Nicholas Mevoli learned to dive without fins and oxygen tanks when he visited the Florida Keys as a child.
A young Brooklyn freediver who died over the weekend while competing for a world record did so much damage to his lungs during his 236-foot plunge that he couldn’t survive, his family told The Daily News Monday.
Nicholas Mevoli, 32, who lived in Williamsburg, surfaced Sunday after sinking to a depth of 72 meters, or 236-feet, in an international freediving competition in the Bahamas.
Initially Mevoli flashed an OK sign when he come above water, organizers said. But he couldn’t speak and lost consciousness about 30 seconds later. Immediate emergency efforts from medics at the competition failed to save him, said his uncle, Paul Mevoli.
“I know what happened from talking to his friend, who was there with him. Basically, Nic just pushed the limit. He was having trouble about three-quarters of the way down, but decided to keep going for it,” said Mevoli, 55, a dentist in St. Petersburg, Fla.
“He got the tag and came back up, but he damaged his lungs so badly he was bleeding internally into his lungs. He was bleeding so much they couldn’t keep him alive — they couldn’t revive him,” said Mevoli, who is also an avid water sportsman.
‘Nobody could do what he did under the water,’ said an uncle of Nicholas Mevoli’s.
“Nic,” as the family called him, grew up with his parents in St. Petersburg, along with his older sister, two younger stepsisters, multiple cousins and a boisterous, loving extended family, said his uncle.
For the past 24 years, starting when Nic was 8, the nephew and uncle — often accompanied by other relatives and close friends — made a jaunt to Key West to go spearfishing and lobster hunting.
“He took to the water like a fish,” said Mevoli. “He was a real waterbug, and he grew into a great guy. Simple, unassuming, generous, heart of a lion. He was a real cool cat.
The devastated family is awaiting official word from authorities in Nassau, where Nicholas Mevoli’s body was taken after his fateful dive.
“Unfortunately, none of the immediate family is in a position to go down to the Bahamas right now because everybody’s passport is expired,” said Mevoli. “The officials are helping us work things out.”
Mevoli broke the U.S. constant weight record for freediving last year.
Mevoli, who started competitive freediving about a year ago, was hoping to reach 236 feet with just one breath and no swimming fins.
The young diver broke the U.S. constant weight record for freediving in 2012 and had racked up numerous other wins, his uncle said.
Police said he died in the waters off the coast of the Bahamas’ Long Island around 2 p.m. Sunday.
The Swiss-based Association Internationale pour le Développement de l’Apnée, or AIDA, said in a release that Mevoli appeared to suffer “a depth-related injury to his lungs.”
His death prompted an outpouring of grief among his friends as well as his family.
Nicholas Mevoli died off the coast of Long Island in the Bahamas around 2 p.m. Sunday.
“Stunned. Nick will be missed no doubt. I am glad to have met him and learnt from him. Very kind and gentle. Thoughts and prayers to … his family and friends. Peace and love,” wrote a friend on the Facebook page of Vertical Blue, one of the competition’s sponsors.
Similar messages appeared on Facebook pages for Mevoli’s father, cousin and other relatives.
“He will be greatly missed,” said one family friend.
“Praying for you and your family,” said another.
Mevoli learned to dive without fins and oxygen tanks as a child while with his uncle in the Florida Keys.
He moved to Brooklyn a few years ago to start a career in television production and follow what his his uncle called “his other passion: acting.”
Mevoli had hoped to break the record Sunday for deepest “Constant No Fins” dive at the International Free Diving Competition, a nine-day contest that organizers say brought 56 divers from 21 countries. They were competing for a $ 20,000 prize at Dean’s Blue Hole, which, at 663 feet, is considered the world’s deepest underwater sinkhole in seawater.
With News Wire Services