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Freediving 2003: Game Over

It may already be in the can by the time you read this. Loyalty and enthusiasm, those two sterling characteristics of our fantastic readership, are not always a match for the demands this season seems to make of us. It is possible – barely – that you’ve been diverted from your scrupulous review of these pages, and that 2003 has already slipped away into the abyss.

I do hope you’ve managed to wallow a bit in our several contributors’ nostalgic reviews of the waning year. Now, as the final hours and minutes tick by, it’s my turn.

Fate played a bit of a sly trick on me in 2003, as far as freediving highlights are concerned. My year in freediving hit its high note so early in the year that some of my companions were still nursing hangovers ! Well, in the interest of full disclosure, I’ll concede that those individuals are, after all, British, and so the New Year celebrations and consequent headaches were truly imperial in their grandeur. But there we have it: my year in freediving, 2003, peaked in January.

January, 2003 – my first visit to the Royal Navy’s Submarine Escape Training Tower in Portsmouth. The marvel that is HMS Dolphin, and my unforgetable weekend there, were chronicled in these pages and are still the stuff of fireside chats wherever weary freedivers huddle around the glowing embers. Everyone should go and do one of Howard Jones’s Dolphin weekends. If they are sold out, we should start a candlelight vigil around his home until he caves in and sets up some more sessions. I’ve refrained from booking another for myself, self-sacrificing saintly chap that I am, solely so that one of you, one lucky beaver, could have that spot instead.

I loved it ! I basked in the memory of the thing through February, largely ignoring the beckoning waters of my Floridian habitat, and so into spring.

Then I got a promotion at work, and everything changed.

I became Freediving Editor for

Dear readers and only friends – I have not done any ocean freediving since then. I have scrutinized manuscripts, solicited submissions, rejected revisions, requested rewrites, and struggled to keep my head above – above- the swirling waters of high finance, corporate intrigue and media moguling here atop the Tower, here in the global headquarters of this burgeoning communications empire.

And in the course of all this, I’ve barely noticed how dry I’ve been. The time has just flown by. The fact is, I’ve been having so much fun I didn’t miss a thing. Though I can’t claim to deserve to, I am working with an absolutely fantastic assembly of contributors and colleagues and serving a readership that is the stuff an editor’s dreams are made of.

I’d like, therefore, to take this opportunity to thank all of you: writers, editors, readers, sponsors, advertisers – even our competitors, who keep us on our toes and play the game with honor and elan. All of you – thank you, thank you, thank you.

A special thanks goes out to one individual, somebody who always remembers to show his gratitude to everyone else, but who, I suspect, is not always given his due by the rest of us. Publisher Stephan Whelan is what makes happen, and I’d like all of you to join me in letting Stephan know how very much we appreciate all he has done for our community.

People, it has been grand. In just a few score hours I can close the books on 2003, and then, I swear it: I’m going freediving.

See you down there.

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