Tucked awayon the first daybreak line of our earth, New Zealand freedivers prepare for the Apneist’s Challenge tobe held in Wellington. The freediving competitions held in New Zealand arenot to be snuffed at. New Zealand is known for its cold climaticconditions in the winter season and the tough New Zealanders have stagedcompetitions in at Lake Taupo, at high altitude. Taupo is known as an area where other extremesports are practiced, and has the largest commercial tandem skydive drop zonein the world. Lake Taupo reaches some 160metres in depth (maximum 186.8m below chart datum) and the New Zealandersgo there to train in the warmer months. Thesurface temperature in the coldest winter has reached 10°C and the summeraverage 18°C (up to 25°C in shallows in summer). It is not for the fainthearted. In spite of these conditions, New Zealand’stop divers set three new National Records in the Constant Weight discipline inthe last competition.
Thecompetition held at Taupo, named Apnea at Altitude (the district of Lake Taupois 370 metres above sea level), puts divers under abnormal dive conditions dueto the effects of training under reduced barometric pressure and lower oxygenlevels. It is thought that freedivingathletes who dive under these conditions will have a higher concentration ofred blood cells for 10-14 days, giving them a competitive advantage.
Theupcoming competition to be held in Wellingtonis a pool competition with Static and Dynamic Apnea as the competingdisciplines. Entries for the competitionhave just closed and there are 10 competitors: Chris Marshall, Clemens Neumann(from Berlin),Craig Young, Gavin Gray, Guy Brew, Kerian Hibbs, Marcus Thompson, Phil Clayton,Ruth Griffin (UK) and Kathryn McPhee. Aneed for more female competitors is evident. The competition runs from 10 to 11 May at the PoriruaPool, Wellington. More informationand results can be found on www.lazyseal.co.nz.