On Tuesday, May 12th, 2015 Shell Eisenberg made history. Just shy of her 24th birthday, the freediving instructor from Northern California smashed a long standing USA women’s national record in the pool discipline of dynamic no-fins (DNF) with a stunning performance of 125m in a dive time of two minutes and :49 seconds at the PFI Deja Blue 6 competition in Cayman.
“I’ve been training quietly for the past eight months; I feel really lucky in that most of my training is just me diving in the ocean everyday! I live in a place (Hawaii) where I can do that,” said Eisenberg. ” I’m also very fortunate to have had some excellent coaching from my friend Jessica Hill, who was a competitive swimmer, she was super helpful in working on my technique with me.“
In fact the very first time Shell ever even attempted a dynamic swim was only a year ago, where she came up at 75 meters.
“I’m the most unlikely athlete in my family, and did not grow up participating in any sports,” Shell chuckled. “My fascination of being in the water and freediving has evolved over the last five years and taken my parents and brother by surprise! I’m super psyched about reaching this goal and will be looking to achieve more personal goals in depth. If the records come it’s a pretty incredible feeling! Watching Mandy-Rae Krack (nee Cruickshank) is really inspirational — she is the most graceful person I’ve ever seen underwater; her perfect technique, the beauty of her dives – makes me want to improve too.“
Shell’s idea of the perfect freedive is typically being in the water with animals; observing all types of marine-life and experiencing nature first-hand. While Shell’s favorite discipline is constant weight (CWT), she really wanted to try her hand at DNF and give it some focus. She knew she wanted to try it while at Deja Blue 6 but kept it quiet to keep any outside pressure off. She strategically decided to make her attempt early in the competition (on the second day) and even took a break from the ocean diving in the morning so she could be as ready as possible.
“I spent the whole morning being nervous about it, but when I got to the pool my nerves disappeared and I just thought about the individual tasks at hand like stretching and warming up. In my final breathe-up I just kept telling myself ‘one length at a time’.”
At 50 meters a negative thought crept into Shell’s mind but she pushed off the wall and kept going, leaving the doubt in her wake and using the moment to optimize her normal four strokes across to an accelerated 3 strokes per pool length, gliding into record setting status.
Deja Blue 6 organizer Kirk Krack was not surprised by the outcome of Shell’s dive.
“We are very proud of Shell Eisenberg (one of our lead staff Instructors at PFI) for setting the new American women’s DNF record at 125m, especially since the previous record (of 120m) was on the books for 6 years. Shell’s work ethic and dedication to perfecting technique shows that the person who is the most committed wins.“
photos © Alicia Franco, & Francesca Koe