In Pictures: Behind The Scenes – 2017 Caribbean Cup and AIDA World Championships In Roatan

Offering athlete support is par for the course. Service with a smile!

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!

Each day starts with a briefing led by chief of safety, Ren Chapman. This is when the team discusses expectations, concerns, etc. more
After the morning meeting the boat is loaded with all kinds of things that are generally pretty heavy (to me). After loading a checklist is announced to make sure all oxygen is filled, boat is fuelled, etc.more
Sometimes the safety guys get to rotate on "shuttle boat duty". As you can see, this coveted position includes shade, smiling, and a boat ride!more
But sometimes they go straight into work mode. Here, the challenge is to connect both of the platforms to the boat that will haul the platforms out to the mooring ball. Fun to watch! more
The platforms are put in line for training and set up for the day. Lines ran and dropped, counter balance rigged and emergency equipment re-checked. more
The safety team generally leaves the competition in shape! more
Offering athlete support is par for the course. Service with a smile!more
Good, efficient safety starts with 3 blow, tap, talks. more
No safeties day is complete without running through scenarios. The one above includes full evacuation of the "victim".more
The evacuation is followed by advanced resuscitation methods. Each safety diver at Caribbean Cup/Worlds 2017 is trained by a doctor in advanced life support.more

Read all the action from the 2017 Caribbean Cup & AIDA Individual World Championships in Roatan.

Photos Courtesy of Alex St Jean