After weeks and weeks of rain and floods, the sun finally showed it’s face as freedivers headed towards the National Diving and Activity Centre in Chepstow for the SaltFree Double Dip on 28th and 29th July 2007.
This year’s UK Championships in Constant Weight and Constant Weight No Fins, the Double Dip was the third major competition hosted by SaltFree Divers and this time 13 athletes and about another 30 safety crew came from all over the UK and further afield, to take part.
On Saturday, freedivers competed with fins or a monofin, showing just how deep they can dive on a single breath. The sun lit up the green waters of the quarry as the top divers made their way down into the depths. Multiple record-holder, Sara Campbell, who lives and trains in Dahab, Red Sea, performed a stunningly comfortable 60m dive. This is the deepest any female has ever dived in the UK on one breath.
One of the main ideas behind Double Dip was to encourage new freedivers to join in, so there were plenty of first-time competitors. Feargus Callagy came over from Ireland in his van to set what is believed to be a new Irish record at 31m, Constant Weight. David Tranfield from Sheffield dived in cold water for the first time and reached 35m. Anna von Boetticher from Germany was well on the way to winning "Best Newbie" at the competition, with a cool, calm 43m dive.
Saturday night was party time, or rather a fairly civilised dinner, what with the threat of another day under the watchful eye of judges.
On Sunday the sun was out again, and the mood more relaxed. Everyone had now had their first experience of green quarry water and was happy with it. This being the first ever UK "Constant Weight No Fins" competition, no-one knew quite what to expect. Claire Klomp and Alix Leclerc made "Opener" dives. Mark Harris then started the official proceedings having announced the deepest dive without fins. A real all-rounder, Mark casually and comfortably swam down, using a modified breast-stroke technique, to 40m and back, a depth most freedivers struggle to get to with a huge pair of fins!
It was not just the "pros" who did well without fins. David Tranfield made 25m with very little training or experience. Anna von Boetticher did well yet again with a 28m dive and Georgina Miller’s long legs and shiny silver suit took her down to 17m and back.
At the end of the day, the scores put Anna von Boetticher as Best Newbie, taking home a smart trophy from Bristol Blue Glass. David Tranfield was just beyond and received "Second Best Newbie".
For the women, third place went to Liv Philip, second place to Anna von Boetticher, and with the deepest dives by a woman ever in Chepstow, the winner was Sara Campbell.
Third place for the men went to Tim Money, second place to Ben Noble and the winner, Mark Harris.
Next year’s competition, probably in July again, will be another Double Dip with an option of Free Immersion.
The competition was sponsored by Bristol Blue Glass, National Diving and Activity Centre and the British Freediving Association.
For more information on SaltFree take a look at www.saltfreedivers.com.