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Record-holding American freediver dies after attempting to break another record during Bahamas diving competition

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  • Nick Mevoli, 32, of Brooklyn, New York, had only been competitively diving since last year
  • He was an accomplished diver who had set multiple records
  • His death came while trying to set another record during a Bahamas freediving competition

By Ryan Gorman and Associated Press Reporter

PUBLISHED: 20:16 EST, 17 November 2013 | UPDATED: 20:16 EST, 17 November 2013

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A record-holding American freediver died Sunday afternoon shortly after emerging from the water during a diving tournament in the Bahamas.

Nicholas Mevoli, 32, of Brooklyn, New York, dove to a depth of more than 200 feet and returned to the surface - he soon had trouble breathing, passed out and was soon pronounced dead.

The New York man's identity was first reported by the Long Island (Bahamas) Runner. A blog post written last by Mr Mevoli shows he had barely escaped death at least one other time.

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He died doing what he loved: Nick Mevoli traveled all over the world to compete in diving tournaments

He died doing what he loved: Nick Mevoli traveled all over the world to compete in diving tournaments

The incident happened around 2 p.m. Sunday off the coast of the Bahamas' Long Island, which is about 164 miles (265 kilometers) southeast of the capital of Nassau.

The novice competitive diver had reached a depth of 72 meters, about 236 feet, before attempting to surface, according to a press release from AIDA International.

He was trying to break a record for the deepest 'Constant No Fins' free dive, according to an event organizer.

Mr Mevoli was brought to shore, where doctors tried unsuccessfully to revive him as he was transported to a local hospital.

The television industry veteran was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at the hospital, the release added.

The nine-day International Free Diving Competition Mr Mevoli took part in brings 56 free divers from 21 countries. The divers compete for a $20,000 prize won by the brave soul who can dive the deepest without fins or scuba gear.

Thrillseeker: Mr Mevoli had only been diving competitively since last year, but had once before pushed himself to near-death during a tournament

Novice, but world-class: Mr Mevoli set a handful of records and placed in the top three of multiple tournaments this year, even winning one

Novice, but world-class: Mr Mevoli set a handful of records and placed in the top three of multiple tournaments this year, even winning one

The contest takes place at Dean's Blue Hole, which is considered the world's deepest underwater sinkhole in seawater, the rest of it was cancelled after Mr Mevoli's death.

Mr Mevoli had only been diving competitively since last year, AIDA noted, but had been very successful during his short career.

'Nick was an extraordinary talent, breaking the US constant weight record shortly after beginning competitive freedive in 2012,' the release said.

The talented waterman also placed first at a Deja Blue competition earlier this year in Curacao, as well as took second in competitions in Honduras and Greece, AIDA noted.

He also held a handful of other free-diving records, according to a IFDC organizer.

Paradise shattered: Mr Mevoli's final dive came off this Bahamas coastline

Paradise shattered: Mr Mevoli's final dive came off this Bahamas coastline

He leaves behind a devastated family: Mr Mevoli's step-sister posted this picture to Facebook and thanked people for their condolences

He leaves behind a devastated family: Mr Mevoli's step-sister posted this picture to Facebook and thanked people for their condolences

Friends and family shared their grief over Mr Mevoli's sudden death across social media.

'Shocked and deeply saddened by news of this loss. Nick was a fantastic person who loved life, loved diving, loved people. Rest in peace, Nick,' an acquaintance wrote on Facebook.

'R.I.P. NIC MEVOLI we love you,' tweeted @Vertical_Blue.

'Nick Mevoli, you will be missed friend, comrade, and amazing guy,' @GrantWGraves tweeted.

'As I remember him': A friend posted this picture to Facebook, saying this is how she'd remember Mr Mevoli

'As I remember him': A friend posted this picture to Facebook, saying this is how she'd remember Mr Mevoli

Mr Mevoli's lack of experience almost killed him last year, he wrote a blog post titled 'How I Got to 91 meters.'

After reaching a depth of 88 meters, Mr Mevoli 'felt the effects of nitrogen narcosis at depth and at the same time realized that it was a long way up,' he wrote.

He panicked and raced to the surface, which put him at an even greater risk for death, he soon 'had to be rescued at 28m, nearly 100 feet, blacked out and experienced a major lung squeeze.'

'You can’t lie to water,' Mr Mevoli wrote the episode taught him.

'Never lie to the water because you are only lying to yourself... come to the water willing to be consumed by it but also have confidence that your ability will bring you back.'

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