Bristol’s first International freediving competition a success

Bristol Blue Girls WinnersBristol Blue Dynamic

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.

National Record #2 for Dean Chaouche 78m CNF dive set at Blue Element, Dominica

Dean Chaouche 78m CNF National RecordDean Chaouche 78m CNF National Record

Picture Credit: Daan Verhoeven (www.daanverhoeven.com)

Dean Chaouche claimed his second British record in Constant Weight No Fins (CNF) diving to a depth of 78m at the inaugural Blue Element International freediving competition, adding 4m to his previous record of 74m, set at Vertical Blue in the Bahamas on 22 April this year. Many believe CNF to be the purest freediving discipline; the athlete relying on strength and technique, may only use his arms and legs to propel himself through the water, in a style of breaststroke, down a weighted guideline and back.

The record was broken on day 3 of 6 and was a boost to Dean’s confidence after an unsuccessful Constant Weight national record attempt on day 1 of 104m:

“I knew after the first day I needed to do a dive which I knew I could do and it did the trick. It felt easy on the way down it felt good on the way up so I feel confident now that I can proceed into the competition and reattempt the first dive on the first day. The island is beautiful, this amazing back drop and the conditions in training were awesome.”

And after giving the above quote, the next day Dean completed a 91m FIM dive, so it appears that the record holder has regained control and focus and is on track to attempt the CWT dive.

Blue Element International is taking place on the island of Dominica, in a huge volcanic crater where water drops to depths of hundreds of meters, just a short distance from the shore. Athletes taking part in the competition have the choice of competing in any one or all of the competition depth disciplines: Constant Weight (CWT), Constant Weight No Fins (CNF) and Free Immersion (FIM). The competition started on Friday 4 November and will finish on Friday 11.

British freediver Harry Chamas has set a new National Record of 105m depth in variable weight

Harry Chamas Variable Weight National Record

Picture Credit: By Denys Rylov (Den GC) at (http://Dengc.photos)

British freediver Harry Chamas has set a new National Record of 105m depth in variable weight in Kalamata, Greece. On Friday 14 October, Harry took a weighted sled down past 100m to reach his target, before swimming all the way back to the surface. This exceeds the previous variable weight record of 80m, held by Mark Harris since 2007.

Harry started freediving in Australia seven years ago and this year became a staff instructor at the Freediving Club in Greece, which has allowed him regular access to the sea. He was head of safety at the recent AIDA World Championships held in Kalamata. However, he’s not always had access to such depths. Harry says “most of my time I have not had access to depth below 30m, but it was all I needed to learn how to put myself into deep states of relaxation and to master my technique”. He added that “visualization can be just as valuable as diving for your training. Being confident is the key”.

You may not see Harry around the competition circuit, however, as he explains that “I’ve never enjoyed competition, I don’t handle the nerves very well, and the idea of doing an official attempt did make me nervous. But each time I thought about the attempt and would get an adrenaline rush, I would use it as an opportunity to control myself and used meditation to drop my heart rate and enter a place of peace, which was fantastic training”.

“On the day of the attempt I was in a perfect place mentally and was well rested, the ocean was calm, and I was amongst friends. It didn’t take me long to get prepared, in fact I didn’t have any nerves”.

Despite poor water visibility and cold water, Harry achieved a “perfect descent” and despite having few visual references on the way back up, he says he felt “fresh as a daisy” on the surface.

Harry dedicates this national record to his Granddad who is sick in hospital at the moment. He thanks Stavros Kastrinakis, Roxane Nicholls, David Tranfield and Brian Crossland for making this dive possible.

British freedive team perform at the World Championships in Kalamata, Greece

Carl Atkinson - Static at the 2016 AIDA World Championships, KalamataAdam Drzazga - Constant Weight at the 2016 AIDA World Championships, Kalamata
Georgina Miller - Dynamic at the 2016 AIDA World Championships, KalamataTim Money - Static at the 2016 AIDA World Championships, Kalamata

British divers Adam Drzazga, Tim Money and Carl Atkinson, with Adam Mustoe in reserve, formed the men’s team, finishing in 8th place behind winners Czech Republic, second place France and third place Russia.

Georgina Miller and Beci Ryan formed the women’s team, however Beci was unfortunately injured in training and didn’t compete, however she became a valuable team coach and assisted the organisers. Well experienced at top-level competition, Georgina gave three impressive performances including a new personal record in dynamic on the final day.

These World Championships are a team event, and everyone needs to work together to get a good result. The men’s team discussed a strategy and aimed at good, but not reckless, announcements in their depth dives (known as constant weight). Carl Atkinson, at his first World Championships, dived to 80m and Tim Money to 63m. Adam Drzazga reached 55m but unfortunately got a red card due to a technicality. Georgina Miller reached 51m.

This added some pressure on the men to “go big” in the next event, static apnea, which was Adam’s strongest and the team decided to be more aggressive with his performance to try and claw back some points. Carl achieved 4:57, Tim 5:47 and Georgina 6:31 which put her in 4th place for static amongst the ladies. Unfortunately, the men’s team strategy didn’t work, and resulted in a disqualification for Adam, so the team regrouped and ended in the final event dynamics with strong performances and white cards across both teams – 167m for Tim, 141m for Georgina, 130m for Carl and 123m for Adam.

Despite some setbacks, the British team enjoyed the calm, relaxed and inspirational atmosphere at the event. The race for gold in both sexes gave a nail-biting finish. The Japanese women’s team all pushed themselves to personal records to win gold, followed by the Czech Republic in second and Russia in third. Martin Valenta (CZE) swam 250m dynamic to ensure his men’s team won.

The British freediving team was kindly sponsored by Elios, DiveSangha, Saltfree divers and Orbiloc dive lights.

The BFA are delighted to introduce the UK Team for the 2016 AIDA Team World Championships!

elios Divesangha Salt Free Orbiloc

The 2016 AIDA Team World Championship in Kalamata (www.aidaworldchampionships.com), which will run from 17th to 25th September, in Kalamata, Greece.

The team comprises of 6 athletes: Georgina Miller, Beci Ryan, Carl Atkinson, Adam Drzazga, Tim Money and Adam Mustoe.

Athletes will compete in 3 disciplines, Static, Dynamic (both pool) and Constant Weight (depth) to achieve best possible combined point score. BFA is confident the team will perform to the best of their abilities and we wish them well.

All of our athletes are self-funded, and we are pleased to announce some fantastic sponsors for this year’s World Championships, helping them to perform to their full potential:

Elios Sub (www.eliossub.com), established in 1977, prides itself on its continuous innovation, evolution, improvement and refinement of comfort in its suits. Elios are a loyal sponsor of the British Team and many British Freedivers wear their suits across the UK because of the quality and feel of materials used. Team GB wear their suits with pride and are grateful for Elios’ continued support.

Divesangha (www.divesangha.com), manufacture ethically and locally, trade fairly, design wisely and consume responsibly. Their latest collection is made using ECONYL (a yarn that comes from 100% regenerated nylon from fish nets and other waste material). Motivated by passion, uniqueness, innovation and a love for the sea. This is the second year Divesangha have sponsored the Freediving Team and this year they invited the team to have a say in the design!

Saltfree (www.saltfree.biz), based at the NDAC, Chepstow, is a freedive school and training facility with the largest purpose-built freedive platform in the world, offering four training lines over 80mof water. Founded in 2003, SaltFree offer courses from beginner to instructor level and run regular training meets for qualified freedivers. Visit www.saltfreedivers.com to find out more! Saltfree have generously supported our Freediving Team GB over the years with their fantastic set-up and facilities.

Orbiloc Dual Safety Light (www.orbiloc.com), is a Danish-made high quality lightweight LED safety light that helps to maintain visibility in low light conditions, particularly when freedivng away from the line. They are low profile, easy to wear and very powerful underwater. Waterproof to 100 meters (IPX8 certificate), extremely resistant to impact (can withstand a pressure of 100 kg), with a 3-year warranty. The light comes in 5 different colours (red, white, blue, green and yellow), in 3 models and with 2 operating modes (steady-on and flashing). The base of the light is the same, but the attachment differs between the models with either an arm strap or a clip that fits a weight belt.

DNF national record for Alice Hickson & Two World Records for Poland!

Alice Hickson Breaks Dynamic No Fins British Record at AIDA World Championships!

Picture Credit: Daan Verhoeven (www.daanverhoeven.com)

180m DNF British Record & set at AIDA World Championships in Finland

On Saturday 2 July, Alice Hickson broke yet another national record, in the A-Final at the Individual AIDA Pool World Championships in Turku, Finland, swimming 180m without fins on one lungful of air (over 7 lengths of a 25m pool) and winning a silver medal. Alice held the previous British record of 174m, set at last year’s World Championships in Belgrade, Serbia, for which she won a gold medal. The 180m swim was a personal best for Alice and was just meters short of the winning World Record dive of 185m by Magdalena Solich of Poland. This record marks a fifth for Hickson in a freediving career of just eighteen months!

Alice had this to say of her performance: “I felt more nervous than usual maybe because of other people’s expectations and yesterday wasn’t the best preparation, but I had a little word with myself and reminded myself that it’s not about the numbers of anyone else, just enjoy the dive and come up clean! And it’s still early days this is just the beginning of my freediving journey.”

Two World Records were also broken in the DNF World Championship A-Finals, both by Polish Freedivers, Magdalena Solich and Mateusz Malina, and both spectacular performances and strong. Magdalena swam 185m breaking Natalia Molchanova of Russia’s World record of 182m, set at the AIDA Pool World Championships in Belgrade in 2013. Natalia’s presence at World Championship events is sorely missed she was one of the most loved and revered freedivers to grace the sport of freediving. The icing on the cake for Poland came when Mateusz Malina broke his own World Record of 232m set just a few days earlier, swimming 244m (that’s over 9 lengths of a 25m pool).

For the first time ever in the history of the sport of freediving, people at home could watch the event unfold moment by moment with live streaming and commentary by Carla Hanson (AIDA International President) and Antero Joki (Finnish Freediver & AIDA International Technical Officer). This potentially marks a new era for competitive freediving.

Alice Hickson Breaks Dynamic British Record at AIDA World Championships!

Alice Hickson Breaks Dynamic British Record at AIDA World Championships!

Picture Credit: Daan Verhoeven (www.daanverhoeven.com)

Alice swam 200m on one breath & is through to A-Finals

On Wednesday 29 June at the Individual AIDA Pool World Championships in Finland, Alice Hickson swam 200m on one breath of air using a monofin (that’s 4 lengths of an olympic size swimming pool), breaking the British dynamic national record by 14m. The previous record, 186m, was held by Rebecca Coales set on 29 November 2014 in Stockport.

Asked about how she was feeling before the swim or if she had any expectations or goals in mind, Alice had this to say:

“I just went with the same old get in and do my best, come up clean, that’s all I can do. I didn’t have a number in mind, it’s only my 3rd ever top in dynamic. I just wanted to come up clean as I knew my mum might be watching on the live stream! During the dive I was thinking about the huge Waterpark next to the pool which were going to go play on in a bit.”

Impressively, Alice now holds all three pool discipline national records: in competition she has held her breath for 6 minutes 58 seconds, swam 174m with no fins and now 200m with a monofin. Alice has been freediving for less than two years and burst onto the scene in style last year’s Pool World Championships in Serbia when she won a gold medal and title of World Champion, a bronze medal and broke 3 national records. Not bad going for competing at her second ever competition!

The Pool World Championship in Finland is not over yet – athletes compete in the three pool freediving disciplines: static apnea, dynamic no fins and dynamic. The qualifying heats are now complete and Alice has won a place in all three of A-Finals which is quite a feat – it shows what an all-round athlete in the pool she is. The A-Finals will start on Friday 1 July and finish on Sunday 3 July.

The BFA are delighted to introduce the UK Team for the 2016 Individual AIDA Pool World Championship in Turku, Finland (www.aidafinland.org).

The BFA are delighted to introduce the UK Team for the 2016 Individual AIDA Pool World Championship in Turku, Finland (www.aidafinland.org).

The competition will run from 25th June to 3rd July and we are sending a team of 5 athletes, two of whom hold Wild Cards* (which means they ranked top ten in the world for one or more of the three pool competition disciplines), they are: Alice Hickson*, Georgina Miller*, Lucelle Simms, for the women and Philip Fennell and Mark Gooding for the men. Also, Andy Jardine is taking up an important role of the team coach and captain for the event.

Last year’s World Championships in Belgrade saw Alice win two medals (gold in Dynamic No Fins and bronze in Static) and other UK athletes qualify for the final stages of the event. The BFA is confident this year’s team will perform to the best of their abilities and we wish them well.

The UK Team are all self-funded and to help them perform their very best they are being generously supported by Divesangha (www.divesangha.com).

Divesangha (www.divesangha.com) is made up of designers based in London; they are motivated by passion, uniqueness, innovation and a love for the sea. The word “sangha” means “association” or “community” in Pali and Sanskrit. They design and create basic, easy to wear clothes that give divers a proper identity. They call it “divewear” or “surface gear” and the designs mix fashion and sportswear, using functional fabrics and neutral colours. They manufacture ethically and locally, trade fairly, design wisely and consume responsibly. The divewear clothes are made in the UK as an exclusive, limited edition and they don’t use any plastic bags in their packaging when you buy from the website. This is the first time that Divesangha have sponsored the UK Team, we are delighted to have them on-board and the athletes will be proud to wear their surface gear!

Would you like to sponsor the UK Team? If so please visit our website for more information, or contact our Sponsorship Officer Jay Cluskey: sponsorship@britishfreediving.orgThe BFA are delighted to introduce the UK Team for the 2016 Individual AIDA Pool World Championship in Turku, Finland (www.aidafinland.org).

BFA Members Day at NDAC in Chepstow on Saturday 30 July 2016

BFA Members Day at NDAC in Chepstow on Saturday 30 July 2016

We’re holding a BFA Members Day at NDAC in Chepstow on Saturday 30 July 2016.

We’ve arranged a freedive safety demo (by Liv Philip), talk on underwater photography by Mark Harris (author of Glass and Water), BBQ, camping and yoga (with Rebecca Coales). And of course for qualified divers*, some time on the Saltfree platform and NDAC attractions.

We’ll cover the costs of diving for BFA members. Our BBQ will be at the Beeches Farm campsite where we’ve also set aside space for the freedive group. There’s a normal Saltfree meet the next day for those staying on.

Places are limited for this event so please sign up today by contacting Rebecca membership@britishfreediving.org stating whether you are diving only or diving + campsite. We’ll need a deposit from you if you’re camping

See you there!

*at least AIDA 2 star or equivalent

British freedivers excel at Vertical Blue freediving depth competition

Dean Chaouche National Records 74m CNF

Picture Credit: Daan Verhoeven (www.daanverhoeven.com)

British freediver Dean Chaouche set a new UK Record in Constant Weight No Fins (CNF) of 74m on the opening day of the Vertical Blue depth competition in the Bahamas. Since 22 April, the world’s top divers have been challenging each other to dive deeper, some further than anyone has been before. Three World Records were also set at what has become the premier freediving competition in the world.

Two days later (24 April), Dean then became the second British man to reach 100m in Constant Weight (CWT). Dean said on Twitter that “It’s been very hard to get here, there have been many hiccups, but I’m glad I made it!” Dean has been living on Long Island by Dean’s Blue Hole, where the competition is held. Although not named after him, it’s fitting given he’s become so comfortable diving here regularly.

Dean put his success down to working hard on swimming technique, diving regularly and training his body and mind to be more tolerant to carbon dioxide. His National Record feels all the better for the frustration he felt missing an opportunity to set the record in 2015. His persistence has paid off – along with the CNF national record he came 3rd overall in the competition and 2nd in the CNF discipline.

Fellow Brits Liv Phillip and Georgina Miller also found success at Vertical Blue, ranking 6th and 8th respectively. Despite ill health during her stay on Long Island, Liv achieved a 63m Free Immersion (FIM) dive which gave her 4th place in that discipline and Georgina performed a personal best.

The competition closed with not one, but two World Records by British-born, New Zealand freediver William Trubridge in Free Immersion to 122 and then 124m. That followed an impressive CNF World Record of 72m set by Japanese freediver Sayuri Kinoshita. The events kept us all on the edge of our seats for almost two weeks!