Yesterday the conditions on the ocean in Roatan were stirred up & very choppy, which possibly contributed to why there was such a mixed bag of results for the men in the Constant Weight (CWT) discipline. Consistently deep divers such as Adam Stern and Stig Pryds never realized their targets as they turned early. Depth mates Aolin Wang and Mike Board made 105m & 106 respectively but were vexed by surface protocol DQs. It would appear that a new sheriff had finally arrived in town and by town, we mean the pinnacle of the world stage, and the sheriff would be none other than David Mullins.
In a dive time of three minutes and :36 seconds Dave improved upon his own previous record of 125m which was set back in September of 2013, (when he originally bested fellow kiwi diver William Trubridge’s previous NZL record of 121m CWT).
“I had to concentrate pretty hard on that dive. Just on the way down with equalizing. That has been my big problem recently is running out of air and not managing it properly for the lower third of the descent. As you could see in the diveye camera I smacked into the base plate pretty hard because I was concentrating so hard on equalizing. But once I was there (at the plate) and got a tag, coming up was pretty straightforward it was a well controlled ascent.“
So the man with an astonishing 15-liter lung volume knew instinctively once he made the bottom that he had the dive in the bag. Not only is Dave Mullins a reaffirmed national record holder for New Zealand but for the first time in AIDA history there are dual Gold Champions. The icing on the cake for Mullins is matching CWT World Record Holder Alexey Molchanov for the deepest dive at the 2017 world championships and sharing first place. What makes this achievement for Dave even more incredible is that the media-shy athlete has been struggling with the flu of late, and did not have as much opportunity to train as many of the other competitors have.
“No one has been around to challenge Alexey in CWT,” said Mullin’s countryman Johnny Sunnex, “the only person recently who could have given Alexey a run for his money at depth was Guillaume Nery, but Guillaume retired late in 2015 so to have Mullins as an equal to Molchanov is exciting for the sport. And I believe Alexey welcomes the competition.”
As it turns out Alexey was definitely aware of the possibility.
“I was thinking that there is a possibility that Dave would want to go for a national record and announce 126 so I was surprised because it seemed that he had some problems with equalization — but I wasn’t surprised too much.” said Molchanov.
Listening to the cheers erupting from the parallel platform before his dive added another amount of stress for Alexey.
“I had a bit of a higher heart rate, I was starting second and I heard he made the dive and so I knew I that I did not have room for any mistakes and that I had to get a tag and a white card,” shared a genial Molchanov. “It was really nice to do same dive as Dave, as we were diving together quite some years ago and I knew that if anyone could challenge me with monofins now, that it would be Dave. So maybe, in the end, it wasn’t such a good idea (on my part) to make him such a good Molchanovs monofin!” Alexey joked having been the supplier of Mullin’s key piece of equipment.
But the affectionately dubbed “Golden Retriever” of Russia withstood the pressure and delivered a super clean protocol (facing the judges!) when he completed his own 126m dive under constant weight in a time of three minutes and :55 seconds.
With two Gold medalists leading the pack the final award for podium status was earned by Morgan Bourc’his of France. Known for his strength in no-fins, for Morgan an unexpected bronze medal in Constant Weight was a pure boon to augment his confidence.
“Daan Verhoeven said it was a wise day yesterday,” explained Bourc’his. “But for me, who is almost always wise, it was a normal situation at the beginning. Announced 101m, which is usually around a top10/top15 dive in constant weight in a big event, I am not a great specialist of the monofin. I prefer swimming in no fins, and I don’t think I do it too badly. Always tricky with my equalization around the hundreds, my dive was supposed to be correct at this point, nothing more. But it was good, I managed it simply, and when you are able to dive just 10m less in no-fins, you are not too stressed during your attempt. But then, all my fellow competitors following me early turned, forgot their noseclips, looked at anyone else and failed their protocol. Fortunately, both our super-human freedivers managed their dive to 126m, but I find myself a bronze medalist in constant weight in Roatan 2017 AIDA Freediving World Championship. I accept it, that is the game, but trust me I am not going to brag about it anywhere! I am happy but recognize I was a bit lucky. So now, make way for our last discipline and let’s start with our fantastic women for the Constant No Fins final!”
In a rather unexpected outcome, William Trubridge received a red card for what was otherwise a picture perfect performance. His dive to 116m was foiled by two tenths of a second. Suffering at the hands of time William took just a little bit too long to complete his surface protocol and the judges could only give him the card that was earned, which was maddeningly red, and ultimately those mere milliseconds cost him the silver.
Stay tuned for the women’s day of Constant Weight No-Fins on Friday September 1st.
Photos Courtesy of Daan Verhoeven