Are there too many freediving World Championships? Champion freediver William Trubridge sure thinks so.
This year, AIDA’s Depth World Championship event in Roatan, Honduras in August came fresh off the heels of the Vertical Blue freediving competition that Trubridge himself organizes that concluded just weeks before at Dean’s Blue Hole in the Bahamas. The scheduling caused controversy when AIDA first announced it. And CMAS’s “Freediving World Cup Outdoor” is taking place this very week in Kas, Turkey.
In an op-ed published on his website this week, Trubridge laments that the term World Championship “has lost its charm.”
According to Trubridge:
“There used to be a time, in what seems like a different age of freediving, when there was a single Depth World Champs: it was just called ‘the world champs,’ without need for any designation of AIDA or CMAS. It happened every two years, on odd-numbered years from 2005 to 2017, and there was great excitement and anticipation when it was a ‘world champs year.’ Athletes would plan their training for the whole year, and sometimes even the previous season, around that event. ALL the top athletes were there. You just couldn’t miss the world champs.”
In those days, he wrote, there were three disciplines, with six potential world champion titles up for grabs (three for each gender) every two years.
“The gold medal truly meant something. Nowadays in the same period there are no less than 32 potential world champion titles. That’s because there are two different world championships, and they each happen every year, and we have an extra depth discipline…”
The addition of titles dilutes the value of each of those medals, according to Trubridge:
“Top athletes choose not to attend, in preference of other events where they can perform more dives for less cost. And those who do attend are mostly split between one of the two choices, meaning the field is effectively cut in half.”
Trubrudge also contends that despite advances in technology (hello, Diveye) that allows these events to be live-streamed, the sheer number of them lessens the anticipation as well as viewership.
“There hasn’t been a world record attempt in any world championship event since 2013,” he writes.
Trubridge emphasizes that he’s not criticizing the organization of this year’s events.
“By all accounts, the AIDA WC in Roatan was run very smoothly, and the best since 2017 (the last time it was in Roatan). Likewise athletes are satisfied with the organization of the CMAS WC in Kas.”
He also praises the athletes who attend, but adds that they “deserve the opportunity to compete for a more definitive prize, one that doesn’t come with an asterisk, and isn’t going to be eclipsed a few short months later.”
His main beef is with the two big freediving organizations — CMAS and AIDA — and how “the models they use are fundamentally flawed.”
Just how flawed? Check out Trubridge’s full op-ed here. It’s well worth a read.