The Ukrainian Team celebrated as they took home a joint National Records with two successful dives resulting in white cards in the Men’s Free Immersion (FIM) discipline today on Day 4 of the AIDA Depth World Championships 2019 here in Villefranche-Sur-Mer.

DeeperBlue.com took the first boat out to the dive platform this morning alongside the Alexey Molchanov (Russia), William Trubridge (New Zealand), Morgan Bouh’His (France) and Abdelatif Aboulade (France).

Alexey Molchanov (Russia) was the first deep diver of the day with a dive to 118m in the Free Immersion (FIM) dive.  He was calm on the ascent and took it in his stride arriving on the surface with a stronghold on the line and a clear surface protocol.  Will Trubridge, unfortunately, fell to conditions again and got a red card disqualification after his dive to 111m.

The host country, France, took the next two podium positions much to the delight of the crowd and media.

  1. Alexey Molchanov (Russia) 118m
  2. Abdelatif Alouache (France) 111m
  3. Morgan Bourc’His (France) 105m

National Record records set during the day’s dives were:

  • Oleksandr Bubenchikov (Ukraine) 95m
  • Andriy Khvetkevych (Ukraine) 95m

The board was awash with white and yellow cards for the competitors today which made for a refreshing change after all the red card disqualifications and blackouts over the past few days.  This also helped keep athletes spirits high.

Full results are below:

AIDA Depth World Championships 2019 - Day Four FIM Results
AIDA Depth World Championships 2019 – Day Four FIM Results

For the first time this competition there was a quiet moment this afternoon.  David Mellor (Great Britain) spoke to DeeperBlue.com and explained he has been keeping away from the social media storm and chatter surrounding the games to maintain his tranquil feeling and focus on the competition.  He surfaced from his dive this afternoon with the biggest smile across his face and gave a very strong surface protocol after an awesome dive with a white card to 63m.

The peaceful lull was over by the time lunch had been eaten, as a meeting was called to discuss the ongoing confusion over some athletes announced performances (AP’s) in relation to their Personal Bests.  The organizers have set in place a rule to say that an athlete may not announce more than 3m over their personal bests as conditions are tough with large thermoclines and it simply is not safe.  Sitting in, we listened to organizer Claude Chapuis address each athlete in question and clear up the confusion.  As a result, the divers in question will be able to dive their announced potentials tomorrow as we see the Constant Weight (CWT) Women and 8 Men discipline begin tomorrow.

I caught up with Nataliia Zhakova (Ukraine) to get an exclusive reaction to Claude Chapuis’ controversial comments stating she should “change profession” if she was not happy with the way the competition was being run.

“In no other sport do athletes hold their breath and challenge the body’s ability to perform with lowered oxygen levels as professional freedivers do. We take carefully calculated and finetuned risks, we push and we strive every time we enter the water. Even more so during major competitions. To support our efforts and to help the sport we all share flourish on the international stage, adequate isn’t good enough. Top-level competitions such as the World Championships require top-level organization. Professionalism on the part of the divers must be matched by an equal level of professionalism from the organizational staff. It is my sincerest hope that Tuesday’s events and errors be remedied through greater communication between athletes and organizing bodies in the future. Let us acknowledge the needs that divers have while at the same time paying respect to AIDA International’s organizational concerns, concerns that for many of us, require greater finesse. I accept the apologies offered to me and look forward to a time when apologies will not be necessary. Our sport deserves better. We are world-class athletes breaking new barriers and propelling freediving to an unprecedented level of popularity. We need organizational standards and procedures to match.”

The action did not stop there though, late in the evening Brigette Banegas (France) launched a second official protest to ADIA International in regards to Natallia Zhakova’s re-start to try to maintain her 3rd place on the podium supported by Jessea Lu (China) 2nd place and 1st place Marianne Gillespie (Russia).  This protest looks to be accepted by judges as point 11.1 in the official protest rules states:

“11.1 All protests shall be considered in the jury room.  The protests will be handled one at a time.  The maximum amount of time for judges to deliberate the protest is one hour otherwise the original judgment stands.”

A decision is set to be finalized tomorrow.

Featured photo by William Rhamey

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