Frogman determined to stop the newt's slide into oblivion

Newts and humans- both freedivers, yet while one species’ population is forever on the up, the other is on the way down.

Frogman Challenge was set up to help stop the slide by harnessing competitive freediving to raise funds for the conservation of the Great Crested Newt, an endangered species protected across Europe. England is a particular stronghold for Great Crested Newts, which are in decline throughout their natural range, mainly due to habitat loss caused by agricultural intensification and development.

I do a lot of work with ‘cresties’ in my job as an Ecologist. I believe it will help to raise money for Froglife, a UK charity that supports amphibian conservation.

There is a nice link with the amphibious nature of our sport. Newts, like human freedivers, need both aquatic and terrestrial habitats to survive. I’m sure all of us wish we could absorb oxygen from water through our skins, as newts do when submerged ! As you can see from the photo, they look pretty impressive for something that you can haul out of a farmland pond.

You can find out more about them at www.froglife.org.uk.

As for me, last month I was sponsored by my employer, Atkins (a leading planning and design consultancy), to compete in the recent BIOS Open competition, held in Cyprus. In the competition I managed to achieve 111m dynamic and 5:04 static. Unfortunately, although I was hitting my target depths comfortably in training, an ear infection prevented me from achieving my inscribed depth of 55m on the competition day.

Nevertheless, taking part was immensely rewarding and it was great to meet up with everybody again after taking a break from competitions last year. Like all the competitions I have been to, the atmosphere of warmth and friendship between fellow competitors is something that is special about freediving – and in this sense the event felt more like a celebration of our sport rather than a competition.

Whilst I’m still in the process of tying things up, collecting sponsorship money and typing press releases, I am already thinking about more ways to raise money for Froglife. Maybe I’ll organise a dynamic apnea competition or try and set a couple of new UK records – I’m not sure yet, but I’d be really grateful for the thoughts of Deeper Blue readers to help formulate ideas.

You can contact me via email at cheshire_ecology@lineone.net

Finally I’d especially like to thank all my colleagues at Atkins for their enthusiasm and fundraising, and, too, my companions in Cyprus, Emma Farrell and David Harries, for their moral support and sharing of the very best of times.