Monday, June 30th, 2003
Even though I am glad to be in the routine of getting up early each day to train and subsequently having quiet afternoons, sometimes it’s hard to get out of bed!! My static apnea warm-up "dives" went well and I was feeling very good, but on my last (goal) dive I over-packed air in my lungs and was uncomfortable throughout. I came up just after 5 minutes disappointed that I made such a mistake, but knowing a bit more about what to do next time. The boys (Paul and Gilles) filmed me from above and below and there seemed to be more guests taking photos, so it’s all good training in case I go for the static record when the Judges are here.
We had our usual big breakfast at Schooners on the beach and then had a pretty quiet day all in all. Paul and I took a road trip before lunch for some much needed supplies (Oreo cookies and Doritos!) as well as something to make my noseclip more comfortable. I found that the sticky padding used for corns on your feet works quite well!
During the afternoon, the three of us congregated in our room at Beaches to watch Wimbledon. We are inspired to get out on the tennis courts here for a game, but time keeps running out and we seem to have so many commitments. This evening it was time to join all the Managers from the resort and the newly arriving guests for a cocktail reception around one of the pools. Usually I am introduced briefly and then spend 30 minutes or so signing autographs and talking with guests. Once that was done, we attempted to film some interview-style footage but without much luck. It seems the cameras don’t like being taken from the cool airconditioned room, out into the warm humid sunshine……the condensation builds up and they refuse to function. So we have to figure out a solution for that!
We decided to have dinner at Sapadillo’s, the most posh restaurant of the resort, but didn’t have reservations until 9pm, so after packing up the cameras we headed to the sushi bar for some drinks and appetizers. After that we played pool for a while, where the guys gave evidence of their mis-spent youths by kicking my butt! It was a nice way to spend the evening, but by the time the restaurant was ready for us we were falling asleep.
Big day tomorrow — the rope will be set for 96m, a meter deeper than the existing women’s world record…..
Tuesday, July 1st, 2003
As soon as we woke up we could see that the wind was going to be a problem today. The palm trees near our balcony were almost still where they normally blow fiercely towards the sea indicating a nice offshore breeze – the kind that makes our dive line sit nicely over the big blue. It made me a bit anxious, mainly because it causes me to question myself. On the one hand I secretly hope we will have to call off the dive but on the other I get angry with myself for ever thinking that! It causes me to question myself, and I prefer being mentally set strong!
Patricia, our island friend, joined us on the boat with a friend of hers who is originally from here but lived his life in the US and has since retired here. Also joining us to see what all the fuss is about were a father and his 14 year old daughter, Taylor, who are staying at Beaches. As always, it was nice to have spectators on board to distract me.
Sure enough the boat sat parallel to the wall and too close initially, but by letting out a few hundred feet more of extra line on the mooring we sat at a comfortable distance and the dive was declared on. I couldn’t decide if I was pleased or not. But I was relieved that either way the decision wasn’t left up to me – the conditions were fine. There were bigger swells but no swinging of the boat so the line was very straight in the water. My sinuses cooperated throughout the warm-up dives and before I knew it I was surfacing from another successful dive. My computer read 96m from my ankle meaning the sled had reached 97m at the knot in the rope. It was a comfortable dive, taking 2 minutes and 36 seconds – quite a bit faster considering it was 4m deeper than the last dive which took 3 seconds longer, but we had added weight to the sled. (Thanks Jill for sending info on the Stinger – I hope I can figure out how to “read” my dive profile now!!)
After a short break while the sled was returned to the surface and the ballast re-set at 40m I changed into my shark suit and got ready for my breast-stroke dive. I set my alarm at 30m with the intention of going just a few feet deeper. On the way down Phil fired off several photos from up close and I considered turning around as it made me jump. But I quickly heard the alarm go off and decided to stick with it for a few more seconds. I surfaced cleanly and not too out of breath with a depth of 35m on my computer. I’m pretty pleased with that – a new discipline to me and one I seriously didn’t think I would be comfortable doing. But I am enjoying the new challenge each day. Of course I have to go a bit deeper than that to set a respectable world record depth, because I know there are good divers out there capable of over 45m. We will see…..!
I spent about another hour teaching the 3 out of 4 guests (who had been watching from the surface) a bit about freediving and was pleased at how well they listened and seemed to enjoy the experience. They calmly pulled down the rope testing their equalization and looking around them at the endless, endless blue. Taylor did particularly well and was a very gutsy young lady. She agreed to give the sled a try and together we rode it to almost 50 feet. If she hadn’t had some difficulty equalizing her ears and if I had been a better pilot with the sled, I think she could have easily hit the bottom of the rope, which we had set at about 65 feet. Next time kiddo!!
The safety team had a good dive and had a nice view of the wall as they decompressed. 97m is a deep dive for trimix divers, where John and Carol were stationed today, but they are enjoying their training as much as we all are I think.
Pretty much exhausted, we all returned to shore for lunch and rest! Our usual post-dive eating hole is Guiseppes and they are getting used to a big group of tired salty people coming in and causing havoc!
After lunch I gave a long interview to The Boston Globe newspaper which is in the top 3 largest in the US, I believe. You can read the articlebut I don’t know what pictures were used in the actually printed piece. It was a good interview but by the time it was finished I wasn’t sleepy anymore and consequently didn’t get to nap this afternoon. Instead, we watched more tennis on TV and later in the evening went out onto the dock to try again at filming an interview. But the cameras wouldn’t co-operate again! It would have been beautiful as the sunset was lovely and the light was nice. But we have another 22 sunsets here……so hopefully the cameras will behave!!!
Once again I got up on stage at 8:30pm to introduce freediving and the upcoming attempt to the guests here at Beaches. I get better (and less nervous) each time I do it, and it seems I have to spend more time signing autographs each week. More and more people are conscious of freediving and interested in meeting someone they have read about in the sport.
Gilles took Paul and I out for dinner to celebrate an unofficial new world record, which was a nice treat. We sat at an Italian restaurant in a marina, right by the canal so it was very peaceful. We plan all the next camera angles on the sled and the shots Gilles will get while he is on Scuba. As long as he doesn’t run out of air again……like he did today……!!! I take for granted how difficult it is to film underwater, but I did wonder why he was on the deco line breathing the gas for the deep divers!
Wednesday, July 2nd, 2003
Today started very well, but as I write this I am really tired! I did a nice static dive today – 6 minutes and 16 seconds, which is my personal best and equal to Mandy-Rae Cruickshank’s World Record time. All I can say is “That is so hard Mandy!!!” But I feel more confident about my ability now. I just hope I can do it at least one more time, and a few seconds longer, when the judges are here. And then just sit back and wait for Mandy to set a new mark…..!
Static is a tough discipline, purely mental and purely training. I tend to be able to stay relaxed and without any contractions (urges to breathe) until about 4 minutes into it. But after that, the contractions come, the warm sensation in my chest telling me it would be nice to breathe, and it gets difficult. I changed my strategy today and told Paul not to give me any signals until I asked for them. And I decided I wouldn’t ask until I had been through a couple of contractions. When I raised my finger he told me it was almost 4:30 and I have to admit that the thought of holding on for another minute and a half was daunting. But it was strange how time flew after that. At first I set my sights on 5:30, just to have another solid performance under my belt to give me confidence. When I passed that mark I just figured it would be nice to go over the 5:48 I did a few days ago. Then, when 6 minutes went by all I wanted to do was go past my previous best of 6:08. It was co-incidence to equal the world record, but there was a nice round of applause from the people who had gathered to watch. I came up very clear and very pleased. And with a lot more confidence about static. But I am so tired now!
After a quick breakfast Paul and I met with our contact in the Tourism office and then went to give a presentation to the island’s taxi drivers. A lot of them showed up and we had a great time together talking about freediving, the world record last year and what we’re doing again this year. A lot of them were spearfishermen a few years ago, so they were interested in freediving from that perspective. And it was a great promotional move on the part of the Tourism office to set up this presentation because now the taxi drivers have something interesting to tell visitors they carry in their cabs about what is going on here!
Boy, I was really tired after that was done and I escaped a meeting for a short nap before lunch while Gilles watched more tennis on TV. Then, again after lunch, I fell back to sleep – very deep this time. I can’t believe how much static apnea can wear you out! Of course I didn’t take a nap yesterday after the dive either, so I guess it is just catching up with me.
As I write this it’s just gone 5pm and we are going to try AGAIN to do some interviews as the sun goes down, so keep your fingers crossed that the cameras are in a good mood!