We’ve had word from SaltFree uber-chief Sam Kirby that they have chosen their Mermaid. Here is what Sam has to say:
The Mermaid Challenge was launched back in May to try and find some top new female freediving talent in the UK. Around 30 girls entered from all over the country, of all ages and with varying levels of experience. The first selection was run in swimming pools in Bristol and London where everyone took part in Static and Dynamic Apnea attempts and finally got to really get competitive with some underwater hockey. From there, seven were invited to the National Diving and Activity Centre in Chepstow to try some deep freediving on the SaltFree Pontoon.
After three weekends of trials at Chepstow, we have finally made up our minds.
The Saltfree Mermaid for 2005/2006 is Mandy Buckley from Crewe in Cheshire. Mandy is 32 and a keen scuba diver. For several years now she has been diving regularly in cold lakes with all her technical kit – now she is going to try and do it without!
We chose Mandy for a variety of reasons. She was immediately very at home and comfortable in the water and with the monofin. With very little coaching, she achieved some impressive depths, distances and static times. Most importantly, all of those from Saltfree who have trained with her felt that she had the right combination of enthusiasm and madness to keep her keenly diving in a cold quarry all winter! We will see if we are right.
The next installment of the Mermaid Diaries will be published soon on www.deeperblue.net in which we will let Mandy introduce herself and tell you how she feels about the task ahead of her!
Saltfree would like to thank Deeper Blue and Suunto for their support of the Mermaid Challenge. Sam would like to thank Scubazone in London, Subaquaholics in Bristol, Remi, Franck, Ed, Dave and Lammy for their help with the selection events.