I recently had a chance for some one-on-one time with the United States Women’s Freediving Team. Though the team is comprised of both experienced and novice divers (some who train regularly and some who have only trained by competing) it is obvious that all members of the team share something in common; they value team work. Annabel Briseno, whose competitive freediving resume is long and distinguished, shared with us that the shining difference between this team and previous teams lies in the interpersonal relationship of the team mates. “We are really a team,” she reports. It seems each member is committed to supporting the others and to ensuring that this competition is not about only the individual.
A major challenge facing the U.S. team was the conditions here in Vancouver, Canada. Three of the team members are used to diving in the beautiful warm waters of either Hawaii, the Mediterranean, or the Cayman Islands. I’m the team’s alternate, and are accustomed to diving waters even colder and with poorer visibility than those of Vancouver. Jessica Wilson, a long time competitor, stated that “It took me awhile to get past the mental block of diving waters so black I can’t see my dive gauge during training. But then I finally got over it, and my dives have been good ever since!” With some practice and a burst of frustration, Jessica conquered her fears two days prior to the competition.
Julia Moran Morton, of the Cayman Islands, was excited at the opportunity to compete at the World Championships. This constant ballast competition was her very first and grabbing the tag certainly made her day. “I was relaxed all the way through and now I want to do it again! I really appreciated my team mates supporting me which encouraged me to make my target. It was an awesome experience.”
Though very disappointed in not being able to dive due my ear barotrauma, I was excited to be able to support the team during their competition dives. The next best thing to being able to dive yourself is watching your team mates succeed. I learned a good lesson (too much last minute training can hurt) and was thankful for the opportunity to back-up my team. It was great to be able to cheer out loud!
All team members spoke highly of the organization of the competition. According to the team, everything is going more smoothly than anyone could have hoped for. The competition itself has been exceptional, and the extra add-ons that CAFA has provided (a plasma screen set-up to watch each diver’s performance, team suites in the dorm, etc) has been icing on the cake. Compliments toward the organizers and volunteers were plentiful during the interview.
With the pool events coming up, the women’s team is looking forward to clean and strong performances. Working together, they will soon head to the pool to help one another train and provide continuing support and guidance to one another. Living together at the UBC dorms has resulted in many team dinners, chats, and laughs and has allowed the team mates to get to know each other’s personal styles. Each member has a unique personality which contributes positively to the team dynamic. They seem to be having a great time and are genuinely happy to be at the World Championships together as a team.