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Free Diving - Tanya Streeter

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Mermaids may not be real but it certainly seems that Tanya Streeter is part fish, part human. How else can you explain Tanya's ability to dive more than 350 feet (110m) underwater with just a single breath? She truly is a freak of nature.

Tanya grew up in the Cayman Islands in the Caribbean so she's always felt comfortable around water. When she was a kid she was always known as the girl who could duck-dive for the deepest sea shells - but she never figured she would be able to dive deeper than anyone else in the world.

She only learned exactly how good a diver she was in 1997 when she attended an introductory class on free-diving with a couple of guy friends. Tanya was the only female in the class and no one wanted to dive with her at first because she was a girl. But she surprised her teachers and everyone else in the class when they saw how long Tanya was able to stay underwater. Her teachers immediately offered to coach her and within months Tanya was breaking all kinds of world records.

In 1998, Tanya set the World No Limits Record when she dove 370 feet (113m) while off the coast of the Cayman Islands. No limits free-diving has the diver sliding down a cable on a weighted sled then using air-assistance to get back to the surface. That same year, Tanya set the world record for free-diving using just fins by going 230 feet (70m) in the waters off the French West Indies. It was the first time a woman had set a world record in this category.

To prepare for these amazing dives, Tanya has a pretty crazy training schedule. She runs or rides the bike for two hours a day and spends three hours a day practicing dives or swimming laps while holding her breath. Tanya can float underwater on a single breath for nearly six minutes! There are tremendous risks to going as deep as Tanya does. During the 1998 World Free-diving Cup, 14 people had to be rescued because of blackouts caused by their brains not getting enough oxygen.

Tanya is also a big friend to all the other animals she meets hundreds of feet below the surface of the ocean. She works with several conservation groups including The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society to protect marine wildlife around the world. Since Tanya seems to be part marine mammal herself, that just makes sense.

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