First and foremost I would like to congratulate the event organizers and athletes for making the first Pacific Cup of Freediving a great success.
I would also like to acknowledge the hard work and dedicated efforts of the many volunteer staff, safety divers and in particular safety divers Leo, Kaz and Matt, whom I incorrectly represented in my first report when, regarding Karoline’s blackout, I stated: ‘ The safety divers on hand, although not at depth, did make a quick recovery and she was quickly brought around.’
In fact these safety divers, anticipating a potential problem based on the previous practice day, sent the ‘down’ safety 30 seconds earlier and 5m deeper than normal. As a result they were right there when Karoline blacked out at 15m for a well executed recovery.
The event organizers had clearly found their rhythm for this third and final day. Everything went very smoothly. With dynamic being held as an individual event (team competition wrapped up and winners already decided), spirits were high and athletes and spectators cheered on their friends and heroes.
A long list of competitors made their best efforts and once again a number of personal bests were achieved. The top ten performances of the day were:
Sorry Pools’ closed
On arrival Sunday morning a giant diesel pick up rolled up next to me in the parking lot. I looked up at the small middle-aged woman in the drivers seat. Her mouth was moving but all I could hear was the rattling teeth of 350 bridled horses under its hood. Bathing suit and towel in hand she tried again. "Is – the – pool – open – today?!!"
The ants go marching
Two by two competitors occupied the far lanes on opposite sides of the pool. Each lane had its own compliment of safety divers (above and below) and Judges entourage following the length of each performance.
There were many exciting performances peppered with the occasional samba throughout the day. With nothing to loose, many of the competitors really went for it. There were at least two national no-fins record attempts (Canadian and Danish) and an unsuccessful Dynamic world record attempt by Herbert Nitsche.
Overall the event went very well and again the staff and safety volunteers made their best efforts. Highlights of the day included:
- Watching the friendly rivalry between Annabel Briseno (USA) and Mandy-Rae Cruickshank (CAN), who both set new National Records.
- An Australian impression of the extremely rare Bright-backed Watergroaner, (Directus Interuptis) known for its unique sounding breathe-up and tendency to reverse direction every 5 meters.
- The infective good cheer and camaraderie of Team Venezuela
- Tom Lightfoot’s (CAN) personal best 105m performance
- Karoline Meyer’s (BRA) second dramatic underwater blackout
- Various Coach dunkings
- Watching the crowd jockey for position as Herbert made his final turn
- Brett LeMaster’s entourage of Japanese women who laughed and giggled at every word he spoke
- Deron Verbeck (USA), a gracious and rock-solid competitor
- Stig Severinsen’s (DEN) no-fins dynamic apnea record of 121m (in a 50m pool).
Sing a long
The Awards dinner celebration was held in the picturesque gardens of the Ohana Keauhou Beach Resort. After a terrific dinner the crowd was treated to a fantastic video of the event, made by budding filmmaker Alex Farnham.
One by one all the teams were called to the front to receive participation mementos and accolades from the crowd. Once the parade was over the awards ceremony began and the party really got started.
Primed with food and good times the jubilant Venezuelans and Brazilians started up an impromptu sing a long, which provided the entertainment as everyone made the rounds. Shirts, fins and various body parts quickly filled up with signatures and many new friends exchanged coordinates.
As I said goodbye to my new friends I overheard many say that this was the cleanest contest both performance-wise and operationally so far. Others spoke about raising the bar, with expectations of numerous 80+m divers. I can only imagine what is still to come.
Far from over, the party soon re-located to the White Sands beach. Skinny-dippers got their last taste of the warm Pacific and everyone talked about getting together again next year. Then the cops came…
What I did this summer
For many of us the Pacific Cup of Freediving was the culmination of many months of training, hard work and commitment. It was also a fantastic learning opportunity for everyone involved.
More than that though it was a celebration of our community. One in which we had the opportunity to share our deep passion for the ocean and our own personal commitment to excellence.
For these many wonderful experiences, in and out of the water, I am most grateful.
For these and many other images from the Pacific Cup of Freediving, please contact Michael Darden: [email protected]