PFD Cayman 2004: March 22 Update

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           Late last night, at the Cobalt Coast Resort’s WiFi –equipped Duppies Bar, a real duppy laid a hand on the Performance Freediving Cayman 2004 event. The duppy is a Caribbean spirit being, one who is, shall we say, not always benevolent. And so it happened that late last night, not long after I’d filed yesterday’s story, there came a setback in the form of a terse email from AIDA.

 The bar is where we do our internet-ing. We’d retired there after splendid victory dinner,  Mandy and Kirk still triumphal and glowing from her world-beating constant ballast dive earlier in the day. Martin sat apart from the others, considering his failed attempt on the 100- meter mark,  preparing himself for his next. Screening video rushes on his laptop, Kirk idly opened his email program from time to time, working his way through the very, very large number of inbound messages that pile up during a long day on the water. Especially on a day like this, where congratulations are in order.

And there, insinuated between the kudos, was the bad news: AIDA would not recognize any Free Immersion record by Mandy during this event.  A close audit of the regulations had discovered the indisputable fact that Mandy’s prerequisite dive had been done before the 3-month window in which a record attempt must be done. Prerequisite dive and record dive must be done within 3 months, full stop.

Very bad news, indeed.

Years of dreams, months and months of arduous training and sacrifice, not to mention the considerable personal expenses she incurred in pursuing this goal, all melted away in a heartbeat in a tropical seaside bar with reggae sounds counterpointed by crashing surf.

Oh, well.

 The rules, Kirk reminded everyone, are the rules. “We made ‘em, and we’ll abide by them.” Driving back to the lodgings through the dark, twisty paths of West Bay, Mandy’s resolve had already reconstituted itself.

“We take the high road as athletes !” she declared. “ These are the rules. The rules say I can make two more attempts at Constant Ballast, and say I can increase my depth by 3 meters each time. Do the math !”

So, I did the math.

 Prediction: Mandy Rae Cruickshank leaves this rock at event’s end with a women’s Constant Ballast world record of 84 meters under her belt. Yes, 78, 81, 84. That’s the math. 

Martin. Martin is more determined than ever. He is not familiar with failure, and does not like it. Tuesday, March 23, he’ll attempt a Free Immersion dive in the 102 –104 meter range, and then, later in the week, return to the mystical century mark for Constant Ballast. That last dive was flawed. He knows it, and he’s been crunching the data non-stop, but calmly and rationally, ever since. I had a long talk with him about it today, and came away convinced he can pull it off. It is not an easy thing,such a dive,   not even for Martin Stepanek. This is where the mettle of a person is tested, at the margins. This guy is not the kind to come up short.

It may be a near-run thing, but I think he’ll do it.

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

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