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

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Big island, the biggest of all the Hawaii islands is situated in the pacific ocean.
20 countries from all over the world were gathered here for a team competition in freediving.

Teams of three, compeeting in two categories.
1) Constant weight = swim with fins as deep as you can, grab a tag, come up, smile, show it to the judges. One point per meter down.
2) Static apnea = hold your breath in a pool motionless as long as you can. Half a point for every three seconds.
All points are added together.

Disqualification occurs if failing to remove mask and do OK sign withing 20 seconds upon surfacing. You also have to be in control of muscles and movements up to one minute after a dive. No involontary movements. It is up to the athlete to prove his condition to the judges. No loss of motor control (also called samba)
 Diving will be done from a katamaran in the Kealakekua bay below Captain Cook
I am trying not to be biased but I must say that so far the most ambitious team around seems to be the Swedes. Some guy from Morocco just stared at one of the Swedes when she explained that they went straight from the plane after a 28-hour journey into the pool and did static training. And she, Lotta did some 6 minutes. He seemed to be alarmed by the fact that she claimed that all freediving is best done on an empty stomach - we could see he didn't fancy that.

Out at the buoy this morning one of the Swedes added 7 meters to his personal best but blacked out shortly at the surface. His goal depth one year ago was 50, the depth he tried this morning was 67 meters. Freediving is progressing alarmingly fast. Soon we might have to remove the fins in order to have depths where safety can be secured in competitions. Or what about this idea: the athletes reaching max depth can add points back on the surface by holding their breath just like a static. Safer isn't it.

Nordic free divers seem to go crazy in this warm clear water. Every single one has done several personal best during the last week. Myself I am only here to film and report but I tried to add ten meters to my 53 meter PB but, guess what, it is very deep to swim up from 63 - I had to pull myself up half way. We dive with a safety diver carrying a spare air bottle. I was very close to asking for some sweet air at about 20 meters below the surface. Thanks to the line I made it clean to the surface.

When the Swedes ended their training the US team arrived out at the buoy. Deron of the US team was busy in the pool thought, holding his breath over 7 minutes, how much more he wouldn’t say - but I guess he would like to take back the US record, which I believe he lost recently. Shortly after that Kirk and I guess it was Mandy behind the mask, came swimming. Honaunau bay is a lovely place to train in. The French team registered today and I don't think any other team can compete with them if they keep cool. As I know these guys will all touch bottom at 70 meters and they are not bad at holding their breath either. Could the Venezuelans challenge them? They "sambad" out at Ibiza last year. Belgians cannot either challenge the French I guess since Musimu is busy preparing another world record. And Fred is in the jury. Germans? But Hubert the breathholdmachine is not here.

As you all know there will be no world records in depth this world cup. You cannot even take first place in the overall yearly ranking since an earlier AIDA comp in Austria had unlimited depth and if I remember correctly Herbert dove 75 there (check 70 meters is well enough for most teams, but there doesn’t seem to be any plans to have official training lines deeper than 70 meters. I guess if you plan to do 70 in the comp you would appreciate doing a training dive to 73-74. Well see...

The reasons for limiting the depth I have heard are insurance reasons. Even though every contestant has to sign the longest "waiver" I have seen there still has to be overall insurance apparently (we Europeans are not so eager to sew each other, so we don’t get this fully).

The athletes seem to be very happy when seeing their rooms at the hotel right at the beach, their flags are already starting to fly from their balconies. The athletes have 10 different restaurants to choose from in the area all for a fee of 1100 US dollars. Tomorrow will start with a captains meeting and a beach party. Competition is planned to be held from a catamaran right outside the Kealakekua Bay. One competition line and four training lines. Over 30 freediving safety divers have been "trained" by Brett Le Master.

Japan is here with a flock of cameras in their tow. One japaneese diver (Saya) apparently is an actress and has recently set a new womans record.
It is nice to see that there are real amateurs coming. Canada put togehether a womens team in the last second. One of them more or less did her first dive yesterday to 10 meters. What a great experience that must be to take part in a competition like this... fighting your way down, turning to equalise, and then head down a couple of meters more. Same thing with the Asutralian womens team. Seeing depths of 15 meters gives the public a chance to identify with the sport.

Many countries seem to aim ahead on the frediving championships next year. Many of the best athletes has stayed at home. Fredric Buyle (BELG) is a referee. Nietsch (AUSTER) registered to late and is here only to coach the germans. Patrick M (BELG) is preparing a record of by his own. The monster breatholder Hubert M (GER) is not here. Kirk (CAN) is coaching his team.
And of course the Italians. A pity not seeing them here. And me personally I would have liked to see some FREE divers here (regardless what they think of the rules). AIDA judging are improving and the new 20 second rule is a small move towards FREE and IAFD rules. It gives the athletes 10-15 seconds to recover before showing OK signs and removing mask. Hopefully this years 5 judges will make freediving judging less like soccer where its just one mans call.

If one would make a comunication flow diagram all arrows seem to point in towards one man: Glennon Gingo. No doubt he has worked hard the last year. And he runs a very happy ship. Everything runs according to schedule so far. He seems to have good back up from the local societies, companies and authoroties.

A lot of effort have been put on making this more than a competition. There will be film and lectures every day. Bob Croft, the old No limits record holder is hear to speak about his dives "inbetween" Enzo and Jaques. Three apnea scientist are here to lecture and answer questions. Two of them are already making simplier tests on some athletes

(this link could be of interest:

Oceanmen will be viewed. Bob Talbot is here to film and talk. An old japaneese Ama woman has been brought here along with a photo exhibition of the amas oyster collecting.

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Report from last world championship