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Sunday 12 October 2014; — From the 16th to 27th September, the ninth AIDA Team World Championships took place in the Gulf of Cagliari, on the island of Sardinia, organised by Blue World Apnea School (www.blueworldchamp.it).
This year the UK was represented by a team of 3 men and 3 women: Georgina Miller, Liv Philip, Beci Ryan, Mike Board, Tim Money and Adam Drzazga. Jay Cluskey acted as a fantastically organized and supportive coach to all the athletes; attending the daily Event Committee meetings, keeping everyone up to date with competition news and ensuring people had what they needed throughout.
Team events takes place every other year (alternating with the individual events), and as one of the UK team put it this year, the team event is a very different kind of beast! Being a member of the team requires thought and work both before and during the event – tactics and intentions need to be discussed openly and honestly, for example are individuals aiming for personal bests (therefore increasing the risks of a yellow or red card), or are they open about working together, setting aside their own goals and potentially pulling back their performances in the hope of gaining a place on the podium?
Because of rough weather at sea, the competition started with Static (STA). Ordinarily Constant Weight (CWT) is the first event, followed by STA and ending with Dynamic (DYN). The change in order put everyone on their toes, the athletes because they thought they had plenty of time to practice STA in between the other disciplines and the Organiser because it was uncertain when the CWT would fit in, if at all.
On the evening before the announcements for STA, the team sat down together. Each person was given a chance to talk about their expectations and aspirations of the event; by the end it was agreed that athletes be given the freedom to go out and do own best performance under their own judgment. The idea was to then reconvene after the first performance day had finished and re-evaluate the situation accordingly.
It was a real mixed day for both UK teams as everyone did valiant performances, with some huge holds. Michael Board held his breath for 07:01, Tim Money for 05:55 and Liv Philip and Beci Ryan did competition personal bests (PB) of 06:05 and 04:58 respectively. Georgina Miller did a massive hold of 06:30, however the surface protocol (SP) stood in her way for a very minor error. Adam Drzazga did a brave hold of 07:15 but he too lost out to the SP. I think it’s important to say that both athletes had the full support of their teams for their fantastic efforts.
There is a silver lining in receiving a red card for the teams, in that it allows athletes the option of going all out for personal glory for the rest of the competition. The Brits were not the only team to receive red cards, five other countries also got them – the Italian team got two, both in women’s team for the touch rule (it is forbidden for an athlete to be touched by anyone upon surfacing), which is especially bitter as both athletes did clean performances and nothing wrong, it’s rather like the home goal rule in football.
Next up was CWT and the competition day saw near perfect conditions in the beautiful blue waters of Sardinia. The harbour, a short walk from the hotel, had a host of speedboats scheduled to ferry the athletes to and from the dive site where two competition lines were setup to ensure a slick and speedy day of diving. The competition started with the deepest divers and ended with the shallowest and second up to dive that morning was Michael Board who went down to 95m; Tim Money did a solid swim to 61m and Adam went to 55m and came back with a PB. Liv swam an impressive 70m, another PB for her in the competition, Georgina swam with ease to 50m and Beci to 40m. Everyone received white cards and there were smiles all round.
The third and final competition day was reserved for DYN. This is always an exciting discipline to end on and is often when the goal posts for podium places change, this World Championships was no different. Usually if a team receives a red card at any point in the competition they forfeit the chance of a medal, yet the Russian Men’s team proved an exception to the rule by taking home gold! The UK men’s team put in fantastic efforts with Michael pulling out a big 201m swim, Tim Money a PB of 176m and Adam Drzazga 175m, which is a long way to swim and a lot of turns in a 25m pool! Georgina Miller swam a comfortable and easy 126m, but both Liv and Beci were not so lucky and got red cards. Beci Ryan received her first red card in competition, she swam 168m, which is a big distance, but failed with her recovery breathing upon surfacing.
Overall everyone walked away deservedly pleased with their performances. New boundaries were discovered, lessons learned and training and freediving relationships cemented.
Competition season is not over yet for this year, in fact we are pleased to announce that there are two pool competitions happening in the UK next month: the Apnea Revolution Cup BFA Pool competition (www.apnearevolution.com), in London on Saturday 1st November and the 3rd BFA Madchester Classic (www.freedivingcompetition.com), in Stockport on Saturday 29th. Both competitions have benefited from the BFA’s newly introduced Pool Grant aimed at promoting freediving in the UK.