Vertical Blue 2016 will likely go on record as the most successful freediving competition of all time, garnering an impossible to imagine three world records (at one event) and an overall staggering total of 38 national records worldwide. Not to mention the sheer volume of positive news coverage generated around what was once a fairly unknown and insular sport — a sport which continues to grow both in popularity and in recognition of the tremendous effort each of these freediving athletes make on every single dive. It is also impossible to truly measure how significantly this competition (and the freediving community) have helped the (once storm-torn) island of Long Island remain both resilient & forward moving in their hard-fought recovery from Hurricane Joaquin; a storm which may have ravaged homes but did not take optimism.

Beauty and strength – the Japanese women epitomize the grace of freediivng (photo by Howard Holtzman)

The number of personal bests and individual remarkable moments at Vertical Blue 2016 are simply too many to list but here is a recap of who won the competition by score of points.

The overall winners for the Women were:
First Place: Sofia Gomez Uribe of Colombia
Second Place: Sayuri Kinoshita of Japan
Third Place: Kate Middleton of New Zealand

And the overall winners for the Men were:
First Place: William Trubridge of New Zealand
Second Place: Stig Pryds of Denmark
Third Place: Dean Chaouche of Great Britain

The grand prize winners each took home a welcome cash prize of $1,500.00, as well as a Suunto D6i Novo and Masimo MightySat.

“The competition is over! I’m so happy with my results because Vertical Blue, as  competitions go, is long and very hard — 11 difficult days, most of all mentally taxing.” waxed Sofia Gomez, “But I did it, and although there were bumps in the road, I got over them. To the world’s greatest trainer Jonathan Sunnex without you, none of this would be possible. I love you!”

Super strong ladies, Jessea, Sofia and Tomoka (photo by Howard Holtzman)

Having accomplished setting two world records in nearly as many days, (now) 17x World Record Holder and #VB2016 host William Trubridge had this to say upon reflection.

“I wasn’t expecting to achieve these (WRs) coming into the comp. My training had been interrupted by several injuries and viruses, so I hand’t been hitting these kind of depths prior to the event. However, once I started competing I felt really good, and my first two dives in Free Immersion (FIM), to 116m and 119 meters, felt very good and I decided to go for it!”

The deepest men in free immersion, Stig Pryds, William Trubridge and Ryuzo Shinomiya (photo by Howard Holtzman)

“I’d also really like to thank our #VB2016 sponsors including Masimo, X-Adventurer, Suunto, and UK-Germany, who help make these AIDA freediving competitions a reality. And an extra-special ‘thank you’ to my tireless safety & production teams – I’m grateful for all the time, energy & care you contribute to Vertical Blue; you make it all come together seamlessly and you create an atmosphere of terrific support.”

A triumphant Stephen Keenan and his safety team (photo by Howard Holtzman)
The faces behind the production’s cameras, copy, and tweets! (photo by Howard Holtzman)
VB2016 platform coordinator, Sam Trubridge, and beach coordinator Oliver Smdt (photo by Howard Holtzman)

Watch the final wrap up video, including aerial & underwater footage from Trubridge’s 124m record setting dive here below.