“**Freediving Editors note: The politics of our sport are becoming more evident on a daily basis as the sport of competitive freediving gains popularity. Today, we received this press communique and felt that it brings to light the importance of a consistant governing body for the sport of freediving. This issue was raised and discussed in our The Unified Certification series of articles we did. Maybe it should be raised again…**
Cliff Etzel – Freediving Editor
Official press release:
Statement and Open Letter of I.A.F.D.’ position concerning the historical conflict and improper attitude of A.I.D.A. towards us and other freediving organizations.
We, at I.A.F.D. believe that in order to properly ensure the understanding and nature of this public gesture, a background and condensed exposure of events leading to this action must be done.
Since its start, the International Association of Freedivers has consistently and continuously tried to “bridge” the gap existing among other Freedivers organizations, including A.I.D.A.
Suffice it to say that their members and judges have been invited, all expenses paid, every facility offered, etc. to participate either as judges or observers in many occasions. Multiple written communications, e-mails, personal letters, international long distance phone calls have been done from our offices to different officials of A.I.D.A. in the best interest of furthering our beloved sport. For reasons of space these are not listed here, but they are available on request.
The response, or for better words, lack of it has been as usual, negative. We continued to insist and finally after great effort on our part, for the first time, Kirk Krak who was also an I.A.F.D. Judge at the time came invited to Aruba as an A.I.D.A. judge, as well as master of ceremony, and official press liaison for the Event. Also a World Record athlete member of A.I.D.A. participated, too.
But, not surprisingly for us, the record was NOT homologated by A.I.D.A. as they have persisted in not recognizing a new modality created by I.A.F.D. added to the sport, we refer to The Tandem No Limits.
There was even a safety issue at hand, when the AIDA judge charged with the measuring and plunging of the rope and dead weight, made a 10 meter (MORE) mistake, that combined with other elements, led to a Hypoxic Incident. Consequently this judge was admonished and invited to have a free re-evaluation and intensive course in Homologation Standard at the I.A.F.D. Headquarters. Since this didn’t happen, he was to be removed from the actual I.A.F.D. list of International Judges. This was done at a later date.
We have adhered to each and every A.I.D.A. specification and much more, as demands obviously became extreme with I.A.F.D. athletes all the while an evident lack of professionalism and seriousness happened with others elsewhere, and yet THEIR records were homologated, despite the fact that, in some instances, the personal trainer, co-member of the athlete, was the unique judge to homologate a record that obviously posed a lot of conflict of interest and appearance of impropriety. Recently this situation occurred in the last Constant Weight Male record where the personal trainer, co-member of the same country team was, in effect, the A.I.D.A. judge who homologated this record.
A clear example of the disparity in treatment is the meticulous measuring, double-checking, redundant depth devices demanded, signed affidavits, and unwavering attention to details that A.I.D.A. displayed during Audrey Mestre’s (I.A.F.D.) last “ No Limits” World Record in Fort Lauderdale, one that AIDA would have you believe it organized, if you didn’t know better. The exigency became so strict that 4 more meters were asked to be added to the rope “ to compensate” for the waves, so an intended 126 meter became a definite 130, when no need for such a “compensation” was evident!
This, compared to the most recent records recognized by A.I.D.A., again solely judged by the athletes trainer, others done in a private pool with no outside observers who would guarantee the application of rules and procedures, and even another one where a total lack of observance of those rules provoked the invalidity of a probably legitimate descend, we are referring to the Deborah Andollo attempt.
Here again, some appearance of conflict of interest might arise as the A.I.D.A. judge who disqualified Miss Andollo is also training a female compatriot for the same specialty and is actually planning an attempt of their own, soon.
The I.A.F.D. has elaborated a strict set of procedures and standards to homologate any athlete, belonging to any Freediving Organization, and has offered its International Judges to work in unison or together with A.I.D.A. or any other organization.
In that same spirit, the I.A.F.D. would gladly organize, promote and help to coach any professional athlete willing and reasonably able to attempt a new record in any specialty.
Further more, I.A.F.D. has submitted applications for the 6 most Senior Instructors Trainers and I.A.F.D. International Judges to become A.I.D.A. Judges in an effort to find a mutual ground, an equivalent and standardized, irreproachable homologation of records. One that will not cast the slightest shadow of a doubt, as it is happening right now.
Those applications are being denied with allegations of incredible “changes of policy”, the “need to create a standard”(what, didn’t they have one before?)…etc.
In view of this flagrant unwillingness to find a common ground, a way to better serve our sport and its athletes who put their reputations, resources and maybe their lives (remember the “mistake of adding 10 meter more in Aruba?) The I.A.F.D. hereby announces that it is severing all contacts with A.I.D.A.
The I.A.F.D. in respect and consideration to the athletes will still recognize all present records. And, by the same token invites the other organizations to work together, to get together, to explore our differences and similitudes, and to finally come up with a standardized, same for everybody, every where, set of homologation rules that the Freediving World can trust.
No further effort will be initiated on the part of the I.A.F.D. towards A.I.D.A. and we have retired from our list of International Judges those who had the dual I.A.F.D. – A.I.D.A. capacity.
Signed: I.A.F.D. Board of Directors, I.A.F.D. Headquarters on 08/27/2001.