Picture Credit: Neil Wood, Bristol Freedivers
Bristol hosted its first international freediving competition on Sunday 27 November with 30 competitors diving for prizes in static apnea, dynamic and dynamic without fins. Alice Hickson won the overall competition for the ladies, and Adam Drzazga for the men. The ‘best newbie’ award was won by Dave McGowan for the men and Kate Leney for the ladies.
Eoin Clarke set a new Irish National Record for his 134m DNF swim, increasing his previous record distance by 17 metres. He said “I’m proud to have been able to represent Ireland and I hope this will encourage more Irish swimmers, home and abroad, to get involved in the life changing sport of freediving”. It certainly was a day for the Irish as Dave McGowan also set a new Irish National Record of 05:59 static. The Men’s DYN discipline was won by Mike Benke.
Phillip Fennell swam 162m DYN to claim the top prize for male dynamic swim. Alice Hickson won for the ladies DNF with a 154m swim, and Anita Jasso winning with a 150m DYN. Alice’s static of 06:36 minutes secured her the overall lead, and similarly Adam Drzazga’s static of 06:38 winning for the men.
On her win, local freediver Alice said “I felt anxious on the day for everything running well as I’d helped with preparation, and my partner was also competing. In the end I don’t think I had any nerves left for my own dives!” All the athletes we spoke to thanks the organisers, sponsors and volunteers for putting together the event. Adam Drzazga added “There was a very calm atmosphere throughout the entire competition. My dives for me were a challenge, however I did my best on the day and I am very pleased with my white cards.”
The competition, held at Horfield Leisure Centre in the North of the city, was hosted by Bristol Freedivers club, which has been active since 2008, supported by the British Freediving Association, PADI, Divesangha clothing and OMER diving equipment. Organiser and founding member of Bristol Freedivers Andy Jardine said “In Bristol we’ve been talking about running a competition for some time, so to make it happen was really exciting. The best part for me was seeing so many people from all over the UK, different clubs and new faces all getting together and having a great time”.
Some stages of the competition were streamed live through PADI’s online TV system. The morning static videos reached over 35,000 views and 18,000 views of the closing ceremony. We are encouraged by this increasing interest in freediving in the UK and abroad, and hope to see more new faces at competitions and recreational diving meets in the future.