More on: creating an audience

The official photo gallery

The official homepage

The World Championships in Maribor 2007
Aida individual pool championships (DYN,STA,DNF).

Every second year the world federation of freediving AIDA delivers an individual world championship. 270 performances with athletes from 26 countries were made during four days in Maribor. The organizer was the H2O team led by Sandi Bitenc.The freediving federation AIDA has held three individual championships so far. Maribor was the second pool championship. Old champions held on to their medals, new stars emerged and veterans
were beaten.

What happened - step by step...
So why do someone announce 1 meter? Herbert annonced 1 meter in DNF but gave a DNS after not feeling so well in STA (only doing about 7 min). Lotta Ericson announced STA 1 second in the qualifications, worked well for her, she took a silvermedal in the end.

Why do certain athletes want to go first? They can not handle the stress of knowing how much they have to do to beat the others? Maybe they do not like walking around among all other preparing (maybe nervous) athletes? Or maybe just an idea of competing against themselves, not wanting to look at other peoples results. Per westin (Sweden) announced 1 meter in DYN, started the whole competition by swimming 200 meters, shocked himself and the rest of the DYN men who did DQ and BO (26% fo them) pushing themselves too far. But Per could not focus and repeat his 200 in the finals.
Nervous Elizabeth Kristoffersen (Norway) announced somewhere in the middle did a personal best in DYN qualifications 156, and added 18 meters to her PB in the finals and got silver for 174 meters, also she a bit shocked and could not reload herself for the following discplines.

But the real experienced guys in DYN wait until the end of the startsheet in order to know what it takes to make it to the finals: Carlos Coste (Venezuela), Alexey Molchanov (Russia), Stig Severinsen (Denmark), Henning Larsen (Denmark) and Goran Colak - all in the last heats in the DYN qualifications.

Carlos fails to make it to the finals (does 178 meters), leaves at protest because of having a bad countdown, gets approved and can start in the A-final. Judges solved this very smoothly by approving his dive and make him 9th starter in the A-finals (having him start in the B-finals, counting his dive as in the A-finals).

This years World Championship saw B-finals aswell, giving position 9-16 a chance to rearrange themselves. Once in a final, even with a BO, you still got ranked within the top positions. Last year many athletes in the finals did worse than in Qualification and lost ranking - this year FINALS is a comp in itself and you are
guaranteed 8th place if you make it to A-finals.

The idea with B-finals came from making it a better show for the audience: men and women A and B finals takes slightly more than an hour - just what is needed for a good show.

Ryozo Shimoneda (Japan) and Johannna Nordblad (Finland) both finalist last year did not make it this year. But Ryozo did a good NR with 173 meters. Johanna just lost it and stopped at 75. DYN was a black day for Finland also losing Eero Sooralahti in a SPLMCBO.

We saw two nasty BOs Nicolas Guerry (Switzerland) stopped swimming at 153 meters and had to be picked up. Martin Legat (I think) was gone for a long time after a 135 meter swim, not very well handled by safety.
But this year athletes could DQ themsleves, which made it a very fair competition in comparison to Renens 2005 where athlets where treated differently depending on what judge they got. If you looked shaky (without having broken any Aida rule) you culd still be DQ´d if the safety or the judge decided to have you grabbed.

In the mens DYN A finals we saw two danish and two swedes in the mens final. Here we also found the CMAS DYN World champion Christian Maldame (France) and Karla Fabrio (Croatia) CMAS world Champion made it to gthe womens A-final.
Last years winner and 2nd - Natalja Molchanov (Russia) and Stig Severinsen made 156 and 200 in the qualiofications look easy. Natalja is known for being strategic not overdoing it in qualification. While others were breathing up, Natalia was fidling around with her fin at 30 secs. At 20 secs she was looking for her noseclip (which nearly fell of the edge).

Many new names in the women final - Alena CZ, Karla Cro, jarmilla CZ. And nice to see an old veteran like Jean-Pol Francois (Belgium) turning up with his whole family and setting a BE record 154 meters. It is still possible to progress and do PB´s still after 12 years in competetive freediving.
As a videofilmer I find it quite disturbing the constant (more or less) bad qualities of the judge videos year after year (someones kid sister ususally put on the task). OK I am exagerating. I understand - there are no resources to find someone who UNDERSTANDS freediving and handle a camera under tricky circumstances. What we want is a shoot At a low level, Zooming in just enough and keeping it steady until white card.

Only one videocheck was needed this DYN - but the video was all over the place. Finnish Lauri surfaced back to judge, turned and faced the judge doing Ok sign and then turned his back again to the judge. SP looked OK, but turning the back towards the judge twice during SP is a violation and the camera revealed a mouth under the surface. 50 euro lost and a place in the finals.

The men has become 14% better this year. It took 179 to get to the finals (last year 153). The women have moved from 124 to 150, an increase of 17%. Only 3 women got DQ, while 16 of the men (mostly LMC/BO). Setting the mens DQ "performance" to an all time high at 26%.

DQ risen from Renens to Maribor from 11% to 18% in the qualifications.

To create a good social atmposphere its good to have everybody staying at the same place (preferably at low cost). The Drava dormitorys made us feel like we where back at school, but it was reasonably cheap, single room options and there was room for everyone, internet, and walking distance to the pool. The pool, with some minor adjustment were perfect. 25 and 50 meter. The organizer Sandi Bitenc and his crew hade made good holdings for the start and specially made tables for the STA. The pool had a steady 2 meter depth. This comp also saw a lot of personel focus on the task at hand (no ask me T-shirts). A lot of assistants are needed: 40 MiniDV tapes of judge videos filmed, time keepers timed 700 minutes. Nearly 300 performances were dealt with during four days.

The updates and results where quickly out there on internet and for all the organization. Important details like food and drinks for the crew where handled professionally.

"It´s actually fun to judge" Ute Guessman told me.

It seems like smaller countries are able to "give more". It seems like tourism and town management are proud to be able to attract a World Championship and it seems like Sandi actually had some good money sponsores.

This year we saw big videoscreens with material from both under and above water handled by a VJ, there was also music and a live presenter (myself).

The food included in the dormitory stay was not realy optimal for freedivers. A slab of meat (eat it and shut up boy school - kind of feeling. But the there was shops and lots of cheap restaurants.

At times I did not feel that the music in the loudspeakers at the comp had the right kind of feeling. We are not snowboarders and eurodisco is not really helpful in warm-up. But as soon as we got the meditation and lowbeat filmmusic the swimming hall felt more like tuned in.
One could also comment that it takes quite a lot of finetuning to be a good safetydiver. One must know the rules. Half a second after the athletes has DQ´d himself one must be there with a suporting hand. To know when to move in as it happens. The blacked out athlete is not really helped by a safetydiver trying to overcompensate late action by attacking the athlete with rescuebreaths. It is my belief that there is to much talk of rescue breaths - it just makes the dive buddy feel like an action hero - but does little for the freediver. BTT with increasing intensity is what is needed the first 30 second. A rescue breath will never open up a laryngospasm only the subconcius of the blackout diver itself can make that decision and that will happen when the subconcious feels safe and know that there is air around.

The finals in DYN
The finals last night was probably the most Competitionlike thing our community has delivered when it comes to audience appeal. Lots of people in the audience stand: full screen video, music, journalists (mostly slovenian, russian and japaneese), interviews with winners on the screen, speakers in several langaguages.
And the actual organization functioned close to perfect: impressive seeing 16 safetydivers all on standby in neat lines in the water as the persentation of the athletes in the finals was out in the loudspeakers and on screen.

Finals consisted of 8 starts at the same time. Judging 8 lanes is tricky - but it works. Its all about the athletes: "making it easy for the judges to judge them".

Luka Pengov from Slo won the B-finals and took 9th position overal. Ryozo second in the heat claiming 10th position overall. Lotta could not repeat 150 NR and PB.

Mens DYN final was dramatic. Mitja Stampfer (Slovenia) seting of like a rocket finishing at 175. Stig and Alexey side by side both turning at 200. Stig slowing down seeing Alexey coming up at 213 Stig up right after 216. Henning still in the water slow slow coming up at third postion. As Alexey gets white card, Stig is still breathing. Henning is fighting with an LMC - doing two removals of goggles but in the right order in the end. White card.

Winram finishes clean on 203 and protests Hennings dive claiming airways below water and post BO movements. Judging Henning was one of the least experienced judges in the team: Melita CRO. Standing beside her seeing Henning I knew it was going to be an agonizing task. In my opinion she should have given RED and let Henning protest in order to see the video. Winrams coach means Winram did a STRONG dive of 203 and think he deserves a third place. Does not want to see the bronze medal go because of a judge error. And it all comes down to the video. If the video is good I think Protest will be accepted, if the video is bad Henning will get benefit of doubt. Hopefully this will not come down to the competence of the videographer. Protest goes through and still stands after Henning protesting back. Winram is bronze medalist.

Women DYN finals saw some drama too. Natalia winning as expected but Alena closing in on 200 meters but blacking out at 195 meters.

01 Stig Severinsen DK 216m
02 Alexey Molchanov RU 213m
03 William Winram CA 203m
01 Natalia Molchanova RU 205m
02 Elisabeth Kristoffersen NO 174m
03 Karla Fabrio HR 169m

With6.25 i qualification former World record holder (6.31) Lotta Ericson (Sweden) is back in business. Elizabeth joined her in the final with 5.52.
Russian Natalie Aschenko (PB 7 min) is unfortunatly out of the final . As is William Winram (Canada) (6.35). Christian Maldame was ok at 7.10 but had a BO at 7.25.

Making babies is not good for freediving. Johanna Nordblad last years finalist and medalist is out of Sta and Dyn finals - Training has been sacrificed for being a mother. Karla and Phoebe Skotida (greece) set national records and made it to the final. Antero Joki FIN 6.59 - was just enough for the final. Quite surpisingly Timo kinnunen (Finland), one of the best, did not make it to the final. For a moment I thought Natalja made a misstake with 5.32 in STA qual, but I guess she knew exactly what she was doing.
The big question in STA finals is if Stig can do something about a well rested
Herbert (mostly walking around smiling). The mens third place is the most interesting today, as is the females second place: can Lotta deliver again (earpain) or will our new star Elizabeth make yet another great leap in PB. Turned out these specualtions were mostly wrong. Strange things was about to happen.

Old Deron still going strong 7.02 winner of B finals, 9th postion repeating his achievement from Renens, more or less. He waited out the greek Alexis at 7 min.

The women A finals became intresting All but two women poping up before 6 minutes. Jessica Wilson USA at 6 sharp finishing third. Natalia fighting hands on ledge, feet down already at six minutes. But Lotta Ericson still lying cool, not moving (Lotta set her mind to do minimum 3 min contractions) - ending up adding 20 secs to her old WR PB coming up at 6.49. Natalia fooling us all with her fighting, just contuning fighting like another day at the office. 8 minutes WR. She has set WR everytime she enters water in all world championships.

I had been (as a speaker) favourizing HJerbert and Stig and expecting a good performance from Ryouza. But I was sooo wrong.

Men sta finals.
William and Alexey bailing out saving themselves for DNF. Carlos was still doing warm up breathhold on the other side of the pool at start of countdown (missunderstanding of toptime) - bailed out at about 3 min (his coach and partner Gaby said he was not strong that day anyhow). The well rested Herbert did not find the feelgoodfactor - stopped at 7.03. Stig feeling weak on purpose failing SP before 7 minutes. Then mens heads poping up everywhere: Ales (Slovenia) at 7 minutes, Ryozo at 7.03. Left in the pool: all NEW NAMES. Peter Boivie (Sweden) adding to NR and PB 7.10 finishing 3rd. Tomek Bryl (Poland) finishing 2nd 7.15. And at the end of the pool Nicolas Guerry (SUI) 7.34. Gold medal.

Freediving and most of all static is a mystery today solved by three very surprised athletes.

Statics (STA)
01 Nicolas Guerry CH 7'34''
02 Tomek Bryl PL 7'15''
03 Peter Boivie SE 7'10''
01 Natalia Molchanova RU 8'00''
02 Lotta Ericson SE 6'49''
03 Jessica Wilson US 6'00''

Last year 114 was needed for the mens A finals. This year 132 meters was needed. Alexey took the last position. Biggest surprise Nazoki JP 143 meters in the qualification. Three Slovenians nearly made it to the A final (Both jures´ and Mitja who had something close to a BO in the qualifications).

Stig looked strong at 153 meters in the qualifications. Henning and William around 140. Henning pushing himself, somewhat easier for William. Zajac and Swedish Larsson at 134 both - these were the finalists. William and Stig the strongest.

Women have improved immensly, while men are BOing right and left. Women usually come up on the right side of LMC (same as in DYN).

112 meters was needed for the women A-finals this year. Junko Kitama (Japan) improving a lot setting PB NR with 112. Johanna shaping up in the last discipline ready to defend her 2nd position from last year. Alena (DYN BO 195) now 116 DNF joining Karla and Jarmilla in the A final. Lidijc 119 and Eva 116 makes up the eight. Oh and of course Natalja with an easy 117.

But after the qualifications the danes protest Lidija Lijic 119 meters. Claims it was post BO (Bill Strömberg judging). The protest goes through (They watch the video, have the athletes comment and all the judges vote - I doubt Bill fought for his first ruling). This means danish Maria Livberg 110 meters is in the A finals.

This is quite a new thing with athletes protesting each other. They feel very bad about it, both William and Maria but they claim they do not want to be beaten by another athlete with a "bad" dive. I think its a good thing sometimes judges are very unsure and give benefit of doubt - with a protest they (and the whole judge group) gets a second chance to correct a misstake - or not.

By the poolside we found Bogdan from Waterway letting anyone having a go with the mono glidefins. He oints out that the following athletes in the A finals swims with glidefins : Maldame, Lauri, Mitja, Carlos, Weine and maybe more. His advice in general is to never buy a fin you have not swam with.

In the B-finals Maldame being strong with 150 meters gives him 9th position. Young Adam Fizil (hungary) is the 10th best DNF swimmer. Many strong PB dives above 125.

Women DNF final saw Wilson USA BO at PB length. Barbara (Croatia) 120 meters, Andrea (Slovakia) 110 meters and Olga (Russia) 106 meters. Lotta LMC SP at 106 meters. Alena Zabloudilova (check) (DYN BO at 195) silvermedalist in DNF looking strong. Karla Fabrio (Croatia) and Johanna Nordblad doing 125, but Karla with better AP winning the bronze. Natalia winning with an easy 149 meters.

The men more dramatic.
William pushing it, but Stig starting later on purpose, being behind him when William went up before 175. Stig
continuing, turning at 175, aiming for WR (he had no mark in the pool). Doing good SP, waiting for the card not knowing the distance, looking right and left trying to estimate. Menawhile Winram gets red card - when he fights an LMC and goes under. Stig staring down his judge and the presenter - how far - is it a WR? Bill says 186. Its a WR. Second place decided by who had most accurate AP. Tominaga (Japan) and Alexey doing 157 both. But Tominaga only 105AP thus making him third.

But the drama continues
Several people saw Stig pull at the line before surfacing. Timo Jattu (also danish) protested. Judges accepth the portest: -10 points for pulling and no WR. Stig still wins and get gold medal.
Now the protest is protested. Stig says: I did not pull, I glided (held) my hand on the line waiting for the airways to surface. Apparantly the line did not react to Stigs hand and weight - therefore he did not pull himself up - as in CWT - ok to glide the rope but not pull. And also Stigs let out a lot of air (bubbles) so its hard to EXACTLY
see when the airways surface. Stigs protest is accepted. He is World Record holder (again).

Dynamics without fins (DNF)
01 Stig Severinsen DK 186m
02 Alexey Molchanov RU 157m
03 Naoyuki Tominaga JP 157m

01 Natalia Molchanova RU 149m
02 Alena Zabloudilova CZ 133m
03 Karla Fabrio HR 125m

This World championship in the pool disciplines was dominated by the Danish claiming 9 places in the A-finals. After them Russia Sweden and Check republic with 6, 5 and 4 places. The championship was among the athletes considered as one of the most well organized thanks to the ambitions of Sandi Bitenc and his H2O team. One appreciated detail was the over and underwater video shown on screens and the live commentating.

If using Billpoints on the countries (1st place 15p - 2nd place 13p - 3rd place 11p - 4th place 9p - 5th place 8p - etc ..down to 12th place 1p):
Denmark 81p
Russia 80p
Sweden 41p
Croatia 39p
Czech Reublic 34p
Japan 32p
Switzerland 24p
Slovenia 21p
Finland 20p
Norway 19p
Canada 16p
USA 15p
Poland 14p
Slovakia 13p
France 12p
Greece 11p
Austria 9p
Venezuela 9p
New Zeeland 7p
United Kingdom 3p
Hungary 3p
Germany 1p


Dynamic men
1st - Stig Severinsen (DK) 216 meters
2nd – Alexey Molchanov (RU) 213 meters
3rd – William Winram (CA) 203 meters
(the last two national records)

Dynamic women
1st – Natalia Molchanva (RU) 205
2nd – Elisabeth Kristoffersen (NO) 174
3rd- Karla Rabrio (CRO) 169
(The last two national records)

Static men
1st – Nicolas Guerry (CZ) 7.34
2nd – Tomek Bryl (PL) 7.15
3rd – Peter Boivie (SWE) 7.10
(all new national records)

Static women
1st – Natalia Molchanova (RU) 8.00
2nd – Lotta Ericson (SWE) 6.49
3rd – Jessica Wilson (USA) 6.00
(all national records and a world record)

1st - Stig Severinsen (DK) 186 meters
2nd – Alexey Molchanov (RU) 157 meters
3rd – Naozuki Tominaga (JP)157 meters
(all national records and a world record)

Dynamic no fins women
1st – Natalia Molchanova (RU) 149 meters
2nd – Alena Zabloudilova (CZ) 133 meters
3rd – Karla Fabrio (CRO) 125 meters
(all national records and a world record)

Data from the performances

Since the last Pool championship in Renens (Switzerland) the athletes performances have improved. To claim one of the eight places in the final the demands have increased as follows:

STA MEN: 6.45 to 7 min sharp
STA WOMEN: 5.24 remaining on the same level

DYN MEN: 153 to 178 meters
DYN WOMEN: 124 to 153 meters

DNF MEN: 114 to 134 meters
DNF WOMEN: 87 to 110 meters

The number of failed performances since the last championship has increased, specially among the men. In Renens 2005 11% was (DQ) disqualifications. Usually for failing control (surface protocol) after the dive, in some cases lack of motor control and short blackouts (No injuries has ever happened so far in competitive freediving). In Maribor 18% of all qualification dives led to disqualification.

Since the last championships the rules have evolved and less judge rulings are under discussion. In the Maribor championships 270 performances only led to two serious protests that changed initial ruling.

These were the judges:
- Marcello de Matteis, ITA, Judge A
- Bill Strömberg, SWE, Judge A
- Grant W. Graves, USA, Judge A
- Ute Geßmann, GER, Judge C
- Kimmo Lahtinen, FIN, Judge E
- Melita Adany, CRO, Judge E
- Jorg Jansen, NED, Judge C
- Jonas Andersson, SWE, judge B
Judge President was be Bill Strömberg, and VP Grant Graves.

Last years result:

Dynamic Apnea, WOMEN
Natalia Molchanova, Russia, 178m - WR

Dynamic Apnea, no fins, WOMEN
Natalia Molchanova, Russia, 124m - WR

Static Apnea, WOMEN
Natalia Molchanova, Russia, 7'16" - WR

Dynamic Apnea, MEN
Tom Sietas, Germany, 208m

Dynamic Apnea, no fins, MEN
Stig Aavall Severinsen, Denmark, 165m

Static Apnea, MEN
Sam Still, United Kingdom, 8'14"