Nothing is better than showing up to a freediving competition as an athlete.
Arriving with a clear set of goals and a plan to execute, nothing can stand in your way. You are told when and where to arrive at the boat for training. And there it is, the boat, on time every day. Your bag is expertly packed with high protein snacks for after your dive and some kind of designer water mixture to keep you maximally hydrated. You’re told exactly when your training dive is scheduled and plan your warm up accordingly. Is that someone talking too loudly? Give them a nice dirty look as you sink back into your relaxation state. When it’s time, don your superhuman wetsuit, which has been laid out perfectly beside you until the appointed time, and slips into the ocean, shining like a star.
Each part of the training is just for you. You are a prince you know! The safeties are there, at hand, to make sure you’re safe on the line, fetch the brand new lanyard (is that a spot of rust?!?) you left on the boat in your meditative stupor, or scratch your back if you can’t reach. A foot rub would be nice. Should you ask?? When you return from the one training dive you’ll do all day, everyone is supportive, clapping for you. It’s just like having Mom there right next to you. You are the BEST no matter how deep or shallow your dive! Now that that’s over, head back to the boat little prince and eat your snack, at your leisure of course. Oh yeah, and when the boat takes you back to the beach. Have a hot shower and a nap…but only if you want to.
Perhaps my view of the competitive dive is a little cynical. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE competing and plan on doing it again as soon as baby two is out the gate. However, I’ve worked the other side of the coin too. I’ve worked as a safety diver and am married to a chronic safety diver, Ren Chapman. I have an insiders guide to exactly what the safety team does to keep the machine so well oiled. The ordeal starts at 6:00 am and doesn’t let up until at least 5:00 pm. That’s a good long stretch in a stinky, clammy wetsuit. That alone is enough to curl my precious competitors’ skin. And that’s just the suit. The safeties aren’t just out on the lines making repetitive 30m and 20m dives all day (though wouldn’t that be enough?).
Below is a photo journal taking you on a long, arduous day with this year’s Caribbean Cup and World Championships safety team. Enjoy from your air conditioned perch and think about buying your next safety diver a smoothie!
Photos Courtesy of Alex St Jean