The dynamic competition produced a fair amount of surprises; shocks and dubious disqualifications, which as this go to press are still being considered. For me it was interesting to see just how many were saving themselves for the constant competition and who were really going for it. Monica Hubbard surfaced fifteen metres short of her personal best but was very happy ‘It went really well- not my personal best but I wasn’t training for it, I‘m looking forward to tomorrow’. Annabel Briseno and Natalia Molochanova however were two extraordinary competitors who were both going for the world record. I saw Natalia surface and was consider it to be one of the cleanest performances I have ever seen. Her lips were still pink and when I asked her from the side how it was she yelled ‘Excellent’! This woman can easily break this world record now she has equalled it and I look forward to this new breakthrough.
Stephane Misfud came to the dynamic with all eyes on him after the French championships. His personal best stood at 182m yet he came up short. He was shivering from the cold long after his swim and told me that this was one of the reasons the swim had been so relatively short. ‘I wasn’t good today, one minute before top I was cold and not strong in my head. Some days are good, some bad. Usually I’m good but it was difficult in my head’. He was obviously disappointed but his great performances recently are testimony to his incredible talent.
This mental struggle was most typified by Haydn Welch. A previous personal best of 156m and training in Russia had set his eyes on a dynamic win, and possibly the world record itself. Dynamic is the discipline that Haydn has taken to his heart and this love has meant that he invests all his time and mental energy into it. A samba in Hawaii last year he was determined to avoid and the stress of the event was really getting to him. He spent the whole afternoon away from the crowds under a tree but even this was not enough to still his over active mind and he surfaced after 50. ‘I felt uncomfortable and wasn’t looking forward to the rest of the swim. Maximum dynamics are just so horrible’. Luckily by the evening he was looking more relaxed and agreed that he ‘needed a proper holiday’.
Brent Pascal was the only competitor to swim without fins and was looking at producing one of the biggest dramas of the day. He was hoping to take Herbert Nitsch’s record of 134m and if this came off then Herbert was going to take off his monofin and try and take it back. An imposing figure, Brent did a long and relaxed breathe up by the side of the pool, tranquil despite the amount of people tripping over him. When he came to swim he set off slowly but completely relaxed and came up at 95m with the biggest smile on his face, which stayed for the rest of the day. ‘It was the most relaxed dynamic I’ve ever done, I was able to get my breath hold up prior to the swim, hitting 3.30 so I knew it would be okay’. The swim is a new Canadian national record and he could have gone further except for a little oversight. ‘Well I was thinking why I am so buoyant? It was only when I came up that I saw I had forgotten my neck weight’.
Neck weights were just one of many problems that Herbert Nitsch encountered during his dynamic of 155m. As he prepared in the water he felt that the weight was too tight He tried to loosen it and broke it. There was no tape to hand and he spent precious breathe up time trying to fix it. He then tried to tie up his trunks only to lose the string… Top was called and he set gingerly off in an attempt to avoid a ‘nudity violation’. At ten metres his borrowed goggles flooded. This was not looking good but he swam on. ‘I thought what the heck. The first turn was quite nice and the second, but because of my flooded goggles I didn’t realise I was hitting the surface (a violation). I didn’t want to go too deep because I didn’t want to hit my knees. After the turn at 150 my legs are getting really heavy. No-one had done more so I thought I would come up. I could have gone on for a world record but I would have been disqualified anyway because I had broken the surface with my fin. My aim is for 200 but I don’t know when’. We wait in anticipation!