Aida depth World Championships in Bahamas 2009
Before you read the somewhat dry pressrelase below, lets´sum it up in a more informal, straightforward and critical way.
- We did not see Sara Campbell challenge Natalja in depth.
- Natalja was untouchable in both CWT and CNF - which made the battle for the gold very boring.
- Apart from the obvious two above we did see only two women above 70 meters. Is female freediving lagging behind?
- New Zealander Mullins did not turn up to claim a medal in CWT.
- Stepanek would not enter a world championship side by side with Herbert unless he has time to train, he just showed up and coached his partner Nikki Roderick to a silver in CNF.
- Kathryn McPhee (NZL) could not transfer her poolskills into top level depth achievements.
- Annelie Pompe has not been seen freediving for a year and the wispers of her passing 80 CWT has faded.
- Very ambitious and talented Kerian Hibbs failed just as he did in Aarhus, so much potential, came to nothing in ranking.
- Canadian Jana Strain did not, as we wanted, amaze us in CWT.
- Ryouzo turned early, and the japaneese filmcrew did not show any dissapointment (one does not do that in asia), nor did they seem to bother to turn their cameras to any of the japaneese women doing personal bests and national records.
- Under water channel went bankrupt and the ambitious plans of "daily video online updates" failed.
- Chief organizer forgot his head and the medals and the award ceremony was without medals. Has never happend before, what a scandal.
- No organized way of efficient selling selling mediamaterial to the athletes.
- The smallest WC ever and the most expensive for the athletes.
- Alexey pulling of a PB with 111 CWT getting a silver medal after a sloppy SP.
- The french men in sporty Sony suits, playing the game awfully well and doing very controlled dives.
- A promptly updated site with results and photos.
- A bold CNF 89 meter dive by Herbert not having trained for it (failed surface protocol. Two ok signs).
- That even if Trubridge is better than ever, he is not untouchable.
- More national records than I bother to count (thanks mainly to extra comps on the rest days).
- Less BO´s than expected (8%)
- Lots of professional cameras everywhere.
- Very few discussed judge calls and only two protests.
- The assembly being flexible allowing only three judges which proved enough.
In the classic fin category (CWT) nobody could challenge ruling champion Natalja Molchanova - and as expected Herbert Nitsch took the gold medal.
The drama was around the silver and bronze medals.
Among the women Natalja Molchanova was out of reach for the other women with her 62 meter no fins dive lasting 3.15. Nikki Roderick, New Zealand, claimed silver with a 55 meter dive (coached by her partner the multiple world record holder Martin Stepanek). Jana Strain Canada kept within her limits, not pushing it too far as has happened before, took the Bronze medal with a 54 meter dive coming up with blood from the sinuses.
But no one was as happy as Junko Kitahama finishing 4th with a 52 meter Japanese record (leaving her coach crying happy tears). Junko having progressed nearly 10 meter during the training week preceding the World championship.
For a freediver it is not only a question of being able to equalize and hold your breath for a long time. You must have lungs that can tolerate the depths.
You run the risk of pulmonary edema (among freedivers: Squeeze). lung squeeze is when fluid from the blood goes through the gas barrier (membranes in the alveolis) and get into the lungs. The respiratory system is impaired, you have less uptake of O2. You breath heavy for a long time after the dive, you are very tired and feel weak, there might be gurgling and weezing sound from deep down the throat when you breath out hard. You might cough and spit up traces of blood or pink foam.
During the WC 2009 in Bahamas chief organizer and competition doctor John Fitz Clarke took O2 readings by finger oxymeter from over 50 divers one minute after their dive. The body should be fully oxygenated in the artery system after only a few breaths. In a healthy person the readings should be above 97% saturation, or even a 100%. I (Sebastian) do not believe that bloodshift and vasoconstriction would linger and affect the readings. Since a oxymeter measures the color of the blood, blood is obviously in the finger if you get a reading.
45% of the divers where at 90% or below.
New suits are being tried out, new evaluation of weighting has to be done. Its about finding a peak in performance after months of training aiming for this one (or two) coming dives. And all the time the unspoken question: how much will it take to get into the final, to be among the top 6, that gets a second dive to change final ranking?
Some has arrived with personal goals. Maybe expressed in a general desire to improve and set a competition PB, or be among the ten best. Others want to get as close to a 100 meters, or break that barrier. We have seven athletes here that can dive to 100 meters with a monofin.
There have been some very ambitious athletes arriving early: William Winram, Jana Strain, Herbert Nitsch, Robert King, Johan Dahlstrom, Kerian Hibbs, and of course William Trubridge with the advantage of living here big parts of the year.
In a second wave we saw Guillaume Nery and the other french, Alexey Molchanov and Natalja Molchanova.
The atmosphere around the rope as usual friendly, relaxed with that underlying tension of being part of a group of people doing an adventure sport submerging to extreme depths. Depths that would gather the whole beach to watch some years ago are now done rather nonchalantly. As Christian Maldame pushing for 90+ setting of with only his safety Patrick B aware of the magnitude of the dive. Christian coming up slightly upset that his dive alarm preparing him for mouthfill at 30, beeped at 70.
Other athletes are more secretive about their training. William Winram always setting the rope at 100 (psychological reasons?) turning by feeling or depth alarm. And every day (almost) Trubridges´ dives done with lots of whisperings and hiding of rope markings by his line safety Kerian and morally supporting wife Brittany. We are talking 90´s here I believe.
And day after day Herbert going down to 100 meters and usually pulling himself up, sticking to his strategy of only really pushing it on comp day. Most divers dive according to a 3 days diving and one day of. Guillaume Nery adding a day of after a confusing incident where he pushed himself in a 80+ dive in CNF, doing his inwater O2 deco for seven minutes breathing heavily after the dive - resulting in symptoms resembling DCS, but turning out to be hyperoxia.
Kathryn Mcphee trying to push her squeeze level deeper, Alexey Molchanov training at PB levels in CNF failing once due to too little rest, and then had another BO at a later try. He trains hard just up to the limit of his ability.
You can not get lost on Long island. There is one long paved road going on for hours. And while driving along this road you soon become aware of the many churches: assembly of god, first church of god, church of Christ, seventh day Adventists, Anglican church. One senses some level of competition here as well.
In such a "godfearing" country it seems appropriate that the opening ceremony started with an invocation by Father Ernest Pratt St. Paul’s Anglican Parish.
But for the freedivers it is more like Umberto Pelizzari once said: "I seek god at the bottom of the ocean" (free quote). In this case the bottom of the Deans Blue Hole.
Sebastian Naslund, Chief organizer