Saturday and Sunday, the 4th and 5th of September, 2004, saw two UK freediving records fall to Alun George and Sam Still.
Alun took the Men’s Constant Weight record with a dive to 76 metres lasting 2 minutes and 21 seconds, whilst current British Champion, Sam Still, took the Men’s record for Constant Weight/No Fins with a dive to 51 metres of 1 minute 54 seconds duration.
Both dives took place in the quarry ‘Dorothea’, in North Wales, where both men train.
Alun’s record bested the one of 68 metres set by Sam at the Vancouver championships, whilst Sam’s breaks the previous record of 25 metres set by Marcus Greatwood.
Both men like as little fuss as possible and so just a few divers came together to help out, along with the AIDA Judges John Moorcroft and Ben Gowland and the Doctor, Paul Taylor.
Conditions were typical of Dorothea, overcast with light rain and a surface temperature of 15 degrees (c); temperature at depth was 4 degrees (c) and remains constant year round. Surface visibility was good at 10m+ but it was dark at depth due to the thick plankton layer at 15-20m.
On the Saturday, Alun first broke the record with a dive to 75 metres and then dived again on Sunday to increment it by another metre, as the judges and doctor were both conveniently present.
Both Alun and Sam have been training up to 3 times a week over the summer. The group of divers they train with has a practice of increasing depth very gradually and repeating each new depth at least twice before going deeper. Alun had already done several dives beyond 70 metres before the record attempt, and had surpassed the target depth in training. This meticulous preparation cast the record attempts as ‘just another dive with my friends’. Likewise, Sam had dived his target depth several times in training, and so both men surfaced clean and smiling!
Safety is always paramount for this group and they have a very fast and effective rescue system using lanyards and a reel, which doesn’t need scuba divers. They test it often, sometimes just for an lazy ride up from the bottom.
I asked Alun and Sam why they wanted to go for the records and they agreed that the most important reason was to encourage diving in the UK and help push on UK standards. ‘We’ve always lagged behind the rest of the world, and especially behind countries with similar diving conditions, like Germany and Sweden’. They wanted to show that you didn’t have to go abroad to break records or achieve depth, and hope that their achievements will get more people diving in the UK.
I’m certain we’ll continue to see great things from the pair of them and many more UK divers in the future. Congratulations Alun and Sam!