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Ibiza Stories

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Stephan Whelan

Papa Smurf
Staff member
Jan 7, 1999
So any stories or comments?

So, everyone who went to Ibiza must be back by now...

Any good stories or comments from the Worlds? Let's hear them...
back from Ibiza!

I guess I'll be the first one with impressions from Ibiza.
The trip to Ibiza was everything I've dreamed of. I met Pelizzari and Tanya, and lots of other great divers. I also met in person two Canadians Deeper bluers, Tom and Pete! Hi to them!! I guess they will be posting soon.
I 've learned a lot from great freedivers such as Karoline and Kirk Krack who was so unselfish in revealing the secrets of the sport. Thanks! (if you don't remember me I was the tall, skiny guy with my hair painted in blonde :eek:)
But, I was most impressed with Austrian Herbert Nitsch. I've witnesed the -86m dive. I watched him from a press boat, and I tell you it was amazing. The dive lasted for 3:10 minutes and when he got out I just couldn't beleive that he did 86m. The tension about both of his performances were huge but he handled it great. No sign of being nervous at all. He is also a very friendly guy.
I was also surprised with a guy from Greece, Manolis who did -81m in 2:20 something!
Now, Martin Stepanek! I beleive that he has a huge potencial but not too much expirience at competitions. It is almost unbeleivable that this guy do dives over -80 meters with plastic fins and had only being doing constant weight for a few weeks. I think that this is the guy who will be the first in -100 meters constant weight.

That is it for now, I would like to say hello to everyone who were in Ibiza. Waiting for their stories...

I guess I'll be back with more stories from Ibiza....

P.S. the food was great, thanks to SEVEN Croatian cooks in Club Med Ibiza :p
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Bring it on!!


Awww - come on, you know that you want to....:D

I have to say I was disappointed not to see any hilarious shots on the Freediver site.

For everyone else, there are pages and pages of cool photos (above water) that were taken by the Freediver crew at Club Med. Head on over to http://www.freediver.co.uk/Ibiza2001/ukteam.htm and be prepared to be jealous (unless of course you were there).
Anecdotes from Ibiza

Spain was a blast. I have come to understand that while although the competition is important, it's meeting other freedivers that makes it special. It was great to meet Topi and Jero...they are great freedivers and really nice guys.

Here's some things you might find interesting or amusing:

:D Herbert "The Flying Fish" Nitsch:

At the opening ceremony, I went up to Herbert and introduced myself. I was supposed to have met him in Turkey where Eric Fattah, Bill Stromberg (Sweden), Herbert and I were to be a team at the FREE comeptition. Unfortunately it was cancelled. (Can you IMAGINE!!-- man, that would have been crazy. Bill said they would have dragged me down to 75m to get me up to their standards...) :) Anyway, Herbert said he had been fighting a cold for the last week (which continued on during the comp) and that he wasn't looking forward to diving. So I said jokingly, "Why don't you announced -90m, that way you can go last, and maybe your cold will be gone by then." :duh
Herbert sort of gave me a strange look and smiled. I realized right away what he was planning. I said, "Don't worry, your secret is safe with me." A day later, Bill Stromberg told me that Herbert had done 89m and 86m in training. There was also a rumor that Herbert's coach Dieter Baumann wanted him to do 92m, but Herbert wanted to be a little "conservative." And now we all know what happened on the last day of deep diving--a new world record!

;) The Big Blue

The first day of official training came and I found myself floating face down in the Mediterranean Sea, dumfounded by the amazing visibility and the vibrant blue below me. It was also my first time diving (comfortably!) in a 3mm suit. I could see all the training lines: divers were going up and down in a strange underwater procession. I did several warm-up dives and wasn't feeling very good. I didn't feel like diving at all and I realized that in the warm water my usual "dive reflex" had not kicked in. I made a dive to 37m and hit the thermocline. :) Aaahhhhh, relief!!
I went back to the surface and began to breathe up for a deeper dive.
When I made my deep dive, I did feel ready, at last. Since we had no markers on the line and the visibility and brightness at deep completely threw off my usual gauge of depth, I had to rely on my inner sense and occasional glances at my gauge. I sank through the thermocline and stopped after ten seconds or so. I looked up to the surface and I could see the sunlight filtering down through the ocean above me. What a feeling of being deep THAT was! Earlier I wasn't sure I wanted to look up at the surface. Maybe it would freak me out too much! But it was okay and marvellous. I surfaced and had a look at the gauge: it read 48m.

:cool: Constant Ballast

I must admit I was nervous in the day leading up to my deep dive. It was part of my preparation. I always try to tell myself that it's okay to be nervous and have the butterflies at anytime except when I'm taking my final breath. I announced 52m and felt pretty confident about making the depth since I had made 51m several times with no contractions. I had planned to go deeper but we ran out of chances to train for deeper depths, so it was best to stick to what we all knew we could do.

The whole day is a blur. I remember Mandy (Canadian women's team) giving me a rub-down on my back, legs and shoulders on the boat. I could see divers from other countries eyeing me enviously. :) I felt completely relaxed. The sky was overcast and the wind was starting to come up. My forty-five minutes was announced and I slipped into the water. I swam to me warm-up line. The viz was amazing, about 35-40m. I could see Rodin O'Hagan from the UK warming up on the line across from mine. He was also going for 52m. My warm up was going well. I had done 5min of facial immersiona and a hang below the thermocline to cool off and I felt great. The absence of the sun also worked in my favour. Since it was my last chance to do any deep diving in Ibiza, I made some fun dives to 15-25m and watched the action on the other warm-up lines. Kirk would come down and hang out with me. It was very comforting.

Soon it was time to go. I put my face in the water, breathing calmly through my snorkel, while Kirk and Mandy dragged me over to the "ready area" where the official gauge was put on my wrist, and then finally over to the competition line. I kept my face in the water and continued to breathe slowly. Since I have no set breathing pattern, I wasn't worried about the countdown. I opened my eyes to see my tag slipping slowly down the line on a 'beaner. I smiled. "Two minutes!" Kirk echoed the official time keeper. My heart beat was still slow. At 30 seconds I lifted my head from the water. I opened my eyes briefly to look at the judges and then closed them again and started packing. At "zero" I piked my body and down I went. Equalizing (sometimes a problem for me) was easy. I saw the flash of a camera go off as I passed 15m. Soon the thermocline enveloped my body (YES!) and I let myself sink. The coolness down there was soothing. I wanted to stay.

I looked up and saw the tag from a mile away. I sank some more and grabbed the line and stretched and.....#$&# the tag was just beyond my grasp by less than an inch. I reached again, but nothing doing. I couldn't move my upper hand or be disqualified by a double line pull. I considered my options at 52m. It would only be one point deducted from my score. I looked again at my tag moving in the current. I came all the way and I'm SO close! I decided to wait and see if the ocean would present me with my tag. After about 5 or 6 seconds (time is all screwed up at depth so I can't be sure, the tag floated up within reach of my fingers and I snatched it and started back to the surface. The ascent was easy, no contractions and I smiled at the safety diver.

I surfaced, breathed, gave the okay, smiled and cheered. I swam over to the judges, handed over my tag and the gauge.
Suddenly, I was floating on my back, looking up into the rain falling (a good sign, Kirk had said during my warm up when it had started) with a HUGE smile on my face. What a great feeling!

I have more stories if you're interested.....

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this is rather long...

My First Samba

I had been practicing static all week in preparation for the last day of competition. After my successful constant ballast dive, I was pretty excited to do well. I had also had an interesting experience with my first samba in static!

I do two warm-up statics and then my target. I don't hyperventilate at all, just slow breathing unlike some of my teammates on Team Canada. When I take my last breath, I pack around 10 ten times or so until I feel nice and full but not straining to keep the air in.

Usually, when I do wet static (and I really haven't done that many except in competitions here in Canada) I just float face down in the water until I come up. I've never put my hands on the edge of the pool or anything.

Anyway, on my target static with Mandy spotting me I got my first contraction at 4:15 and started to resist the next contraction as I was learning was important for me to do. The contractions were well spaced and I was feeling good. At Club Med they had underwater speakers and so I was lost in the song that was playing and resisting contractions. After a while, the contractions got harder and harder to resist and so I came up. I felt my hand dip twice in front of me and the world suddenly came into focus:confused: I immediately said to Mandy, "That was a samba, wasn't it?" She said that I had taken a few difficult, sputtering breaths and then come around. "How long?" I asked. "5:57," she said. I couldn't believe it. The last signal I remember was at 5:15 or so. Apparently I had continued to give strong okay signals at every 15 second tap. I couldn't believe it. My mind had no memory of those taps. Mandy said that if I had been able to hear her clearly and if I had breathed more aggressively in my recovery, I might have avoided the samba.

I decided from then on in the last minute of my statics to lift my head out of the water and grab the pool lip so I could hear the signals more clearly.

Two days later, I tried this out and made 5:32 easily. As Mandy announced the fifteen second intervals during my static, she said," Remember these signals, Peter, stay clean!" :D It worked. In a way, I'm happy I can space out underwater, it means I'm relaxed. Since I do most of my statics dry for lack of a buddy, I had to adjust my static "technique" to help me stay aware underwater.

:) The competition.

Like my constant, I was nervous in the hours leading up to the event. But I had repeated to myself over and over again the night before, "When you get to the competition line, you'll be calm and your heartbeat will be slow and soft. You'll have a smile on your face."

But hell, I was nervous! :( Everytime I sat up and watched the five lanes of competitors floating face down in the water and the more than three hundred people watching, I felt my stomach twist and flip over itself. I had almost three hours before my 45 min warm-up began. That's a lot of time to kill and stay calm. I went outside and did some pranayama. It was windy and there was a thunderstorm advancing on the island of Ibiza. I lost myself in the raindrops and the gusts of wind and the smells carried in it. My nervousness vanished. A half-hour before my 45 min, I did some qi-gong "standing" which totally relaxed my legs. It was difficult to walk around. I felt weak but good at the same time. Mandy would be doing her static in the lane right next to mine, since she had also announced 4:30. Already the good news was coming in. Cali and Tara had both been successful in their statics. I would be the first of the Canadian men to go, since both Tom and Dan Hodgins had announced 5min.

I put on my wetsuit and waiting on the edge of the pool for my name to be called. I just sat there, relaxing until about 20 min before my "go time" and then I started my warm-up statics. When it was time to go, I smiled at Mandy and filled up my fluid goggles with saline. Ken, the alternate, dragged me over to the line. This was it! I had Sebastian Nagel, the President of AIDA, as my judge. That made me feel good. I said hello and propped my chin on the pool edge and relaxed some more. I felt I was in top shape: my legs and body was as relaxed as I could make it, my warm-ups had gone well, and I was calm at the line.

The official count started and soon my face was in the water. As time drifted away, I felt my diaphram tightening. So soon! I was sure it was way too earlier and the thought of aborting came to me. I dispelled it, I'm at the World Championships! I felt my first tap at 3:30, then 4:30, and I was still resisting my first contraction. Finally I let it hit me and then I grabbed the edge of the pool so I could hear Ken's voice. At 5:32 I pulled up and I felt fantastic. It was clean and almost immediately another huge smile broke over my face. It was over. I looked over at Mandy and she had done 5:06. Soon we heard the unconfirmed rumour that the Canadian women had moved into first place!

After we were all done, the team staged some fun synchronized swimming-style photographs in the shallow warm-up pool. When they get developed, I'll post them on my website. We were all smiling and looking forward to some champagne for a job well done.

The very last line of people going was exciting. Martin Stepanek was in the lane next to Herbert Nitsch. I expected Martin to pull up early. It was his first competition and he found it difficult to concentrate with the insane media attention he was getting. He stopped his static early and watched Herbert push it. I had seen Herbert do 7:49 in practice and come up with a smile. On another breath hold over 7min, he had his first contraction at 6min!

Herbert's body buckled as he passed 7min, then 7:45, then 8:00. At 8:13 he pulled up. The whole place erupted in applause. From where we were we couldn't tell if he had made it clean. Apparently, he had a samba and had difficulty breathing. The focus of everyone in the building on one person holding his breath was amazing.

The Italians took this as their cue to jump into the pool and start cheering like crazy people! They sang all their national favourites including "O sole mio," "Funiculi, Funicula." Umberto Pelizzari had pulled up early at 5:38, but more importantly his team had won. He was the most rabid celebrator and the loudest.

Later that night, we all saw what happens when over 100 freedivers, who have been denying themselves their indulgences for the last several months in preparation for this competition, finally let themselves loose.

Most of all I was happy that I had been able to do what I knew I could do. It isn't the numbers of time and depth, but that I could do it when it counted. I guess that's the thrill of competition. And I guess the sea wanted me that day.... :D

One thing that I really appreciated about this competition was the high level of sportsmanship. If someone was disqualified because of a samba or blackout, no one ever made fun of them. Usually, people asked with genuine concern if they were "okay." Hubert Maier from Germany had a serious blackout 8m under and was pretty shaken up. He hoped his mother wouldn't find out and told me on static day that the night before had been interrupted by dreams of blacking out over and over again. I congratulated him with feeling when he pulled off a 7:03 static. I think freedivers have a sort of empathy for each other. A serious samba or blackout is never a good thing.

It was also nice to commiserate with other divers who have to train in cold black waters all year round like Jero and Topi.

cheers (and still obviously in withdrawl from all this and some of the cute Club Med staff),

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Thanks for the stories!! It certainly sounds like you (and others) enjoyed themselves tremendously. I have to say I am feeling a bit jealous after pulling out from covering the event at the last moment (although our contacts have informed us how difficult it was for press out there).

Let's keep the stories coming from the other members of the forum who either went to Ibiza or have heard stories!!

Bring on Hawaii 2002...
Erik, here we are...
There's not much to say about my results in Ibiza. I was totaly unprepared cause I had a diving incident two weeks before coming to Ibiza. But since I didn't expect much maybe that was the reason that I was totaly relaxed at competition. I didn't go for results I just wanted to come clean, no samba, no BO.
But this is how I expirienced my first constant weight competition.
We went with the boat to the competition zone, and I was in the first group on the first day wich had it's benefits (like I didn't have to jump in the water changing boats...). The organization was a bit poor, but it got better later.
I jumped in the water for my warm up dives, went to my warm up ropes, explained to my assistant how will I do my warm up (two dives, both free immersion) and then I started my breath up. The warm up lines were on the sides of the boats wich is not a good idea, you will see why later...
After my relaxation and breath up I was starting to pull myself wtih my hands on the rope and my eyes closed. I was in "nirvana" but something wasn't right! I opened my eyes and realized that instead of pulling myself down I was pulling the rope up!!! The organizators didn't put enough weight at the bottom of the rope!!! Free immersion warm up was out of the question! Since I announced only 42 meters I was so relaxed that I started to laugh.. I've decided to do another "normal" dive. I've started to prepair and soon I was off. The dive was beautifull, I've turned around slowly, enjoying the moment, everything was great. As I started to ascend I closed my eyes and let my self be pulled up by bouyancy. I was feeling so secure, relaxed, easy, beautifull and then BAMM!!! I have hit the bottom of the boat with my head. I totaly forgot that it was there!!! My assistant grabbed me in panic and pulled me out, starting to take off my mask, starting to apologise for not warning me!! I started to laugh once again and told him that everything was OK, not to worry.
I just said to myself, that was some warm up!!! Champions warm up!! I can't imagine what it would happen if my announced depth was around 50 or so...
But, my competition dive was great, beautiful... and I have some pictures to prove it :)
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going down...


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I wish someone had taken pictures of me:(

That way I could prove that I was actually there - people don't seem to think the tag is that big a deal :eek: They forget that we all had to go down and get them....

Thanks Jero. I just looked at your pictures and was joking to my wife before the image downloaded that "this will be a picture of Jero, but I still wont know what he looks like because he'll be all decked out in neoprene!"
Glad you had a good time, and hope that your hood still fits over the bump on your head ;)
Cheers, Erik Y.
This is me getting caught red handed by Rodin after we smuggled 2 of Steve Fullers finest sangria into the presentation tent, I was pouring it for someone else - HONEST!!! ;)


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