How Deep Can a Human Dive With or Without Scuba Gear

Ever wondered how deep can a human dive? Well, there are probably various factors that affect how far you can go into the blue depths of the sea or ocean. 

Diving with scuba gear, snorkeling gear, no gear at all, water temperature, and your health or fitness can all affect how deep you can dive. 

It is always good to find out what depths people can reach, especially if you want to make sure you will be able to return to the surface safely. In this guide, we discuss how deep the human body is capable of diving with or without scuba gear. 

how deep can a human dive

How Deep Can a Human Dive Without Scuba Gear?

Diving without any scuba gear is called freediving, where you dive down into the water without any breathing apparatus. Since the freediver takes a huge breath before descending into the depths of the water, this form of diving is very dangerous, especially if you are not quite sure what your body’s abilities are. 

If you are diving without any snorkeling gear, you probably won’t be able to go very deep at first. But as you practice and familiarize yourself with the water temperature or environment, you can gradually increase your fitness level and lung capacity. 

Most freedivers can reach a depth of 20 feet / 6 meters after quite a bit of practice. Experienced freedivers can dive up to 40 feet / 12 meters deep without any gear. 

The Deepest Free Dive Ever

William Trubridge holds the freediving record. At 30 years old, this New Zealander managed to dive 396 feet / 121 meters deep without any breathing apparatus or fins and only a weight apparatus. William Trubridge’s dive was completed in four minutes and 10 seconds.

Off the record, Herbert Nitsch is known for the deepest free dive ever. On 6 June 2012, he descended 253 meters into the water in Greece. He suffered from decompression sickness and was assisted by medical professionals. 

How Long Can Humans Go Without Air?

This is a complex situation since various factors can affect your ability to go without air. For example, the average person can go for up to 3 minutes without breathing but will likely pass out much sooner (around 90 seconds) because of low lung capacity. The average person also starts to suffer brain damage if they are deprived of oxygen for 5 – 10 minutes. 

Athletes and divers can hold their breath for much longer because their lung capacity increases and they learn to reduce metabolic functions and preserve oxygen while spending time underwater. 

Aleix Segura Vendrell from Spain holds the world record for holding his breath the longest. On 28 February 2016, this man managed to hold his breath for 24 minutes. He did, however, breathe pure oxygen before descending underwater for his test and wasn’t submerged to the great depths that divers often reach. 

What Happens When You Freedive Too Deep?

Freediving is very dangerous because you can run out of oxygen and pass out before being able to return to the surface. It is often hard to determine when to start making the turn back to the surface when you are busy marveling at beautiful aquatic species. 

Staying under for too long often results in drowning unless you have a dive buddy ready to save you if you lose consciousness or get water into your lungs. 

How Deep Can a Human Dive With Gear?

Humans can dive to surprisingly deep depths if they have the right scuba gear. As with freediving, numerous factors can affect how deep you can dive. 

Here is a quick look at the main things that can affect your diving depth:

Scuba Qualification

Unlicensed recreational divers are only allowed to dive up to 60 feet underwater. If you are qualified and have a PADI scuba diving certificate, you can start diving on your own and descend to depths lower than 60 feet. 

Water Temperature 

The human body has a normal temperature of 98.6 degrees, which can drop if you are exposed to cold air or water. In cold water, your body loses warmth 25 times faster than when you are exposed to cold air.

Your body loses a lot of body heat when you enter cold water and the oceans get a lot colder as you ascend into great depths. Diving gear like a wet suit can insulate your body so you won’t lose too much body heat too quickly. You will eventually get cold even with the best dive suit. 

When your body reaches a temperature of 95 degrees, you may start experiencing hypothermia. If your body temperature drops to 82 degrees or lower, you may experience extreme hypothermia symptoms or lose consciousness. It is wise to dive much deeper in warmer regions than in colder regions or in summer compared to winter. 

how deep can a human dive

Diving Gear

Quality diving gear can make a huge difference in your ability to dive deeper. 

Diving suits can be specially developed to keep your body temperature for longer. You can use weights so your body can decent into depths faster, and the right tanks can make it possible for you to breathe at a greater water pressure level. 

Air Type

As you descend deeper into the ocean, it becomes a lot harder to breathe because of the weight or pressure of the water pushing down on your body. Breathing gasses also become more pressurized and you end up requiring a lot more oxygen.

To overcome the pressure issue, deep divers need to have different breathing gas quantities for different depths.  

Normal diving breathing gas for recreational diving is referred to as air and usually contains 21% oxygen, 78% nitrogen, and 1% trace gasses. This type of air is only safe to use up to a depth of 130 feet / 40 meters and the maximum operating depth is 218 feet / 66 meters after which you stand a good chance of getting sensory distortions or seizures.

For deep diving, divers need to carry additional gas tanks and alter their gas quantity as they descend deeper. For deep-diving of 218 feet to 400 feet and beyond, they often use Trimix or Heliox gas.   

Air stations are also placed underwater for divers to switch out tanks after reaching a great depth so they can successfully ascend without drowning.    


Experience plays a huge role in your ability to dive deep into the ocean. Without proper training and experience, it becomes very hard to keep your cool under pressure or calculate the gas mixtures you need for breathing, ensuring that there will be sufficient air for ascending and avoiding dangerous conditions like decompression sickness while diving. 

In ideal conditions and with proper gear like a dry suit, scuba tank, gloves, flippers, and goggles, divers can dive up to 1000 feet under sea level. With advanced equipment like atmospheric suits, divers can reach a much deeper depth of up to 2000 feet. 

The Deepest Scuba Dive Ever

Ahmed Gabr from Egypt holds the current deep scuba dive record. At an age of 41 years, he plunged to a depth of 1090 feet / 332.35 meters into the Red Sea on the Dahab coast in 2014. 

It is also good to give recognition to Dr. Guy Garman (also referred to as Doc Deep). This technical diver died in 2015 after attempting to break Ahmed Gabr’s record with a 370-meter deep dive. He sadly drowned before he could reach the air station that was positioned at 350 feet deep. 

How Deep Can You Go in the Ocean Without Dying    

Since Ahmed Gabr’s world record for deep diving is set at 1090 feet or 332.35 meters and Dr. Guy Garman died before reaching an attempted depth of 350 meters, it is probably safe to assume that a depth of 332.35 is the maximum depth the human body is capable of reaching. 

Divers should also keep in mind that Ahmed Gabr had an air station positioned underwater and he was accompanied by 45 assistants on his great dive. 

There is no fixed depth for how deep you can or should dive without dying. Most divers will never dive deeper than 130 meters and many drown before reaching this point. 

How Deep Can You Scuba Dive With Nitrox?

Nitrox has been used for diving since the 1950s and was first implemented by the Navy and commercial diving companies. But this gas wasn’t available to recreational divers until 1985 when Dick Rutowksi retired from the NOAA diving program and developed the first Nitrox training program.

This breathing gas was once considered a deep diving gas but it isn’t suitable for extremely deep dives. The gas consists of elevated oxygen levels and as such can’t be used beyond a certain depth. If Nitrox is used over its recommended depth limit, you stand a chance of getting seizures. 

Nitrox mises are usually sold with oxygen percentages of 32% or 36%. With the 32% oxygen gas, divers can dive up to 33 meters / 110 feet deep. With the 36% oxygen gas, divers can only reach a depth of 28 meters / 90 feet. 

What Happens If a Human Dives Too Deep?    

A lot of different things can happen if you dive too deep. Your body temperature can drop causing hypothermia, you could panic and drown or you can develop one of many different deep diving conditions. 

Some of the risks include nitrogen narcosis, oxygen poisoning, decompression illness, and pressure injuries, and you could experience quite a few other unpleasant effects. 

Deep-Sea Pressure Effects on Humans    

The effects that deep-sea pressure has on your body depend on the pressure level and your health. 

As you descend deeper into the ocean, the water pressure increases, reducing the volume of air spaces left in your body. This decreases your buoyancy and increases the amount of oxygen and nitrogen you have in your blood. 

At sea level, you will experience the pressure of just one bar. At ten meters deep, this pressure level increases to 2 bars, and from this point, the pressure level increases by 1 bar for every 10 meters you dive. This essentially means that you will feel the pressure of 4 bars at 30 meters deep, 7 bars at 60 meters deep, and so forth. 

At 10 meters, the volume in your air mask and ears has already reduced by 50%. If you don’t equalize these spaces frequently, you may capture your eardrums or the capillaries in your eyes. Beginner divers also have a greater risk of blackouts in shallow waters of 10 meters. 

At a great depth, the deep-sea pressure can be powerful enough to cause your lungs to collapse, resulting in instant death. 

How Deep Can a Human Dive Before Being Crushed?    

A human bone can be crushed at 11159 kilograms per square inch. For your bones to be crushed, you will need to reach a water depth of 35.5 kilometers. But even if there was an ocean this deep, you would be dead long before reaching this point because your lungs are much more likely to collapse due to the water pressure. 

Even the best divers can’t breathe properly after 1090 feet / 332 meters under sea level despite using the best oxygen mixtures. At this depth, your lungs may already collapse. 


Now that you know how deep can a human dive or how long you can safely dive without getting sick or being crushed by water, you can be much safer when pushing your limits on your next dive holiday. 

We hope that you found our guide useful and if you are looking for other great info, you should have a look at some of the other guides we have on Scuba Diving Books. With our site, you can learn all there is to know about diving or find the best diving gear. 

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