Tuesday, July 23, 2024
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The FIT Gulfstream Invitational

I always love getting down to Ft. Lauderdale to dive with the FIT gang, but I wasn’t sure what kind of weather I was going to encounter when I flew into Ft. Lauderdale on Friday, August 22. Tropical Storm Fay had been zig-zagging all over the state, seemingly unwilling to leave.  She’d moved off to the panhandle by my arrival, but I still had to wonder; what kind of after-effects would we be dealing with out in the ocean?  Luckily for all involved with this first-time event, aside from some strong currents at depth (and a little bit of chop), the weather was fantastic, with sunny skies, and warm water with good visibility.  Two competitors had to drop out due to Fay, leaving the event with six competitors; Tony Babowicz, Chris Harris, David McGivern, Jan Mojs, Niki Roderick, and Jared Schmelzer.  We also had a GREAT safety crew, with yours truly counted among the safety freedivers.


Today’s events consisted of Constant Weight dives, with Niki going first in what would be her first national record attempt of the event.  After having to change our location 3 times to find a solid current that went all the way down to 55m, we were ready to start.  The results of the day’s dives were as follows:

Niki, AP 55m CNF; DQ due to blackout on surface (it was very fast, though, she came around almost instantly!)

Jared, AP 55m CWT; DQ due to a technicality (Jared’s warm-up was somehow mis-timed, and he came up without his tag).

Jan, AP 46m CWT; DQ due to blackout on surface

Chris, AP 39m CWT; awarded white card

Tony, AP 37m CWT; awarded white card

David, AP 31m CWT; awarded white card


Today would find us in the swimming pool of the  Pompano Aquatic Center, for the Static and Dynamic Apnea competitions.  Five competitors, with the following results:

David, AP 3:00; 4:01 achieved, white card awarded

Jan, AP 4:00; 5:10 achieved, white card awarded

Chris, AP 4:00; DQ due to blackout

Jared, AP 4:00, 4:10 achieved, white card awarded

Tony, AP 4:41, 4:51 achieved, white card awarded

A few hours of resting later, it was back into the pool for Dynamic, now down to four competitors, with Chris sitting this round out due to his static blackout;

Jared, AP 51m; 109m achieved, white card awarded

David, AP 80m; 82m achieved, DQ due to airway submersion during SP

Jan, AP 100m; 100m achieved, DQ due to blackout (this was also my first blackout “catch”, as I was Jan’s safety diver!)

Tony, AP 75m DNF; 121m achieved, DQ due to blackout. 

Tony’s performance was simply AMAZING, with him being underwater for over 2:30!  He was disappointed that he’d pushed himself to 121m (he only needed 118m to gain the new national record), but we’re all 100% POSITIVE that he’ll do it on his next attempt!  I’ve already told him that I WILL be training with him when I move down to Ft. Lauderdale next month, he’s just so amazing at DNF!With the pool events wrapped up, the competition was officially over, but Jared had been granted permission to re attempt his 55m CWT dive during the next day’s AIDA rankings session.  So, after the long day in the pool, we all headed out to some well-deserved rest.


Today, it was back out into the blue, for the first day of AIDA rankings, and two re-attempted dives by Niki and Jared.  First up was Niki, who announced a CNF dive to 53m.  After battling some rather severe currents below 20m, she surfaced, finished her dive cleanly, and claimed a new National Women’s CNF Record for New Zealand, putting her 3rd in the world rankings for women’s CNF!  We were all very happy for her, and it was touching to see Martin quietly celebrating with her, carrying her around in his arms in the water.  Next up was Jared, with his second attempt at his 55m CWT dive for competition points.  He finished cleanly and earned his white card, which gave us the competition’s official final standings;

1st Place: Jared Schmelzer

2nd Place: Tony Babowicz

3rd Place: David McGivern

Jared was very happy that he had a solid dive, and that everything he’d learned was coming together.  I asked him to give me some insight into his mental process.  He strives to keep focused, get his entry and sequence right, and to find a balance of speed vs. efficiency.  He said that his message to everyone is to “Keep progressing”.  Jared also received more good news, as AIDA judge Grant Graves informed him that, due to a drop out, he had been bumped up from alternate to team member on Team USA for Worlds in Egypt!  He was grinning from ear to ear, and his joy and enthusiasm were contagious, spreading to everyone on the boat!  The day’s dives finished with Jan attempting a 40m CWT, but suffering yet another blackout.  Jan is an excellent diver, however, and Martin was sure that, since Jan routinely does deeper dives for fun, he was just a victim of “first-time competition nerves”.  David wrapped everything up with a nice, clean FIM dive to 37m.

Day four saw the group down to two divers, Jared and Tony.  Chris was also slated to dive, but decided against it when he had early contractions during his warm-up.  Jared surprised everyone by pulling a clean CWT to 58m, and Tony did a clean 41m CWT.  That evening found us having a nice celebration dinner, with prizes that were graciously donated by Austin’s Dive Shop being given to the winners, as well as a nicely engraved trophy for 1st place winner Jared.  The next morning would be busy for some of us, with four of us heading for the airport; me back to Ohio, and Martin, Niki, and Jared off to Egypt.  The evening was a great end to a great event, one that was a lot of fun, very educational, and filled with some very impressive performances as well.  As for myself, I was also able to end this trip on a more cheerful note, as I knew that it would only be a month before I’d be moving down to Ft. Lauderdale.  Finally living near the ocean and the gang, I’d soon be able to ramp up my own training, and I’m sure I’ll start pulling some impressive performances myself!  So, my fellow divers, until next time…..