Free Diving

My canal lock escape didn’t exactly go as everyone expected it to. A safety diver dragged me out from the lock.

The Incredible Mr Goodwin: Episode 3
Shallow water blackout is a scary thing; probably scarier for the people who witness it than the person that it happens to. It was the first big hiccup that we had in the series, and when I saw the footage back, I was quite shaken up.

I knew that I had to get back in the water; and that I had to try another escape. If you allow a set back to stew in your mind, it can become a much bigger deal than it should be. I decided to get back on the horse and create another water escape, more difficult and dangerous than the canal.

Free Diving is an extraordinary sport in which athletes compete to swim great distances underwater whilst holding their breath. One of the most dangerous disciplines of free diving is called No Limits in which you hold onto a weight, which runs down a line, and you see how deep you can travel whilst holding your breath. My idea was to dispense with the line, and to be tied to the weight and get dragged to the bottom, trying to escape all on a single breath of air. The rapid pressure change that you experience as you travel down into deep water is incredibly dangerous, not to mention the obvious risk of drowning. I knew this would be my greatest underwater challenge.

Late October in England is not the most ideal time to get into a lake, and the temperatures were not much above 32f. I wanted to do a test holding onto a weight to see how fast the descent was and if I could equalize the pressure in my ears.

I was dragged to the bottom incredibly quickly but that part of the test was successful as I found that I could equalize my ears. What wasn’t quite so smooth is that I had completely forgotten to breath out into my mask on the way down and equalize that air space too. I got a very severe mask ‘squeeze’ as the mask sucked down onto my face and it ruptured all of the blood vessels in my eyes. I looked like a zombie, which given that it was just coming up to Halloween would save me the need to buy a costume, but I was concerned about whether the paramedic would allow me to continue with the stunt.

After a thorough examination and lots of begging and pleading on my part, I was given the go ahead, and we filmed what turned out to be my favorite escape stunt of the series.

- Jonathan Goodwin on his experience free diving in Episode 2