Day 17 – He gives me the 'slow blink'…

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The nor’ western is still creating some swells from the past day, but things are manageable enough to get in and out of West Bay dock.

The diving order for today is Mandy, with free immersion to 75m / 246ft, then Martin with constant ballast no-fins to 75m / 246ft, Doc with variable ballast to 45m / 148ft, then Mandy again with constant no-fins to 47m / 154ft, and Doc with variable ballast to 50m+ / 164ft to finish off.

Mandy’s up for her free immersion to 75m / 246ft. She hits 62m / 203ft and stops for ten seconds trying to clear her ears. No luck! So she readjusts her sights on a constant ballast no-fins attempt after Doc. A little Afrin might help clear up the ear issues.

Martin also struggles with equalizing difficulties. He has to put hand to nose through his Sphera to Frenzel his way to depth and stops short at 54m / 177ft. It’s becoming apparent that equalizing issues aside, we could see Martin hitting close to 80m / 263ft without fins.

Doc is next with a variable ballast run to 45m / 148ft on the sled. He’s overcome his equalizing troubles. Now he has to focus on consistency so he can one-off it on the first attempt. Come record day there’ll be no ‘do-overs’ so we need to work on the first attempt being the good one. He bangs out 45m / 148ft with ease and is very confident about his 50m+ / 164ft. I’m now thinking that we’ll make that a personal best of 52m / 171ft.

It’s Mandy’s turn now. The chop has built up quite a bit so I support Mandy’s head during her breathe-up, keeping my fingers on her neck weights to ease the pressure of the 1.4kg / 3lb. Today she’s wearing a crotch lanyard to keep her weight belt on her hips.

She starts her attempt to 47m / 154ft which, if successful, could break the current world record of 45m / 148ft. She disappears into the clear blue. The viz today is really good. Down below Bill and Dave, our rebreather divers are readying themselves with fast ascent bags should there be a problem.

On her ascent I start following her at 30m / 99ft. At 20m / 66ft I swim in front of her and she spits her tongue out at me. Hitting the surface her big smile tells the story of a successful 47m / 154ft dive — an unofficial new world record. I believe that 50m / 164ft is within her reach in this discipline.

Up next is Doc for his 52m / 171ft variable ballast. "Relax into the sled," I repeat. Soon Doc is off in good form, losing no air and looking very relaxed. Soon I’m swimming down, and by 30m / 99ft I can see the line ‘jerk’ as the sled hits bottom. Doc ascends to the surface, with his kicks and pulls looking more calculated and relaxed. We meet at 30m / 99ft and he’s looking good. He gives me the ‘slow blink’ to signal his comfort and success on hitting bottom. In no time we are breaking the surface.

Doc is happy with his performance. He gets really excited when we tell him he’s just made a new personal best of 52m / 171ft. With this news Doc starts shadow boxing and yelling with excitement. There’s more to come from Doc. I believe he could attain 60m / 197ft if he can keep the technique, focus, and relaxation required.

Doc’s last drop ends our diving day. We clean-up the sled and head back in for lunch. Tonight it’s early to bed. Tomorrow is our last training day before a day off and we’re planning big dives all around on the sled.

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