This weekend saw the third annual LA Apnea Challenge take place in Los Angeles at the Culver City Municipal Plunge pool. A grand total of 18 freedivers from all across the Americas arrived to offer their best performances in the three pool freediving disciplines of static, dynamic no-fins, and dynamic. Athletes from Australia, Italy, Serbia and Mexico participated representing AIDA, Performance Freediving International and F.I.I. schools as well as some brand new apneists from the east coast.
Thanks to the support of Harry of Freedive N Spear (the real shop in Hermosa) and other sponsors like Aqua Lung & Suunto this once small and regional competition has evolved into a record-setting international event. Taking first place overall with the most points, as well as first place for the men was Ben Weiss, who was accompanied by Lena Jovanovic in first place for the women. Weiss, a frequent safety diver at Trubridge’s Vertical Blue, swam a personal best Dynamic of 150m to cement his lead, which was not clear until the last day as the men’s field offered a great deal of drama vis a vis failed surface protocols and other disqualifications.
Jovanovic, (who holds national titles for Serbia and swims for SurfFur & Agilos Solutions) has taken the female gold for two years running now. “I really enjoy the camraderie of this competition. And I am very grateful to my coach Richard Balta, who is simply the best!” Lena espoused.
The comp proved that Alfredo Romo Hernandez is still the strongest contender hailing from Mexico with a big swim of 120m no-fins — a national record. Romo Hernandez could have taken two records home, were it not for a small heel break in his 180m dynamic swim.
The leaderboard included:
Ben Weiss 190.1
Lena Jovanovic 180.7
Jenna McGrath 174.1
Joe Surma 161.7
Brandon Gross 155.6
Chiara Mazzasette 150.1
“I am simply overwhelemed by the dedication of discipline & passion these freedivers have for this sport.” said Dan Rodarte the California Regional Manager for Aqua Lung. “This was my first time to observe a freediving event and I am thoroughly excited to see future competitions and the successes of all of the participants.”
Congratulations to the organizers, Carla Hanson & DeeDee Flores, and everyone involved.
photo © Francesca Koe