more: understanding
the rules






by Sebastian Näslund
It has been said before, and I will say it again.

There needs to be simplicity in the rules! It must be easy for judges to judge and easy for audience and beginners to understand. There must be logic and common sense in the rules (suggestions below). Red cards for things that are not linked to important parts of the achievement MUST GO AWAY. The stance so far has been to slowly educate the body of competing freedivers – it has worked to an extent, but since the rules change (often evolve) it is hard. Educating the audience can only be done to a certain degree.

Do you remember your first comp? Did you understand what was happening around you? Don’t think so. If we cannot make a good understandable show for our own ranks we will not be able to attract a bigger audience outside our ranks. Lets start with a good show for the athletes themselves, for the coaches, for the organization – soon friends and family will start to follow athletes to comps – we will be building an audience and training ourselves in satisfying them. Presenting our sport in an understandable and exiting way!

The above ambition of simplicity in the rules must be balanced against an ambition to keep LMC out of the sport as far as possible.
Since the SP was introduced LMC has entered the sport – big time! Leading figures in our organization have been able to obscure it by missing the opportunity to ask for statistics from our judges. LMC is here and it will be more of it, trust me. Nearly every fifth performance in WC Maribor was a DQ most often due to LMC (messing up SP) or BO.
I have always been against LMC. But now I will say this. It is actually interesting to see an athlete fighting with LMC during the protocol. A close up on big video screen and a commentator and all of a sudden we are a spectator sport.
Fighting the LMC doing the SP is a sportive achievement.

Can we live with every fifth dive being a DQ? I would say yes.

Shall we penalize deep BO not only with RED cards but also with further penalties like banning from next discppline for a period. Yes, maybe a good idea. A way to take a moral stance against BO. But we will miss seeing situations like Nicolas Guerry having a BO in DYN and then claiming a medal in the next discipline the next day. That’s drama.

Are we happy with giving medals to athletes half gone in the head? Looking for their goggles twice? I would say yes.
Having said this – we do not need coward judges hiding behind: “benefit of the doubt” repeated like a mantra.
If there is apparent LMC and no mental presence use every letter of the law to DQ them. Let them protest and lets check the video and have the whole judge groups opinion. Judge error can be corrected in a protest.

The WC finals where filmed by a load of private cameras – we can not hide a judge error any more.
Having said this – judge video becomes more important. In a WC there should be more money spent on videocompetence (which will work hand in hand with producing good material for DVDs and media). Real (sports) cameramen with tripods on elevated places are really good at following and zooming in.

The Maribor set up of cameras was not that expensive, many small simple cameras, cable and a nightclub VJ with small simple monitors – good enough for the on location screen, for the DVDs and for possible internet broadcasting. (and a music DJ).

The underwatercameras where real simple homemade houses with simple cameras in them. There where 4-6 cameras below and above.
A prepared speaker/presenter that has knowledge of rules (and preferably has competed him/herself) is not that hard to find. Some media or acting qualities are useful as well.

Bringing the WC Maribor media concept one step further would consist of:
- A videoscreen producer working with the presenter (having an understanding of the sport and where the drama is in every second).
- Intercomsystem between speaker, screenproducer and the mobile cameras.
- A system of directly knowing the judgedecision. The judgevideopersons can be a link to the speaker – using handsignals. Or if there are resources – a second intercom (earlobe) between the judges and the speaker. Bigger white cards are needed.
Next step is to bring it live online internet. Sound and if possible video.
One important role that WC Maribor lacked was a person involved in choosing and editing the right kind of stills and video to supply to national media AS IT HAPPENS.
In the future it might be possible to hook each athlete up with HR monitor and even oximeter in static (information for the audience only).
Lets not invent the wheel again. In the freediving community we have assembled lots of experience. Unfortunately we do not always use this experience. For the next WC I would suggest that AIDA made it compulsory to use not only local competence but to invite personnel from past WC´s. To mix nationalities and make the organization team work more in English. Its about creating a system of sharing and forwarding experience. Doesn’t take much.
The cheapest way of travel, a bed, food, a t-shirt and a DVD. That might be enough to attract competence.
One or two safetydivers with known competence who knows the perfect positioning (with body and hands) and the exact millisecond when to grab and that understands BTT and just doesn’t attack the athlete with a so called rescuebreath (to overcompensate for being slightly late in reaction).
Someone from past WC´s to be on the organizer team being part of the office work – the resultlisting, the announcing, ceremonies, media, the practical problems e t c


Get rid of record attempts in the competition disciplines. We have good enough comps for this (at least in europe). One man record attempts steal attention from freediving as a sport. The Big blue is a movie – lets grow up and move on.

Get rid of every rule that will make an apparently successful dive a DQ. Find other ways to penalize minor rule violations. Have only a limited amount of violations that stops a NR or a WR. When showing the sport there must be some simple logic regarding the achievements. There can not be red cards for details not linked to the actual dive or enormous penalties for things that realy does not benefit the athlete proportionally.

A think we will see events outside Aida ranking if media really moves in and wants to show our sport. But with just some minor adjustments to the rules they would work much better in front of an audience.

1) No penalties whatsoever for rope/line/edge pulling (above surface)
during starts and finishes.
2) A good 2 meter grab zone above the plate with unlimited pulls within the 2 meters.
3) No Red card for early warm ups - just warnings and or minor point
4) No red card for touching of athletes if there was no benefit (support) for he athlete - if a benefit could be argued then give penalty.
5)No red card for coaches diving down - give penalties.
6) No red card for double dip of head during countdown or even after OT in the deep discplines.

Probably needs some more thought and probably much more that can be simplified. The bottom line should be: Only the athelet himself should be able to cause a total DQ for the dive by failing in an apparant and serious way (BO, several rope pulls, airway dip)

Another thing:
Todays line systems allow quick changes of depth = allow minor changes
to AP inbetween 5 to 3 minutes before start. This will add drama to our sport and more accurate AP's