In association with Performance FreeDiving International
Again we set up on site, realize there’s too much current and pick it all up to find another more suitable site. Although this is necessary and we end up with relatively good sites, it keeps the athetes waiting and the crew working. Exhaustion is taking its toll, and today Tom Lightfoot spends over 5 hours in the water.
Finally by 10:30 a.m. we are hooked up and ready to put the first athlete in the water. Mandy-Rae Cruickshank will attempt 74m / 242ft which is 2m / 7ft short of her previous attempt. It’s better to make a good attempt. Considering the whipping wind and the fierce chop today it’s not going to be an easy day for anyone.
Joining us on the boat is Sky Christopherson and his film crew. They are shooting a movie called "The Greater Meaning Of Water". A freediver movie that gets away from the usual themes seen in most movies. This one should open in June and hit the film festival circuit. We’re providing our record attempt infrastructure as a movie set when we’re not using it, which is usually at set up and break down.
Today we’re missing Peter Satitpunwaycha and Dave Faas. Dave’s heading to the airport for his flight home. Dave and Peter will be sorely missed. Mandy’s sent a last minute plea to Dave’s family to let him stay and keep Team PFI safe at depth along with his buddy Spencer. Both of them have been with us since the beginning. Joining us today is Aaron Paker from Northern California. He’ll end up replacing Peter on the heavy lifting end of the game. There’s something to be said for those hearty NorCal types.
Well, we got what we asked for and more. The winds are back today in full force. This makes the surface conditions less then perfect, and with a good current underwater it means that we need to change locations before we find a divable site.
I get in and start my warm-ups. All goes well except that the current is pulling me sideways, although it’s much better than the other day. So I decide to make another attempt. Today’s goal is to speed up my Free Immersion dive a bit. So all the way down and back up I keep a constant ‘one-two’ count going in my head. The strange thing about the dive is that none of my safety divers are cheering. So all the way up I keep wondering why they are being so quiet. I guess that they just forgot. Soon I meet up with Kirk and Tom and we make our way the last few meters to the surface. Once at the surface I do my recovery breathing and give the judges a big OK. The surface is really choppy and I have to wind my legs around the line in order to stay safe above the water.
It is such a great feeling to finally get this record. I first announced it in early 2001 and then again in 2003 and 2004. I am glad to have finally conquered this discipline. I only wish that I had more time to get it a bit deeper, but I still have Variable Ballast to attempt so I’ll leave it for now.
After the usual warm up, one more gulp and down I drop. It is getting so comfortable now, I love the release into the blue. The anxiety of reaching down for that little bit of air I need to equalize when I feel the depth squeeze has gone. Now that I am used to it, the air comes more easily. As I descend my only thoughts are on my timing. Keep refilling until it won’t come up. With my cheeks full, the last equalization is pushed to near empty. But why is it taking so long? Did Kirk fool me again? As my eyes open to take in more data, there is another line rubbing on my sled. What the heck! I look first to my back and down to see where touchdown is. I cannot see it, so my body bends forward and up. There it is two meters away. I ride it to the end with the feeling that my eardrums are touching each other. In a flash the sled peels away from my fins. What in the world! There are two lines to grab! Which one will take me to the judges? A look down traces one line to the sled and my hands grab it. Because the counterbalance line is swinging in the current the two lines became twisted. The delay throws my usual easy trip up to a new uncomfortable swim. The current is swift enough to make it hard to grab the line, so my fins do all the work. I make it, give the OK sign and shake AIDA judge Bill Stromberg’s hand knowing that I have exceeded his national record by one meter. Tonight, I wonder how many times my teamates will tease him, "Bill, what’s the variable ballast record for Sweden?" … Me? I’m lying low.