With the U.S. team sharing close quarters for about a week now, it is hard not to hear about people’s thoughts and opinions. However, the U.S. men’s team has been one that has remained positive, enthusiastic, and thankful for the opportunity to be here at the World Championships. This U.S. men’s team isn’t comprised of well-known names or experienced competitors, but it does consist of some of the most dedicated and good-hearted athletes you may have ever met.
Michael Antinori was thrilled when he found out he made the U.S. men’s freediving team. “It was the best thing that’s happened to me in a very long time. I never expected to make the team and it confirmed for me that great things are possible,” he said. Kevin Busscher is also thankful for the opportunity to be here and directs his gratitude toward God for healing his back injury and allowing him to dive once again. Kevin explains it like this; “I have been blessed way beyond what I ever expected.” As for Peter Satitpunwaycha, he was excited at the chance to be a participant instead of being a volunteer or a judge.
With the World Championships drawing to an eventful close, I wanted to find out what the U.S. men’s team’s most cherished memories were to-date. For Peter, it was seeing his personal best jump 7 meters in constant ballast in conditions most other people aren’t comfortable with. For Kevin, it was seeing his team mates make their goals and jumping into the Canadian cold waters in only a swim suit to celebrate with his team mates. For Michael, grabbing the tag at 41 meters was the highlight, but knowing he could have gone further and feeling like it was an easy dive really made it feel like a successful dive.
Charles Gossett, the men’s team alternate, chose not to compete as an individual but to instead support both the men’s and women’s team as assistant coach to Matt Briseno. Chuck has been fundamental to our efforts here in Canada, and without him we wouldn’t be where we are now. From running errands to gently coaxing us through the most painful parts of our static apnea attempts, Chuck’s perpetual smile and willingness to learn and help has endeared him to all the team members. Matt Briseno has taken Chuck under his wing and is sharing his coaching techniques with us all. Under Matt’s supervision, we have all exceeded previous personal bests and are beyond grateful for his support.
This U.S. men’s team has high hopes for the future of freediving in the United States. All believe that United States Apnea Association is doing a good job of recruiting new members and getting the word out about freediving. Although there is a long way to go, the general feeling is that the future will bring new athletes and should be exciting. The U.S. men’s team believe it is important for other freedivers out there to notice the fact that anyone can train and try out for the team. As Michael said, “In the past, U.S. freediving has been dominated by only a few men. Now we hope that people realize that new athletes can do well too.” There’s no reason not to try, and as proven by this team, making the effort can really pay off and leave you feeling as though you have really accomplished a dream.