Sunday 29th September 2013; — Between the 15th and 22nd September the AIDA Individual Depth World Championship took place in the deep waters of the bay of Kalamata, Greece. Around 150 athletes from more than 30 nations took part to challenge themselves and compete for the deepest dive in Constant No Fins (CNF), Constant Weight (CWT), and Free Immersion (FIM). Each discipline stood alone and encouraged specialists in each area to excel.
Great Britain was represented by a team of 10 divers, many of whom have sprung from the busy freediving clubs around the UK. The first competition day was CNF, and athletes awoke early to find a cloudy, chilly day in contrast to the sunshine of previous days. Competition was scheduled to run from deep to shallow for safety reasons allowing the deeper dives to commence early, when conditions are generally better. After a fast transfer boat five minutes from shore, athletes arrived at their allotted time to prepare for their dive in a fantastic set-up provided by Stavros Kastrinakis the Organiser. An incredible crew of safety divers watched over the divers on the warm-up lines, towed them to floating dry areas to relax, and onto one of three competition lines which were manned by teams of AIDA International judges.
The surface water temperature had dropped by two degrees from previous days and was dark and shadowy because the sun was hidden by thick cloud. This did not deter the Brits however as although many of the team had spent some months training in Dahab, a large number had travelled direct from the UK having had limited training in the cold quarries back home. Two such athletes represented Team GB in the challenging CNF event. John Moorcroft completing a valiant 61m dive to be disappointed by a DQ for an unfortunate pull on the line which the rules do not allow in this event. Liv Philip, a London based athlete decided to go for a tactical depth with a dive to 50m: ‘I knew this would be a challenging but safe dive and I had to factor in such things as conditions, and the water had been getting colder by the day’ Liv explained. This paid off as Liv surfaced from a strong dive to get a white card from Californian judge Grant Graves. She beat competitors from Russia and Japan to bring home her first bronze medal from a World Championship. Liv said ‘I’m really happy, getting the medal gives a nod of recognition for all the hard work and dedication of all the UK self funded freedivers, plus I really like bling!’. Natalia Molchanova did it again setting a new World record and winning gold with a dive of 69m, and Morgan Bourchis of France did a beautiful 87m dive to take gold in the men’s competition.
After two days allowing athletes to rest and train, the tension of CWT day built as the announced performances were published. Two men, Dave Mullins (NZ) and Alexey Molchanov (RUS) announced World records of 128m adding to the excitement. The sun came out and the conditions started off calm, but slowly conditions got bumpy, testing the athletes who could best deal with the nature of this ocean competition. There were good dives from London freedivers Gary McGrath 67m, Liv Philip 62m, and Georgina Miller 47m and from John Moorcroft who put a fin on to dive 67m for the northern contingent. The Biritsh divers held their own in rough seas and showed great strength of character. The British athletes were keen to point out that their much liked team mate Mike Board, who looked on-form to be the first British man to 100m in CWT ‘is really strong and we know he will be back to do it next time” after he suffered an ear injury during the pre-comp. The CWT was won by Alexey who set a new World record, and his mum the Russian grandmother, proved unbeatable yet again in the women’s category!
By the final day, many of the athletes nerves had subsided, and the ocean rewarded them by giving them perfect conditions to take part in the final discipline of Free Immersion. Gary McGrath had a beautiful dive to 70m bringing him a white card, an excellent 10th place and a wonderful days diving to remember. John Moorcroft dived to 61m showing what a strong all round athlete he is by completing all three disciplines. Newcomers Richard Bevan and Louisa Collyns both dived to 56m and Chris Laycock to 36m with excellent results in their first World Championship. Liv Philip completed her run of white cards with a PB of 66m bringing her into 7th place in this discipline. The gold medals were taken by William Trubridge and Natalia Molchanova.
All that was left to do was to thank the organisers, judges and safety team, collect the medals and PARTY down on the beach until the small hours under the shadow of the Kalamata mountains and next to the big blue sea that had kept all the divers safe throughout their dives!
The BFA would like to congratulate all the Freedivers who took part and entering into the spirit of this fantastic bi-annual event. We hope they all enjoyed the experience and have a greater understanding of the sea as a result. We would also like to thank Elios wetsuits on behalf of the British Freediving Team for their support (http://www.eliossub.com/index.php/en/).
Full results can be found on the British Freediving Association Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/groups/britishfreediving/).