Saturday, June 15, 2024
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Something Happened

From where I sit, in this place that Hurricane Katrina just kissed on the cheek before going on to bigger and better things, the world has become a confusing place. The sense of jamais vu is formidable, as they say in France and used to say in New Orleans when things were being said there. The thing at Villefranche-sur-Mer went down, but not like I thought it would.

But that’s just me. Somebody must have predicted this outcome. The handicapping, the friendly wagers and Tarot card readings flying over the internet were, possibly, even more intense than the AIDA World Constant Weight championships themselves. Those who can’t do, forecast. Those who can’t forecast predict which forecasters will cast the right fore. I give up. Pass the popcorn, please.

If you haven’t seen the results yet, have a look.

Two world records.

Natalia Molchanova, for the women and for Russia, at 86 meters. Natalia is 45 years old. As a Kotik, and as an old guy myself, I can’t help but feel a kind of atavistic pride in this mind-blower. My Dad, who still speaks Russian sometimes, told me years ago that if freediving competition were ever properly organized on a global scale, the Russians would come and eat everybody else’s lunch. Congratulations, Natalia. Get in touch – Deeper Blue’s linguistics department will arrange to interview the new Empress in her native tongue, as is only proper.

Carlos Coste, my young neighbor from Venezuela ( a distant suburb of Miami, for those of you unfamiliar with the New World floor plan ) has got his due, which nobody can deny: 105 meters, victory by a knockout -sorry, Herbert- and a world record. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy. Way to go, mi amigo. Next time you come to town for a haircut or supplies, dinner’s on me.

There’s a lot of blue out there, too. I don’t have anything from the deposed royalty, Mr. Stepanek and Ms. Cruickshank. They are both much more mature than I am, despite their tender years, so I don’t suppose they’re taking it as hard as I would. I’d be in a place where… well, it would ruin my chances of getting elected to public office, let’s leave it at that. I’ll see Martin soon, when he gets back home to Florida, and trainer Kirk Krack shortly thereafter when he shows up here on the grinding, relentless clinic trail. If I know people, the plans for reconquista are already being formed.

The reign of Carlos and Natalia is already the target of a vast worldwide conspiracy. That’s what’s so cool about competitive freediving at the world level – the world is a big place.

My prediction: next year, the scene will be dominated by people you haven’t even heard of yet. The intake scoop is wide open, and serious athletes, many with world gold in other sports, are fixing a bead on freediving. It had to happen – freediving is the democratic revolution of the athletic world. It is by the athletes, of the athletes and for the athletes. The roar of the crowd is unheard down there where it’s cold and squeezy, no Rothmans billboards, no televised glory. It’s for us, and that’s why year by year, the really serious sports people on this planet are coming in. The megaheart-superlung subspecies of homo sapiens aquaticus.

So, as beautiful and wondrous as the new world records are, I believe they are just the beginning. The middle of the beginning, let’s say, not the beginning of the beginning. The pioneering area is over. The new republic is built, and now they will come.

Lance ? You listening ? Got freediving ?

Paul Kotik
Paul Kotik
Paul Kotik has been a Staff Writer and Freediving Editor for He lives in Florida, USA with his family.


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