Antonio Del Duca sets a Pan American Freediving Record for His Country

Venezuelan pride at the Olmeca Open 2016.

Antonio Del Duca has been on a mission.

Antonio Del Duca is a Venezuelan athlete who has been freediving for over 12 years, all the while serving as an ambassador of the sport competitively worldwide; especially within the pool disciplines. Holding myriad national records, several Pan American and Continental records, Antonio took a break from competitive freediving for about a year and a half, to focus his energies on the development of a new School of Latin American Apnea: GO Freedive Gravedad Cero (Zero Gravity).

But at the beginning of 2016, Del Duca decided to reinvigorate his training and to return to competition; his first goal would be to complete five months of hard training in the pool complex of Nations Park United Paradise Caracas.

Despite the social, political and economic strife in my country I long to feel connected to my fellow countrymen,” offered the 38 year old Del Duca, “I was determined. I had only one thing in my mind — something that goes beyond an obsession — the endeavor to lift the spirits of all Venezuelans, to show them what is possible! And at the same time, I wanted to create new Pan-American records in the disciplines of dynamic no-fins (DNF) & dynamic with fin (DYN). During these five months I was very committed to my training,  jogging every day 5 kilometers, then 1 hour and a half of weights in the gym, then two hours in the pool.  When the month of May arrived I felt like I had achieved my optimal physical preparation and was ready to travel to the most important pool event in Latin America apnea — the Olmeca Open Veracruz 2016.”

The pool at the Olmeca Open.

Antonio continued sharing….“On May 18th I arrived in Mexico City and immediately took a bus to the city of Veracruz. With just one day to acclimatize, and then to immediately begin such an important competition (which lasts for 3 days, with an apnea test everyday) was going to be a challenge.

The first day’s event was in the discipline of static apnea, where I was hopeful to beat my own personal record but travel fatigue does not  always cooperate with your plans! The fatigue did not let me do it  — however I did reach a 5:45 minute mark that gave me the silver medal.  On the second day of the Olmeca Open I had planned for an attempt to beat the Pan American record in DNF, but another obstacle emerged — my lenses/goggles did not fit well and were immediately flooded as I submerged, giving me blurry vision the entire length of the dive.”

While Del Duca is an advanced athlete with great capacity for mental control and  the determination to concentrate & stay calm, he knew the only way for him to continue with absolute confidence in his goal, would be to have clear sight and and he therefore decided at 144m DNF to abandon the record but to secure the gold medal in the no-fins discipline for the comp.

Del Duca is determined.

The third day of the Olmeca Open would be a day of reckoning for Del Duca — it would be his last chance to forge a new Pan American Record in DYN for the record books and for his beloved country of Venezuela. Even though Antonio is an expert freediver, and has been demonstrably leading the Pan American field for the last 5 consecutive years, nothing in freediving is ever guaranteed. Yet Antonio held firm to his belief that he could and would triumph in DYN, despite the fact that his 5 months of training had really focused almost exclusively on no-fins.

“At the start of the dive, I make some brief yoga moves, I visualize the victory, I take a deep breath and I go.” explained Antonio.

Campeon Del Duca.

And three minutes and :48 seconds later Antonio Del Duca accomplished what he set out to do: to overcome the odds, to shine in his performance and to lift the spirits of all Venezuelans, by successfully setting an incredible new Pan American Record in DYN with a formidable breath-hold swim to the distance of 224 meters. Antonio’s white card swim to 224 meters is now the longest dynamic dive for any AIDA athlete in both North and South America.