A little over three weeks ago a quite little village in the Southeast coast of the island of Crete, called Myrtos, became the focus of our Freediving community. Freediving Club Greece and Stavros Kastrinakis chose Myrtos for its access to deep, clear waters, the hospitality of the locals and the amazing scenery to host the 7th event in the Mediterranean World Cup series.
A total of 25 Freedivers from 13 Nations attended the event for shorter of longer stays and aiming to train, attend courses, sled dive and compete for the title of the 7th Mediterranean World Cup.
The winner of the event would be decided by adding their performance scores in all of the 3 AIDA competition disciplines Constant Weight, Free Immersion and Constant weight No Fins.
During the first two weeks of the event the focus was on training and as Variable ballast sled diving was available a few of the athletes such as British former record holder David Tranfield and Marc Lenoir from France decided to enjoy some deep sled dives reaching depths of 103m for Marc which is an amazing feat for the start of the season. Turkish Freediving star Sahika Ercumen also spent a week sled diving during the start of the Mediterranean Cup in preparation of her record attempt in July and reaching depths past 80m.
As the weeks progressed the Mediterranean Cup was lucky getting day after day of excellent weather which made training progression easy for all the athletes. It has to be mentioned that the dive site position in the South of the Island of Crete (right in our little Mediterranean Sea) placed the Freedivers out in open waters, which can make deep diving conditions a challenge, and really tests the athletes. This year however the athletes were receiving a treat practically every morning with great day after great day of calm seas and no currents.
As it reached the competition week more athletes arrived giving a buzzing atmosphere to Myrtos. The event allowed for 5 depth competition days with a free choice of discipline every day and an extra mini comp of Static apnea on our day off during the week.
Most athletes focused on collecting points quickly for the overall ranking by doing dives in each of the three disciplines during the first 3 competition days and using the spare 2 comp days to increase their total point count with deeper dives in the same disciplines. Seasoned athletes Jesper Stechmann (DEN) and Liv Philip (UK) quickly gained the lead (Liv only managed to attend one week of the event due to work obligations with 3 days out of her week being competition days but still managed to rack up amazing results) with solid performances across the 3 disciplines. Closely following in the ranking sheet were Yaron Hoory (ISR), Tim Money (UK) and Jakob Galbavy (AUT) for the men and Desiree Balfelt (DEN) and Georgina Miller for the ladies. This ranking order was maintained until the end of the competition with 1st places going to Jesper and Liv while Yaron and Jakob got 2nd & 3rd place respectively and for the ladies Georgina Miller finished 2nd and Desiree Balfelt 3rd.
It must be noted here that the 7th Mediterranean World Cup this year was scheduled as the first of the two events that make up the AIDA Freediving Cup Circuit with the 2014 AIDA EuroCup which starts in Kalamata, Greece (the site of the 2011 & 2013 AIDA Depth World Championships) on August the 25th. The results of the coming AIDA EuroCup will be added to those of the Mediterranean World Cup to give us the Freediving Cup Circuit winners that will compete for a total of €4500 in cash and great prizes (custom wetsuits etc).
It must be noted that several athletes chose to compete with the main aim of setting National Record or getting good AIDA ranked performances at the event. Portuguese Freedivers João Filipe da Costa and Cesar Bettencourt “battled” it out with unprecedented camaraderie setting a total of 5 National Records in Free Immersion and Constant weight No Fins (FIM 60m & CNF 42m, 45m and finally 50m for Joao and FIM 65m & CNF 45m for Cesar). Polish Freediver (and amazingly talented graphic artist) Monika Zawistowska started off timidly but ended up breaking the National Record for FIM several times and taking it down to 52m by the end of the event.
During the competition week a Static Mini-Competition was also planned that saw some amazing performances – Seasoned athlete Aris Ioannidis came close to the 7minute mark with a winning performance of 6:55 and competitors from yesteryear Kimmo Lahtinen (AIDA International President) and Stavros Kastrinakis (event organizer) showed that they still had some breath hold left in them with Statics of 6:16 and 6:00 respectively. For the ladies Georgina Miller surprised everyone with an amazing new National Record (UK) of 6:27 and Desiree and Monika shared the podium with 5:09 and 4:03 respectively.
This brought to an end an amazing Freediving event which has set the tone for the 2014 competition season.
Organizer Stavros Kastrinakis had this to say about the event “The organizers of the 7th Mediterranean World Cup would like to thank Kimmo Lahtinen and Marie Martinez-Lahtinen for doing a fantastic job judging the competition and our event Hyperbaric Doctor Dr.Stavros Marakis who provided medical coverage for the event and showed a level of care for the athletes that was above and beyond the normal duties of an event doctor – a big THANK YOU to all of you. Our next meeting is in less than 9 weeks in the calm blue waters of Kalamata for the 2014 AIDA EuroCup – see you there!!!”