On day five of Vertical Blue 2017 (#VB2017), the conditions at Deans Blue Hole were nearly perfect. And competitive freediver Hanako Hirose herself was in perfect condition to not only achieve a new national record for Japan but to set the bar for other female freedivers.

Hanako's white card satisfaction (photo © Daan Verhoeven)
Hanako’s white card satisfaction (photo © Daan Verhoeven)

A petite & bubbly blonde Hanako’s small frame and sweet personality belie the steely strength and power that she possesses. In a dive time of 3min 26sec Hanako became the first Japanese woman, ever to 100 meters depth. Simultaneously she took on an even bigger mantle of being the first female freediver to successfully complete such an amazing dive to 100m in a competition after the legendary Natalia Molchanova. It was befitting that Natalia’s daughter, Oksana Molchanova, was in the arena watching Hanako and performing at the event herself as a judge. It all somehow felt like the torch was being passed and that the future freediving for the ladies was shining brightly.

Hanako descends to her destiny (photo © Daan Verhoeven)
Hanako descends to her destiny (photo © Daan Verhoeven)

“GO GO HANAKO!” chirped world record holder and BFF

chirped world record holder and BFF Sayuri Kinoshita, as she waited for her friend to the surface, all the while videoing the whole scene for friends back home in Japan to enjoy later. It was as if Sayuri and of Japan knew what Hirose could do, even before Hanako realized it herself.

Hanako’s training in Japan mostly consisted of work-outs in the pool,” shared Japanese safety diver Sayaka Itagaki, “She did not do much ocean training back home, and in pre-comp preparation here at Deans Blue Hole, although Hanako’s PB is much deeper she dove to about 90m. But we all knew she could do it and my whole country expected that she would nake 100 meters, even if she surprised herself!”

As Hanako touched down at the plate and eventually back at the surface, the growing crowd of hopeful onlookers erupted with gleeful cheers, even before a white card was issued from the judges.

Hanako is showing just how super strong the Japanese lady freedivers are (photo © Daan Verhoeven)
Hanako is showing just how super strong the Japanese lady freedivers are (photo © Daan Verhoeven)

We all knew (like the prescient Japanese) Hanako had made it, that she was strong and the performance super clean. Then a collective elation poured over everyone as the white card was produced and the celebration was felt the world over as the dive was being streamed live on facebook.

“I am so happy!” quipped Hanako “I did it and my dive felt great.”

We believe there is more greatness to come from the petite powerhouse so stay tuned as there are still four more days of diving to come from Vertical Blue in the Bahamas.

#VB2017 results Day 5
#VB2017 results Day 5

All photos © Daan Verhoeven

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