In association with Performance FreeDiving International
[Editors Note: today we are publishing a combined diary from all the major competitors in Grand Cayman]
The day starts off with us sleeping in. Normally this would be a good thing but not when it only leaves half an hour to eat, stretch, and pack before meeting everyone for the boat. Thankfully we’re delayed leaving shore as the media got lost on their way to Cobalt Coast. The good news is that the winds have totally died down.
Well, we thought that no wind was a good thing but turns out that we need a bit of wind to help push us off the wall. So we have to pull in the boat line and move to a new location. Once there we tie up and drop a few lines to see how the boat will sit. All look good so we start to suit up. I get half way dressed when Kirk tells me to stop. This location has us off the wall, but in a lot of current, so we have to untie the boat once again and just drift free. This helps out with the current and I’m given the green light to get in the water. My warm-up goes really well, no different than normal, and I hardly notice any current.
After changing my gear, Tom Lightfoot helps bring me around to the official line. Kirk checks that all cameras and divers are ready and starts my five minute countdown. I take my final breath and start my Free Immersion dive. The first 30m or so feels really good, then all of a sudden the current picks up. My feet are swept back so far they are pulling against my lanyard. Everytime I pull on the line my head is drawn into it due to the angle of my body. But still I’m thinking that things are alright. I hit the bottom and start on my way back. I reach Kirk and Tom, and before I know it I’m at the surface. All I remember from then is seeing things shake a few times. "S!*#" I keep saying as I regain control and look at the judges. I just had a mild samba.
No record this time. On Monday I’ll try again. Hopefully we’ll be able to find a dive spot sooner, so that I don’t overheat. And hopefully there won’t be a harsh current to fight. I know that I can do this as my last FI dive was to 74m in 3:09 and it felt really easy. Today just wasn’t the day for me.
My dive is next. Kirk and I have agreed that I will tell him my attempted depth based on my back condition after the warm-up, just before the official dive. Everything feels alright, and I remember that my 77m dive was easy enough to comfortably add another 3m. "80m!" I whisper. As Kirk is adjusting the line for me he tells me that Mandy had some bad current down there. Just for second I think about changing my mind to go for safe 77m, but I can see that my mark is already set on 80m so I just go with it. My five minute countdown starts and goes by like five seconds. I start my dive and after 10 strokes start sinking. There is some current but it isn’t that bad. It is a bit challenging to stay close to my drop line, but not impossible — until I hit about 65m. The last 15m are seriously ‘windy’; I’m going all over the place. I’m guiding myself with my shoulders and legs like a skydiver in order stay close. I’m happy to arrive at the bottom. The way back should be simple, well at least from a strategic point of view. By swimming as hard as I can I should be able to stay with the line and make up for the delay. It sounds simple enough in my head but soon I realize that there are lot of breast strokes coming up before I can breathe again. Just when my arms start to feel tired from sprinting toward the surface, I see Kirk waiting for me at 30m. I’m thinking that it’s easy, but within the next 15m my arms go from having about 70% energy left to having 15%. Not a nice surprise. I certainly over powered them during that continuous fight with the current. It gets me a little nervous but at the end it actually works out perfect. By the time that the burn in my arms gets really annoying I can feel positive buoyancy taking over and allowing me to relax my strokes. 3 minutes and 13 seconds after my water entry I surface with new world record in constant ballast without fins of 80m.
Today I change my warm-up by adding another hang. It feels good. 2:45 then make my way up. Martin is on his way down, so I know that I’m up next. A tow from Kirk keeps me in my slow state. Some adjustments to the sled make me worry about our saftey divers. One minute’s delay equals five minutes in decompression time for them. I turn my mind off, and mount the yellow sled. I’m ready to go, feel great, and know that I will hit my goal today of 54m. I hear Kirk telling Danny to adust the line for 56m. I think that this is for a deck adjustment and convince myself that it’s 54m. One never knows with Kirk. I tell myself that this is something I have done before and am capable of doing again. I have done 59m so 54m is within reach, or so I tell myself. One jerk of the line and I am falling fast. I am just reacting to the situation without thinking. I am so relaxed. Then I catch myself: better keep ahead of the equalizations or I won’t make it. I drop my throat and push air up. My whale sounds echo for about mile. The pressure increases, I don’t know how I know it is deeper, because there is really no weight feeling. I open my eyes and see a safety diver with a light go by fast. Where am I? I am on my last equalization, I risked all by not filling my mouth. Looking down, I think of bailing out, but the bottom is only one meter more. I let my eardrums stretch and go for it. Touchdown! Yesterday I danced at the bottom (see video 10 "Game Day 1") but today I am all work. Kick, grab, pull. Soon I’m back at 30m and can see both Kirk and Tom. I know I’m safe so I just relax and stop kicking. My ‘aquatic rhino’ body breaks the surface moving two hundred pounds of water in its path. I am careful to grab the line below the surface and give the OK sign. Both judges wait and watch me, which I always think is silly because I’m not even breathing hard. Kirk asks me, "How does a new record of 56m sound?" He tricked me again. Nicolas Laporte says, "Doc, I can give you 54m if you want". Thanks, but no thanks. I’ll take the 56m.