still amazing.

Safety Tips for Deep Diving

Again, deep diving can be safe if the exploration on how a deep can a person dive is done properly. Here are some of the things that one should have to keep in mind when it comes to deep diving:

The Do’s of Deep Diving:

  • Basically, it is very important to set the dive. Determine the maximum depth and the time that one can able to stay within the bottom.
  • Before diving, always conduct a Pre-Dive Safety Check
  • Always monitor the depth and the pressure gauge on a regular basis. Ensure that the amount of air inside the tank is sufficient enough during the ascent.

The Don’ts of Deep Diving:

  • Never dive without any support team. It is very important to have an experienced diver who will accompany you underwater.
  • Do not go farther down the planned depth or try to exceed the established bottom time.

Getting Started on Deep Diving:

how deep can a person dive

Basically, there is a supervision of a diving instructor on the initial deep dive. Well, this is usually conducted during the Advanced Open Water Dive course. Within the course, a person will be trained to dive on a water depth level of about 30 meters or 100 feet. Another option here is to go into a Deep Diver Specialty course. This is where one can be trained to dive down at a depth of 40 meters or 140 feet.

Now, if one already has a certification for deep diving under such courses, doing an actual deep dive can be done with the support of an experienced diving partner. As going deep down the water, some deep diving sites lead divers to shipwrecks. With that, a specialty course for wreck diving will be also essential.

Here is a basic guide on how to take a first dive:

  1. Get into the water.
  2. Immediately set the dive watch to the orientation or direction.
  3. If all is set, make a signal to the diving buddy and start descending. Deflate the BCD slowly while descending. Always look on the diving partner and descend together closely.
  4. Continue diving and expect to experience a thermocline or sudden temperature change. Don’t worry, this is normal.
  5. Upon reaching the planned depth, never go beyond that. Ascend as the bottom time is already reached as well.
  6. Once ready for ascending, communicate with the diving buddy and ascend together.
  7. Ascend slowly following the normal rate of 20 meters per minute while deflating the BCD.
  8. Stop safely every 5 meters for 3 minutes time.
  9. Prior to the ascent, deploy the DSMB.

Final Words

The maximum depth a person can dive actually varies depending on the category of deep diving one may fall into. There are recreational divers who cannot go very deep down underwater. Although, one can still explore deep down provided that they have certifications for certain diving categories. Moreover, commercial divers can dive deeper because of their nature of work.

Amazingly, there are divers who set a record of the deepest dives in the world. Unfortunately, there are some who even take the risk of death just to attain or to break the records. And it is not surprising if there is someone who still will continue doing so. Whether it is a lure or a thirst for knowledge, deep-diving would be a one-of-a-kind underwater experience.