Day 20 – I wait for what seems like an eternity …

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After a good day off, we’re all rested and ready to roll. Mandy will make a 50m / 164ft constant ballast no-fins attempt, Martin will attempt 75m / 246ft in the same discipline, and Doc will make one attempt to 55m / 180ft.

We end up missing a few items of equipment and run back to the Cobalt Coast dock to drop off and some pick up items. After we get it together, we moor just off Cobalt where the waters are clear and blue. Chris Brandson from DiveTech has joined us to take video and photos and these conditions will be perfect for shooting.

Mandy’s up first for a 3m / 10ft jump to make the deepest constant ballast no-fins by a woman in this discipline. If all’s successful, it’ll be a big boost for Mandy. She hasn’t been enjoying the aggressive run to depth on variable.

Zero time, purges, packs and she slips gently into Mother Ocean’s arms.

As she descends she’s met by Peter on scuba taking pictures, Goh freediving with video, Chris Brandson on stills at 40m / 132ft, Bill Coltart at depth with an Amphibico VX-2100, and safety divers interspersed throughout. It looks like she’s being swarmed by paparazzi down there. This is good. More and more people will be joining us over the next of couple days. Eventually the numbers will max out on game day when there’ll be judges, medics, videographers, photographers, safety rebreather divers, and safety freedivers, as well as the usual crew.

On reaching the surface Mandy’s looking nice and pink and smiling big. Fifty meters is done, and she’s closed the gap between the men and women again. Mandy’s biggest goal is not to let the men get too far ahead of the women in the self-powered disciplines.

Martin readies himself. I start a five minute countdown for the first time. They’ll each get this countdown as it’s the only way we can synchronize the safety team with the athletes. We want to avoid lengthy decompression and train everyone for when to expect the action.

Martin starts off and everything looks as it has before. I’m expecting a little more delay at the surface because we’ve added depth to hit 75m / 246ft. This will be Martin’s second attempt at this depth — on the last one he hit his head on the bottom.

I leave at the correct time, station myself just shy of 40m / 132ft and wait … and wait … and wait. I’m waiting for what seems like an eternity when finally I make Martin out. His strokes seem more relaxed, but he’s not ascending as fast as normal. Just before we meet, Martin grabs the line and starts pulling himself up. As he joins me I grab on to assist him and by 20m he’s relaxing and relying on me for the rest of the journey. At the surface he doesn’t look any the worse, maybe a little more winded and, of course, no smile, but he seems OK. He explains that he felt slow and was having strong contractions. He did the right thing: he bailed out and didn’t push a bad situation. We’ll discuss, review and figure out what happened.

As it turns out, he was slower off the bottom and too relaxed on the ascent (as was my first impression). Being new to this discipline he doesn’t quite have his stroke cadence down yet. It’ll take just a little more time. Eight meters still seems possible, although it’ll take some more work if we’re really serious in considering this depth. All’s good. Doc is next.

Before heading out on the boat Doc was counting the safeties and querying whether he’d be able to get more than one dive in. We stayed with the one dive parameter and if that put some psychological pressure on, then so be it. It’s the way it’ll be on game day. Now the question is, "Can Doc step up to the plate with one dive and a new pb?" Only he can tell the story.

The dive’s start, descent, ascent and recovery have the appearance of all his other pbs. No more, no less, and this is good. ‘Step up’ he did, and knocked this one way out of the park. Doc’s new pb now sits at 55m / 180ft and I believe he’s got more in him. On reviewing the dive he mentions that once he hit the bottom he could still bring air up and relax. This is good — at this depth that means another 6m / 20ft for a round 200ft is possible for him from an equalizing point of view. His kick and his ascent are looking good so everything’s in order.

I ask him half-jokingly if he wants another dive to which he responds, "No". The guy’s turning into a real pro’ being able to ‘one-off’ a pb. Tomorrow we’ll plan a small calculated increment with no more than a 3m / 10ft jump at any one time.

Because it’s a personal best, Doc says he’s taking the team out for dinner tonight at the Calypso Grill. No one turns down the offer :>)

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