Thursday, July 25, 2024
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2002 – A Retrospective

2002 was quite a year for the sport of freediving.  This year witnessed the wide gamut of several world records in various disciplines of the sport broken, the tragic loss of Audrey Mestre’ in her world record no-limits attempt in October to Benjamin Franz’ near fatal training dive, as well as the positive growth and increase in popularity of the sport of freediving — with cementing its lead as the number one resource on the internet for the sport.

With all that has occurred, there is still a major blemish on the sport that has yet to be addressed — that being of the petty bickering that occurs within the sport itself.  As someone who has taken a keen interest in the sport to the point of being a public advocate, it never ceases to amaze me at the behavior that is constantly displayed within the sport — to the very detriment of the sport itself.

And I have been just as much to blame as anyone else.

I have been known to voice my opinions on more than one occasion and it has been known to annoy a few people in the process.  I do not come from the "Old School" of freediving.  I come from the perspective of being one who took a true passion for the sport to heart and realized that there was a lot of bad information being given — or no information being available at all for those wanting to try the sport.  This has led some old timers to believe that somehow what I have to say doesn’t bear much relevance – because I haven’t "put in my time" so to speak.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Egomania and being overly critical of others seems to have infected the sport of freediving — and now is the time to reflect upon why we truly freedive in the first place.  I, for one, have grown weary of the "I know it all" mentality that so permeates the current crop of participants of freediving. We sould all be in a constant state of learning. That is what will make the sport that much safer.

If I were new to the sport and was looking for information on the sport, I would be appalled at the lack of civility that exists in the freediving community today.  Seeing this I would probably forget about becoming a freediver if this was how I was going to be treated by the rest of the community.

If we are to bring the sport of freediving to the masses as a sport that is full of adventure, fun and self-fulfillment – in as safe a manner as possible, we as a community need to really address the current state of affairs of how we treat each other.

As 2002 draws to a close, I have resolved in my mind to change the way I treat the members of the freediving tribe.  We are a small, close-knit society that participates in an extreme sport. That closed society at times is a detriment more than an asset. Let’s try to resolve for the coming New Year to treat each other with healthy respect — and constructive criticism when we don’t agree with each other.

There are many other things in this life to be concerned about — freediving shouldn’t be one of them.

Cliff Etzel
Cliff Etzel
Cliff is the former Freediving editor of He is now a freelance journalist and film-maker.