Thursday, July 25, 2024
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Don't Hold Your Breath

The Kona Freediving Challenge 2003 just would not end. The event wrapped, sure, and everybody involved went back to doing whatever else it is they do, but in the matter of Annabel Briseno’s apparent world record in Static Apnea, there was no closure.

            The AIDA event judges, Martin Stepanek and Kirk Krack, had given a thumbs-up to Annabel’s record-setting performance of 6:21, but had been overruled by higher-ups at AIDA headquarters.

             Finally, on  January 25, 2004  -  2 months after the event, the Brisenos’ patient struggle with the labyrinthine, Kafka-esque AIDA rule book and procudured ( or lack thereof) was rewarded. A vote of the full AIDA board had overrulled the overulling of the event judges, to put it as simply as possible.

            Even so, the cake was not yet completely baked. The new ruling called for 10 more days of baking,  so to speak, to allow for any new protests of the overruling of the overruling to be lodged. This, at least, is what our team of crack scientists and engineers at Deeper Blue headquarters have concluded.

            And so, on February 4, 2004 not with a bang but with a whimper ( no new protests were filed with the AIDA board) Annabel Briseno’s static apnea performance during the Kona Challenge back in November  of the previous year was (finally !) recognized as the womens’ world record.

            Matt Briseno: “It took us 75 days and the filing of a huge protest to get it done.  The easy part was Annabel’s. All she had to do was hold her breath for 6:21.  I spent days, weeks, putting together a protest that would get things set straight”.

            The athelete’s world record performance was the easy part. This does not seem quite right. Have we learned anything from this mini-debacle ?

             Again, Matt: “There’s a lot of rules cleanup work that has to be done. Seems to be some progress being made in a positive direction. ”

            Matt and Annabel are satisfied that justice has been done. Annabels’s complete record collection is now official : womens’ Free Immersion at 71 meters, and womens’ static apnea at 6:21.  It was not a pleasant experience getting there, though. Matt know that the AIDA board’s final, favorable vote was a close one, and that continues to be of concern to athletes and competitors going forward.

            Matt’s advice to any future athelte put in a position of having to contest an AIDA ruling on an event performance ?

            “Don’t hold your breath !”


Paul Kotik
Paul Kotik
Paul Kotik has been a Staff Writer and Freediving Editor for He lives in Florida, USA with his family.