6th AIDA Team World Championship 2008
Sharm el Sheik, Egypten

- a summary by Sebastian Naslund

First deepdiving day
Flags hanging from the balconies at Apnea Academy Sharm Club. Many old faces. Many faces that has been around for some seven years now (since the first Ibiza 2001 WC).

Photo: Annelie Pompe
of Johan Dahlstrom 85 meters NR
But new this year are the New Zealanders. A team full of stars: Trubridge, Williams, Mullins. But the expected goldwinners from NZ meet some problem already on the first day. Trubridge used a lot of grabs while down at 90 meters and got penalties, -30 points. Mullins is not fond of Static (rumour says) and Trubridge is not known for exelling in the dynamic. Instead Greece has emerged as a topcandidate with 90,90,100 dives. Manolis is back after som years in the army.
Six guys over 100 meters, tomorrow Juraj,
Bogdan here with his fins, discussing stiffness with the greek who seem to go for soft. Stepanek is trying out the glidefin, but sticks to his straight model 1 mono.

Five protests, one went through: an LMC mouthdip that got benefit of doubt since the athlete was turned away from the camera. Stig S (den) did not fail to mention this at captains meeting. Advice: turn away and get benefit of doubt.

Deepest divers
The Czeck are the worlds deepest nation. Put female and male points together and they are the best.
Followed by Sweden and Russia. Violant waves rooking the plattforms, tossing the freedivers (and the crew) back and forth. Minutes after the last diver the doctor/crew boat lost anchorgrip and ripped the plattforms along. Hot hot hot but the wind kept us somewhat cool. Many freedivers dove without suits and in "swimsuits".

Total 29 teams, some 80 athletes, nearly 240 performances (as many as Nordic Deep ;-). A small WC. Still the record from Ibiza has not been broken, probably because there was no fee on that WC. Frederico (ITA) added 1 metre to the national record and did a clean 90 dive. Johan D (swe) put one meter onto his own NR 84. Juraj looked strong until five meters from the surface when he tilted his head and looked longingly towards the light. Missed to grab the line and fell back with a BO. Slovakia is out of the top five. Mullins turned, as did Ryozo. Ant grabbed, as did Alexey. Notorius safetydivers had to nag at the audience to get back.

The "only-one"/ AA team are getting good at this. Freediving is evolving. Judges in sportive yellow rashguards. All safetydivers marked in rashguards guarding each warmup line. The organization has proposed to do more WC´s but RUMOR has it that Japan might be next (2010). If that is not well sponsored it might be as in Canada 2003 where very few teams showed up. Japan is a long way away for most of us.

1. Fra 260
2. Greece 257
3. CZ 247
4. Swe 226
5. NZ 206 (Trubridge lost some 30 pts).
6. Fin 193

Jessica Wilson (US) turned two meters from the plate at 60 and saved her ears, Swedish Weine got broken eardrum at 40, but got the tag from 72 anyhow. Nathalie A (Rus) came up disoriented with LMC and failed proper SP got red card. Protested and later somewhere on a video some kind of OK sign was seen = white card.

1. Russia 205
2. Japan 183
3. Usa 171
4. Can 163
5. Swe 160.

Last years silvermedalist Sweden has had some problem. Lotta allergic to deep diving. Annelie nearly breaking her foot a week before and Isabelle not having trained any freediving for two years.

Photo: Kimmo Lahtinen

Yesterday I joined the miserable crowd of protesters. Tears and despair (yes actually both). A russian, a french, a New Zealander, A brittish and a swede (that I was teamcaptaining) - all feeling that we had been misjudged. In my case, me personaly I did not know what happened down there in the depth - I never trust any freediver when they speak about what happened or did not happen during a dive.
A good dive always involves a certain detachment. But I was there helping my athlete to protest a grab. And was prepared to give her the best defence possible. I call the protest crowd miserable since obviously they have not done their dives clear enough for the judges to judge.
Two hours we wait: a crying russian comes out smiling, a surface grabbing brit a bit sadfaced, a kiwi guy who just paid to see the bottom camera and is still not sure there was a grab at the bottom.
The french athlete makes the movement of a firing gun in the back of her coach, which I guess means the protest did not go through.

My athelete is charged with grabbing. There is no official video of the happening. But the judge who in this case chose to swim down after her down claims to have seen a grab, and rumour has it when he makes a claim he is sure.

We are informed that we are allowed to show private videos that can support our claim. I repeat: ONE CAN SHOW ONES OWN VIDEO TO THE PROTESTJURY!
This was a no-no in Maribor about this, but now it is allowed,and I hope you realize the consequences of this.

Stig Severinsen, danish coach filming all dives by the line, offered to give us the tape of what he filmed so we are comfortably seated with the judges and start watching a video none of us has seen.
And oops there is an arm movement just a long the line, one arm goes up to the nose. Was it a grab - I look at my athlete in a "did you see that" way. And just when she covers the line with her body there is a jolt with the elbow as if there is a grab somewhere there and the arm is pushed up. I start saying in swedish to her: if you cant explain in a very good way what that arm is doing, we loose 50 euro. With a lot of words she gives an explaination which I translate and narrow down to what I feel are the essentials.

Her gliding hand catches up with the carabiner and the lanyard line and with swift movement she tries to entangle hers self and have the hand gliding free on the line again.

We are shown out while the judges talk. I feel that the only way this explanation will fly is if the diving judge actually remembers the dive and the movement and realizes that he saw wrong. Protest went through. Swedish ladies are side by side with the canadians.

Team Static Relay
I can happily announce that the Czeck male and female team in Team relay static LOST. The worlds at the moment deepest divers did not have much to offer.
Good, that makes it more fun for the rest of us in the upcoming static discipline :-). Swiss team with current Static world champion Nicolas joined in (although reluctant at first). Germans gave a good show, although disturbed by the Czeck ladies trying to blow bubble rings in Richard Wonkas face.

Team relay static accepts these kind of strategies.
Swiss finished third. Slovakia second (with Juraj doing a good long static) even though the Czeck ladies again gave their "lost half" nation a tough time.
Since verbal abuse is allowed, even from the judges, I reminded Juraj loudly during his static about his failed 100 meter dive. Most jokes from the competitors eventually turned into something of sexual nature.
And winner team Finland finishing with world class breathholder Timo had to take a lot of heat. In the end around 15 minutes total Sta time the "no touch" rule was suspended and Timo had to hold his breath with people sitting on him. Well actually riding him :-) Static pool 35 degrees during day time. Lower during night. Static starts 6 pm.

Of course it´s a form of vanity. The urge to beat others. To compare and come out looking good. I ask the scientist what breath hold times the other "subjects"has been able to perform. Why would I like to know? Because it would give me some satisfaction doing something special, above the rest. Part of me wish I wouldn´t care, but fact is, I apparantly do.
Erika Shagatay in charge of the spleen, glucose, HB tests declines to answer, she can not say any thing about the others "subjects".

I am lying on a table and they measure my spleen with ultrasound. We already know it contains red blood cells that will be released during breath hold and help me carry more oxygen in the blood. I rest for 10 minutes and then I am asked to start a max breath hold without breathing up or packing. Erika wants to, among other things, know how our ability to hold our breath varies when we have time to prepare, with a more emergency kind of breath hold that surprises us. Like being trapped in a car that has fallen into the sea. A similar question we competetive freedivers has been concerned with the last 4-5 years. Warm-up or no warm up? I do 5.20 on the first breath hold, which makes the scientist crew of four a bit happy since it is the longest so far. Vanity fed. Contractions and 2.15, surprisingly late considering I had eaten 70 minutes before.
I would argue that no warm up, would not necessarily mean no increased ventilation. I would have prefered to take some 6-8 deep breaths before. After a rest of 10 minutes I am allowed to prepare myself in what ever way I chose for a second max static, but only during 10 minutes. Long enough. I do an exhale static for 1.45, rest for 3 minutes and then start some deep slow breathing for 5 minutes, blocking the exhale slightly to retain lung pressure and hopefully push some O2 atoms into the blood. No packing (some of the first subjects did that and several blacked out). Packing is trickier on land, specially in Sharm with outside temperatures above 40 degrees celcius, threatening heat strokes and falling bloodpressures. Contraction at 3.45 and I stop at 6.20. I feel an LMC in my arm, O2 saturation down to 53 at its lowest. That was a max alright. On both breatholds I had saturation O2 70 at 5.30. Most likely I could have gone beyond 6.20 in the first breath hold, but 3 min contractions was well enough.

Erika is also going to correlate glucose levels, and HB levels and other stuff to the athletes performances. Glucose levels will show who is fasting and who is not.

I and Johan Dahlstrom (doctor, aswell as our at the time strongest athlete) has convinced our two other male athletes (both body builders) to cut down on meat before the upcoming static. Very reluctantly they have done so. Asking Weine to stop with coffee and sugar seems to be asking too much. He looks a bit agressive when we start talking about these things. I have been clearly told that he needs not analyzing or strategy thinking from me as teamcaptain. He decides weeks before the WC what he will deliver in points and then he just comes here and does it. Hyperventilate and go. He seldom fails. He´s more like a natures force. Just go with it.

Where to?
It is getting serious. Did you know that countries are actually protesting each others performances. I know it happened in 2006 team on an ocassion, and we have the protested Stig performance in Maribor, but it looks like this will be part of future freediving on top level. So when private videofootage is allowed in the protestroom who dares not to film every performance of the team, even if we have to pay for acess.

Japaneese and Russians have a historic tendency to come "en force" with big groups. As is the french and the brittish (the later usually confusing quantity with quality ;-). NZ went for quality and sent one coach and three megastars, but it didnt pay of. In WC team the coolest most strategic teams seems to be the french and the danish. Sweden has just broken a glorious record of all white cards since the beginning of team WC.

Many more countries has discovered the trick of "underperforming" and waiting for the greedy to stagger. Seems to be a lot less DQ even though a harsh climat should have suprised many athletes, making them overating their training performances.

It is obvious that the japaneese ladies been preparing had for this, as has the whole Czecks team, and of course the Greeks, no one warned us of them.
But freediving Competition is so much more than coming fit and push against the contractions and take care of that mouthfill. If you can not handle those finer details of the rules, you will start loosing points or even white cards.
What is a toptrained body worth if you can not stay healthy - if eating, sleeping and acklimatization does not work. A hookbreath "programmed" into the deeper part of the brainfunction could be the different between medal or not.

It was only 7 years ago Herbert surfaced in Ibiza doing those strange gulping movements. And back then we lifted our eyebrows to monofins and those incredibly fast dives. No one ever heard about no warm up techniques or that temperature had something to do with the finer details of performance (why on earth did Stepanek take of his suit in that Ibiza pool back in 2001, wasnt it cold?).


Below Finland - the worlds best breathholders.

Photo: Kimmo Lahtinen

"So when are the swedish going to stop overventilating" finnish Timo asks me (The finnish men won the overall static). Annelie is purging away in lane D, and we can still here the echo of Lottas breathing, soon to follow by Weines wirlwind breathing. If trying to discuss it with him he quotes Herbert: "Iknow - but it works". And sure it did - Weine best breathholder on the last day, but the Fins and the danes has caught up and are going to give us a fight for it, the danes with proven DYN ability. Can we count on Weine again - he will need more help from his mates. Johan "a man of depth" has already given us points enough in CWT to make up for a shorter DYN. Young Tobias can not risk anything in his first WC-team.

DYN is where the competition starts, where teams actually can watch each other and act accordingly to others perfomances.

Are we content with that or are there any creative ideas on how to make freediving into a competition that unfolds in front of our eyes from start to finnish, instead of on lists hours afterwards.

STA males
1. Fins
2. Greecs
3. Czechs
4. Dans
5. Swedes
6. Japanese
STA Females
1. Russians
2. USA
3. Japanese
4. French
5. Dans
6. Germans

Dyn day 1
The face of danish Sanne speaks for itself. Hours after her dive it is still there - the blankness - the "what happened", what should I have done different?
At 130 meter a Blackout that left the danish women with no bronze medal.
Earlier during the day Japan Female got red cards moving teams as Denmark up. The japaneese got DQ for starting a few centimeters after the 1.5 meter line. Me personally I rather have BO than be DQ by that rule. Rope at 1.5 please.
Mandy had a BO at 150 meters.
Czeck women performes steady and CZ is heading for an overall winner both men and female. Greeks have the mens gold and only themselves can lose it now.
CZ and French are fighting over the silver. Would newly frenhified Winram be needed tomorrow or is Nery, maldame and Morgan enough? Swedes on fourth place looking over the shoulder towards finnish Mikko and Timo diving tomorrow.

Mullins started the competition in a nice way; turning, turning, turning (in the shitty, warm, uneven, shallow, mismeasured pool) - how many turns? He comes up at what would have been 250 in a normal pool (this one about 247), stands up slowly testing his balance, exploring his consiousness for a second. Goes for his noseclip and we hear three New Zealanders screaming BREATH. He hesitates with the noseclip, turns slighty his head towards the teammates, lets of a small forgiving smile that said: "calm down, Why would I have to breath, I am not even exhausted". Continues with the noseclip, does a small discret Ok sign and says gently "the words". Judges looking carefully, scrutinizing his every move, the audience is dead silence, waiting for the card. 30 seconds - no card, he just stands there, awkvardly waiting. No one is saying anything. 40 seconds. The judges are set on watching him the full minute. I cant help but to break the silence and say: "just watch him, he is going to fall over any second".
But Mullins is the steadiest freediver ever to come out of the southern hemisphere (not counting Carlos :-)

It is more that clear that CWT is only a cautious prelude to when the real competition starts: in the pool.
Here is where the points are: dyn and sta still on general gives more points than cwt. We keep hearing: Time, length and distance - the essence of freediving. But wouldnt a competition with the disciplines: FIM, CNF, CWT feel like a real FREEDIVING CHAMPIONSHIP. There is time and lenght in the depth aswell. The winner of triple depth dahab is a truly good freediver, although you dont get the points you deserve for CNF there.

The executive man of AA red sea: Marco pointed out that I wrote something wrong yesterday. AA offered to organize WC depth for three consecutive years (in order to finance some investmenst improving the diving facilities), but after no coherent answer whatsoever from Aida (Bill) for 6 months they withdrew the offer BEFORE Aida responded.
I guess they where pissed of. But Bill says his hands are tied by the statutes - the location of coming WC´s is an assembly decision.

Now it seems WCteam might move to Okinawa Japan in early July 2010.
WC indoor 2009 is more or less decided to go to a small town in Denmark.

So what happened. Off course it is interesting.
The nordic countries fighting just below the medals. Johan Dahlstrom who dive 90+ in depth knew that he "only" had to do 155 to keep the finnish behind in a worst case scenario. Calm and selfconfident he sets of. But all of a sudden he is up. 145 meters and fighting an LMC. Mask of, ok sign. Yes, yes... he might make it... but then he turns towards his safety and does a second Ok sign. was the the inwater CWT judge he was looking for?
Young Mikko (FIN) enters the pool and does one of the few sucessfull 198+ (202) meter dives. Throws down his goggles with a decisive movement. The finnish are now 4th waiting for mishaps from the top three.
One greek does a safe dive, the other enters a pool and does a safe controlled dive far away from hypoxi. BUT what happens, I can hardly believe what I see. Elbows on the line, and hands on googles, but instead of lifting the goggles he lowers the head to get the goggles on the forehead. Mouth dips. No one says anything. Red card. Not even Manolis 203 meter dive saves them.
French and Czeck come alive. Start counting.
Mean while Russian ladies does two easy 99 meter dives - enough for the gold. They are a 120 meter dive a part from the US ladies when all points are counted. The danish ladies would have been bronze medalists and best DYN country if Sanne had done her 120+ dive. Maria saves lots of points with one of the longest female dives 148 meters. Instead of Denmark Japan ladies takes bronze even though they lost one diver for a start beyond the 1.5 line.
This will be good for us all - now japan can "sell" freediving better for the possible Okinawa 2010 team WC
Danish men famous for their performances in the pool is overall winner in the pool with two 198 meter dives. Just a few meters away from the bronze and the finnish. "If I only had swam 8 meters more" danish Sofus keeps repeating in his head. While other wished they had swam a few meters less.
Ant (NZ) BO at 210, and in the opposite emotional spectrum UK dave doing 173 PB.
The stage is now set for the ultimate drama. Two divers swimming side by side for the gold. Stepanek CZ and Maldame FRA start last in the comp - onle ONE meter separates them. Maldame is faster, Stepanek can watch him from behind. But he doesnt - The czecks are happy with silver and teammates says he will risk nothing. Maldame is a known strong "dynamist". Martin once had a WR in this discipline, but that was long ago.
They surface at the same time. Maldame at 175. Strong. Stepanek is up at 155 with problem, fighting an LMC. The head nods several times. SP gets delivered in time. White card. The french are jumping in the pool. Champion de monde.
Greeks try to protest their surfacing and someone in the canadian team protests US Jessicas start. No protest goes through. No one bothers to protest Stepaneks nodding. I guess we all find them worthy silvermedalists. And as far as I know no Czeck has protested an other team and has no "enemies" out there.

So did the best teams win? I was there, I saw it happen. But I still do not know. If the definition of freediving is to "dive and come back concious" well then the best teams did not win. The greeks where the strongest (but not the smartest). And one of the Russian ladies was hardly aware of what side of the platform she surfaced on, and the SP looked thereafter. Protests and videos, thats what decided this WC

At the end of the day. BO with mouthdip is the only clear limit free of subjective judgement and red cards for details that has little to do with the "apnea performance".


1 FRA 260.0 226.2 252.5 738.7
2 CZE 247.0 236.8 245.5 729.3
3 FIN 193.0 259.4 251.5 703.9
4 DEN 194.0 230.2 275.5 699.7
5 GRE 257.0 254.4 175.5 686.9
6 SWE 226.0 229.4 181 636.4
7 SLK 144.0 216.8 263 623.8
8 UK 182.0 206.4 222.5 610.9
9 JPN 128.0 226.6 246 600.6
10 SUI 193.0 121.8 204 518.8
11 RUS 167.0 216.2 124.5 507.7
12 NZ 206.0 175.8 124 505.8
13 ITA 150.0 196.6 136 482.6
14 SER 92.0 183.8 188 463.8
15 GER 64.0 199 186.5 449.5
16 USA 140.0 191.2 110 441.2
17 CAN 137.0 197.8 92.5 427.3
18 BRA 123.0 148 119 390.0
1 RUS 205.0 205.4 186.5 596.90
2 USA 171.0 200.0 166.0 537.00
3 JPN 183.0 180.2 139.5 502.70
4 CZE 147.0 159.8 172.0 478.80
5 SWE 160.0 120.2 179.5 459.70
6 FRA 112.0 179.0 168.0 459.00
7 DEN 142.0 175.8 136.0 453.80
8 CAN 163.0 124.6 111.5 399.10
9 GER 51.0 169.0 170.0 390.00
10 SUI 84.0 136.4 128.0 348.40
11 UK 82.0 127.6 99.0 308.60

Chart by Trux - Trux freediving site