The mood was light, and much more playful than usual, on day three of the Caribbean Cup competition. With a party scheduled and a “rest day” lined up for the next, most of the athletes were able to deliver some very solid dives and clear their minds of any type of “anticipation” for an entire 48 hours. And some of us really need that break!
Two athletes in particular come to mind, Sofia Gomez-Uribe (COL) and myself, Ashley Futral Chapman (USA). It hasn’t taken long for Sofia to ascend the ranks in the competitive freediving arena. As an ex-fin swimmer her technique with the monofin is effortless and she has accumulated myriad depth records to prove it. However, she has had a slow start at Caribbean Cup with two consecutive days of early-turn dives. The labors of a long competition season, daily record attempts and a bit of anxiety have been the perfect storm to slow Sofia’s progress, that was until Day 3! Colombia’s golden girl hit 81 meters in Free Immersion (FIM) dive, earned a white card and with it in hand she vigorously exhaled. Sofia has finally arrived in Roatan.
“I didn’t known if I wanted to dive. I’ve been having this discussion with myself since the competition began. I am happy that I won VB and I think that’s enough and I don’t need to prove anything to anyone but at the same time I had great dives training here and I really wanted to do that 96 in the comp and not being able to do it puts me off a lot. So I told myself today: why are you doing this? Isn’t this what you love? Aren’t you supposed to be enjoying it? Man up and do it… at one point on the warm ups I was thinking I should quit the competition… but I won’t.”
Sofia’s quote exemplifies & mirrors my sentiments exactly. Our daughter Ani was born just after I had the diving season of my life back in 2012. Coming back into the scene has been harder than I imagined. Much harder! Physically, I know that I am stronger than I have ever been but mentally, well, let’s just say there’s not so much left in my tank at the end of the day. Ani is out on the line training with us, swimming with us just before AND after my dives. She wakes up at 5:30 am and still, at two years old, does not understand, “Mommy needs some time to herself right now.” So training is compromised, mental preparation is compromised and my “zone”, well, my “zone” is not a cleared mind, a halo of light beckoning me to walk towards it. It is more like a half-lit tunnel cluttered with toys, broken crayons and half eaten boxes of raisins that I have to temporarily kick aside in order to rush towards a small beam of light threatening to extinguish itself any minute. Despite this imagery and my diving struggles, freediving with Ani is more rewarding than any freediving record including the national record I earned today, pushing my own USA Constant Weight (CWT) National Record to 83m. Prayer works!
Other highlights include Spain’s Miguel Lozano’s Free Immersion (FIM) National Record dive to 118m. The true highlight of that dive was not even the clean performance. Miguel is such a powerhouse and so much is expected of him. But that his parents came all the way from Spain to witness the event. Upon surfacing and receiving his white card Miguel’s father yelled from the spectator boat, “My champion!”. Hearts melted at that moment.
On several accounts athletes, the organization and freediving fans made comments about what an emotional day day three was. USA’s Kerry Hollowell said, “I’ve never seen so many spectators at a freediving competition before!” The combined efforts of the warm-hearted safety team, the supportive Roatan community, the comment from Lozano’s Dad and Ani’s cheerful presence, “Mommy, mommy!” upon my surfacing today brings us back to my original sentiments regarding the Caribbean Cup, “friends like family”.
Please follow the Caribbean Cup’s live video feed on Twitter. The Periscope broadcast will be live Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at 15:00 UTC!
Photos Courtesy of Alex St. Jean