Report from the freediving worldcup
Hawaii 28 october - 4 november 2002
text: Sebastian Naslund (swedish journalist)

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 After the first of two days constant weight competing three groups have been formed. It looks like FRANCE is in the lead as expected. VENEZUELA is close by after. After that we see CZECH, USA and SWEDEN, with SWEDEN being the only team of the three having had all their divers diving on the first day. SWEDEN is a mixed team, as is RUSSIA and BRAZIL. Caroline of BRAZIL unfortunately had a BO near the surface after trying 51 meters. Also MONACO lost one guy to a Samba. As did SPAIN - but all has to be confirmed.

Extra: Monaco protests their short warm up time (28 minutes) and gets an extra chance tomorrow.

In the second group, we see AUSTRALIA, BELGIUM, CANADA, JAPAN, GERMANY, and UK, with anyone of these being able to attain 6th place or more if any one in the first group is DQ.

SWEDEN has more points than USA currently BUT USA has two very strong breath holders (Deron / Scott). Sweden will have to fight to keep their lead for the 3rd place. Also, the CZECH can attain 3rd place if Stepanek does a really good breath hold.

Stig of DENMARK tried for 70 but turned at about 56. Stepanek (CZECH) did 70 meters with small silly rubber fins. The JAPANESE female diver Saya did not pull the tag so she swam up with the small metal ring attached all the way up, the ring still on the rope. Another feat was SWEDISH Lotta losing her weight belt on the way down (unsnapped on the rope) catched it, retrieved the tag, put the weight belt on her shoulder and swam up, 55 meters. The dive still waits to be accepted by the judges.

Anything can happen, as we know in freediving competitions.

Taking a look at the women, we see that Mandy of CANADA is the deepest woman with 65 meters. FRANCE lost some points when Benegas turned at about 45 instead of 52. This means USA females can catch up a little with the FRENCH women. Tanya of USA has not been able to train lately and will dive shallower than 50 meters.

 Nery protests rope violation but protest is rejected. A 70 meter dive is simple for him and he took the opportunity to show this to the bottom camera at depth. While gesturing at the camera his hands moves up and down the rope.

 Bill protests accusation of rope violation claiming he might have changed grip but is was done as it says in the english rules "on the same resting point". His protest comes thrue.  
 That’s what I would say if I were the organizer. Arranging constant weight competitions are always tricky dealing with boats and weather. Weather was perfect on the last day of constant in Hawaii. Kealakekua bay was smooth and welcoming. Slightly less visibility today but yet some 20-25 vis.

Last day of competition left me somewhat sad. Seeing the young Nery of FRANCE being judged DQ after playing around at the bottom not being in control of his hands resting points. Does not seem like a clear double grip but enough for a DQ apparently.
SWEDEN’S Bill had his protest approved probably because his intentions was clear at the bottom to retrieve the tag without any delay. He moved his hand but on "the same resting point" which is OK in the English translation of the rules.

Venezuela    195
Sweden    180
USA    168
Czech    165
UK    160
Monaco    157
Japan    154
Australia    151
Germany    150
Belgium    150
Canada    147
France    146
Switzerland    128
South Africa    126
Denmark    126
Portugal    100
Russia    75
Spain    72
Brazil    42

USA    151
France    146
Japan    143
Australia    116
UK    112
South Africa    111
Canada    110
Belgium    34

Out of 84 performances 8 have been DQ.
3 BO, 2 LMC and 3 other.
It seems like freediving has matured. The athletes are behaving better and are mostly diving within their limits. Compaired to the "Red Sea Dive Off" some years ago when every second athlete seemed to come up with some kind of problem, this year's competition has been very controlled. I don't think the 70-meter limit has improved freediver safety in any significant maner. There are still lots of divers that can dive above their limits and put themeselves at risk of hypoxia, but as I said this competition has seen very convincing diving. Performances like these will hopefully show the public that this is in fact a very safe sport - and also make events easier to insure.

Having an experienced freediver as Frederic B in the jury seems to be appreciated among the freedivers. The judging this year is out of my point of view much more convincing - partly because the athletes are complying with the rules better and also because the new "20 second" rule works well. It seems to give the athletes time to recover and the act of removing the mask is tricky to do in a controled maner if you suffer LMC.  There has also been a live bottom camera with clear pictures so the judges can watch recordings.

There have though been some problems in interpreting the rules. There is a semantic discrepancy between the French and the English translation of the AIDA rules. This is why some athletes have had their protests come through to their favor.

I missed the point of stressing the fact that Mandy C (CANADA) has made the deepest female dive ever done in a competition (65m). She has, as we know, had the advantage of beeing coached by Kirk K.  Other teams are not so fortunate as the German team, who has Herbert N as their coach. He is mostly of trying some new monofin, or playing around with a camera, or experimenting with his new goggles with a small pipe down to his mouth. Today at static training he kept the freezing German team to stay in the pool while he was doing some 7+ minute breathholds. Maybe he was trying to show his team how it should be done. (Since irony isn't so apparent in e-mails I have to point out that what I just wrote had some of it).

Two of the athletes were DQ because the coaches touched the athletes after the performance. Seems like a very silly sport where good performances render 0 points because of details like that. But on the other hand rules are clear - and it could have been easy to follow them.
"We have nothing to hide" the headjudge Frederic B said yesterday refering to videos of DQ dives - implying that AIDA will try to have them publicly shown.

Today, Aida gathered to an informal meeting to discuss the future. Aida representatives will surely summarize the discussions and present them to Aida members. The meeting touched, among other things, upon rules and how they could be improved.

A local research team has done ultrasound tests on the heart of some breathholding freedivers. Lynn from Australia has continuosly done memory tests with freedivers directly after their dives, looking for how hypoxia might impare their performances.  Peter L from Sweden has taken DNA samples from some 50 athletes looking for that very special freediving gene.

I have done an informal study that shows that more than 80% of the athletes use airpacking.  This technique is said to have been discovered by Bob Croft who had some worldrecords back in the old days when Mayol was still competing.  I spoke to Bob for some minutes and the airpacking thing was something he played around with when he was eleven.  Just a funny way to
fill his lungs with air.  Later, during his work in the Navy as a diver this technique came in handy. 


 Report from last world championship