Tanya Streeter – Challenges and Learning

To say that Tanya Streeter has been very busy this year would be an understatement. On May 11th 2001 in Guadeloupe, French West Indies, she set a World Record in the Women’s Salt Water Constant Ballast category, diving to 230ft/70m in 2 mins 36 seconds, bettering her previous record of 220ft/67m. This massive challenge came a mere 5 days after she achieved the same depth in the Free Immersion category and came within 3m/10ft of the men’s world record depth! With that dive she added an impressive 10m/33ft to the previous women’s record.

Tanya also became the first professional freediver to voluntarily submit to drug testing – which is now required by AIDA but stated "I am in full agreement due to the highly competitive nature of the sport now." The procedure is the same one used by the International Olympic Committee. "There has already been an incident of one diver being disqualified from competition due to illegal substance after being tested." She added.

When preparing for her recent record attempt – Tanya had a short test period training at high altitude in Switzerland in January – then during the months of February, March and April she trained in Guadaloupe where she was to attempt her records, which she accomplished without incident. Tanya feels that going to these measures is necessary for her particular style of training, due to among other things, her being located in Austin, Texas. When I asked her about the mental aspects of diving at great depth, she confidently stated, "I don’t feel that I have reached my limits yet." No arrogance in her statement, just self-confidence.

Tanya splits her time between Training and PR work. The training is done in a mixture of Aerobic and Anaerobic, with durations of 2 to 4 hours per day. Pool training along with weight training, normally and while breath holding makes up the bulk of her general training regimen. She doesn’t practice Yoga, instead relying upon proven scientific principles of training, massive cardio work along with breath hold training. The PR work is to promote the sport of freediving, and to give it more positive exposure.

She recently returned from New Zealand, where a production company working with National Geographic invited her to document her diving to 100 meters on a dive sled. Upon arrival, it was apparent that the conditions were horrible. 60-degree water temps and 50-degree air temps were what she and the production crew were greeted with. The conditions were an omen in a sense to what lie in store for Tanya on this trip. She was well over 2 months out of training, but in itself the depth wasn’t a problem for her. The idea was to film her descending on a dive sled, only problem being that she hadn’t been on one in over 3 years. Still, she thought it wouldn’t be any big deal.

The initial plan was to do 5 dives on the sled, but again, the conditions were such that only 2 were actually made. Due to the location, she was only able to attempt 80 meters on the first dive. That’s when things began to go awry. At 73 meters, the line wrapped around a reef where she hit while descending on the sled. She began to try and inflate the lift bag that was to take her safely back to the surface. It malfunctioned. She struggled with it for at least 30 seconds, all the while still holding the original breath she took at the surface, until she made the decision to swim back to the surface on her own power. Because the rope was still around the reef and wind at the surface made the boat swing dramatically, the line was at an angle. This meant she was forced to return to the surface at an angle to follow the line. Upon surfacing, instead of taking a breath, Tanya tried to speak, and this initiated her to blackout for the first time in many years. "All of these factors contributed to this" says Tanya. "I had no preparation and this was the result. I was solely responsible and it shook me mentally that I had exposed the safety team to potential danger. They handled it brilliantly."

After her portion of filming was completed, she taught some well-received freediving clinics around New Zealand before heading to her next destination.

Hawaii

Tanya was headed to Hawaii for the U.S Freediving Trials. Again, it seems that the omen of New Zealand was following her to her dive locations. "I was given the opportunity to buy my way onto the team, but I felt that wouldn’t be right" Tanya said. Instead, she competed like the rest of the hopefuls for a spot on the team. Again, technical mishaps were the course of the day when she went to do her constant ballast dive of 50 meters to qualify for the team. Evidently the safety divers had been using the line used by the competitors for their safety stops instead of their own, and as such as Tanya was descending, she crashed into one at 25 meters. She ascended without further incident; understandably frustrated at the situation. Quite upset about the incident, she still was able to qualify along with 2 other women and 3 men to form the U.S Team that will be present at the AIDA World Freediving Championships in Ibiza, Spain October 4 – 14.

Tanya has been named Team Coach, which she feels honored to be named. She will compete in both the Static Apnea and Constant Ballast events – where her strength is in the Constant Ballast category.

Between the latter part of August and the Worlds in October, Tanya will be heading to Austria, where she will be in training and will attempt to break several fresh water lake dive records.

Her Ethos is one to be respected and even emulated…

Challenge yourself, and in the process you learn more about yourself.

Look for future news on Tanya’s record attempts here on Deeper Blue!