Claire Paris, internationally known professor at the University of Miami, broke the USA Women’s National Freediving record in the Dynamic No Fins category. She competed against twelve other athletes in the first annual event, lasting three minutes and seven seconds underwater on a single breath. She swam 128 meters, the equivalent of 420 feet, in this record breaking dive.
In this event, participants swim underwater without fins for as long as they can on one single breath. Paris added three meters (ten feet) to the previous record, set by Shell Eisenberg, a performance freediving instructor in Hawaii.
USA Freediving is a nonprofit association founded in 2003.
Paris is the director of the Physical-Biological Interactions Laboratory at the UM Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and was quoted as saying that this award was a “reflection of my connection with water and the ocean . . . I have dedicated my life to the study and conservation of the ocean and freediving makes me feel one with the water.”
She has also been quoted as saying that freediving promotes a sense of peace and fulfillment. She adds that having no fear of deep diving has made her a better scientist.
Paris is known for inventing the modeling tools that are used, throughout the world, to track “oceanic currents, pollutants, and the early life forms of marine organisms that dwell in the plankton, whether they are baby fish or coral larvae.” She also created a unique underwater drifting laboratory that track fish larvae and the signals they emit to find reefs, and she interacts with these research subjects underwater. She discovered that reef fish larvae have such a sensitive sense of smell that they can detect coral reefs located several kilometers offshore and they use this scent to find their way home. She also discovered that these larvae travel in groups and communicate to one another via sound.
Her research serves another important purpose. Using them, scientists can track the behavior of oil and is used to simulate the impact of oil spills and to improve response time to future spills. She has also made important observations about plankton and how they respond to climate change. This is crucial as plankton are the beginning of most marine organisms.
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