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Freediving competitions - attempting a fresh look

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Well-Known Member
Oct 31, 2002
Got to think about this, when I realized that I'm loosing the overall focus on what apnea competitions should be about. I get confused by the complexity of present rules and discussions about the elements in them.

Let's pretent this is 1990, and that AIDA has just started to form the model for freediving competitions. Not record attempts, not meetings, but actual competitions.
How should they be?

I'm mainly thinking about building something that can compete with modern day skiing sport or similar. Maybe not exactly copying their model, but build the case that works for freediving.

Forget all you know about the present build up. Do a brainstorm from scratch. Try not in your posts to give any reference what so ever to present scenarios. Start over.

And don't think that I'm encouraging to completely throw all present rules in the scrab. I'm just asking for a reevaluation of the essence of competitive freediving, and one not colored by present realities, but focusing on what would be working forever and 'what would be cool'. Think Playstation world seller.

No poll. It's open.

Chris Engelbrecht, Copenhagen
Head to head competitions would be cool. For example:

Underwater obstacle courses (compete for time or distance). These could get pretty elaborate (take sled down to 30M, solve a puzzle,swim 50 yds, gab a tag ...)

Underwater wrestling matches (two folks dive for one object, first to surface concious w/ object wins)

"Biathlon", a combination of obstacle course and spear-gun skills

Scooter obstacle courses (more like static apnea, since you don't move much, but you need to be fully aware underwater)

Some kind of underwater paint-ball-like thing where you shoot opponent with benign spear (can't wait for the replies on that one;)).

Most of these events could take place above 30M, so safety divers are not at much risk.
My idea:

The basic format would be like this:

Two divers go at the same time. No one knows how deep they will go. They dive along a rope or a gigantic wreck or a sheer wall that goes down for ever, covered in amazing life. Cameras are located all the way down, the action is televised on shore and into your home. The tension lies in who will turn around first and who will go deeper seeking more points. Then on the way up the question is who will surface without endangering himself (aka blacking out). The diver who goes the deepest and finishes the dive successfully goes on to the next round.

For example:
"Fattah and Scott breathing up on the surface. Thirty seconds to go. The coaches look nervous. Fattah is the favourite, with all his experience and $120,000 on the pro tour this year alone. The crowd is silent (you can hear them breathing through the snorkels). Zero time! Down they go.
50m, 60m, 70m--both divers are keeping a close eye on narcosis and carbon dioxide build up given the challenging conditions of the Green Trident Freediving Contest--80m, 90m, 100m--now they will be worried about the descent time and accumulating nitrogen in their bloodstream--DCS is a real threat at these depths and dive times--wait! it looks as though Fattah is making the turn at 121m and Scott is still going down. It looks like Scott knows that he'll have to go deeper than his rival in order to advance to the next round. He turns finally at 125m. Its hard to say what state his mind is in after almost three minutes of sinking into the darkness. They sprint for the surface. Fattah looks confident. Scott is catching up. Has he gone too far? 30m, 20m, here is the critical zone. Fattah looks in control. Yes, he's surfaced and recovers safely. The crowd goes wild. But now falls silent again. Where is Scott? 30m, 20, 10m... Uh oh, it looks like he's in trouble. He's a rookie and he mounted a challenge against a veteran. Blackout at the surface! The safety divers attend to him. Scott has been eliminated. He will have to try his luck in the double elimination heats.
Next up, Nitsch vs. Stepanek....But first a word from our sponsors."

The competition is limited in size, like a surfing competition, say 60 freedivers, with spots earned through a freediving pro tour. (I wish!) :D There are wild card spots as well to make it interesting. The contest is run with double elimination in the final round, so that if you have a bad day, you can still have one more chance to place high.

For the competition itself, there is a minimum depth requirement for each day: 65m, 75m, 85m, etc (or whatever seems like a reasonable level). If divers fail to make the minimum depth on the first day, they don't proceede to the next round.

For television, the head to head competition can be shown on a split screen, with stats from previous competitions and of course, colour commentary by knowledgeable announcers.

There could be a Freediving Triple Trident series:
1) Blue Trident: a competition set up along the wall at Cayman (which plunges down thousands of feet (or in various other blue water sites with interesting things to dive around or to dive down to such as wrecks and strange reefs))

2) Green Trident: a competition here in BC in the emerald waters of Vancouver Island along a wall that drops down over three hundred feet, covered in gorgonian corals and various other rare life (or other green water locations) or there's a huge wreck in BC that sits conveniently at 85m.

3) White Trident: under ice diving, or high altitude, or lake diving etc...

4) Black Trident: zero viz! :) :) or lots of hungry sea life (south Africa!)

Thus the world championships becomes an experience not only determined by the culmination of a season of competition, but also by the local conditions. Heck you could add unpredictability with currents and thermoclines and bad visibility and marine life.

Safety by DRUMS. (so the diver plunges into the abyss without a descent line, much more challenging and scary for the audience)

No pool categories: only ocean: constant weight.

The only rules about equipment would be:
-only human propulsion allowed (no mechanical or electric)
-constant weight

I think this would stimulate more innovation of equipment and techniques.

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