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Should AIDA Allow Sambas in Competition?

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
It can take a long time to get an up-to-date response or contact with relevant users.

Should AIDA Change the Samba Rule?

  • No - it's fine the way it is

    Votes: 25 33.3%
  • Yes - they should allow competitors to attempt to recover under their own power

    Votes: 12 16.0%
  • Yes - they should change it so that any shake at all is classified as a samba

    Votes: 2 2.7%
  • Yes - they should attempt to change it so that it is less subjective

    Votes: 36 48.0%

  • Total voters
Quick question. LMC, does this not mean Loss of Motor Control?? If a diver can remove their mask and remain above water, how can they be said to have had a LMC? I must be misunderstanding something. Some people get ticks in their eyelids and/or neck for no apparent reason while completely relaxed! It would be unfortunate to get these during a comp!

Is there an explanation available for the LMC/Samba rule that I could look up or have explained? Or is it simply up to the judge to base on her/his experience and training what is and what is not a LMC/Samba?


You bring up a good point Aaron - it is supposed to be about losing control, not about shaking or looking bad... what is an objective test for losing control? Maybe signing your name within 5 seconds of surfacing or something?

The problem that this raises however is that then there's an extra thing for the diver to worry about when they surface... it's not longer "surface, hook breathe, ok", it's "surface, hook breath, sign your name, do a dance, kint a jumper" type thing...
[QUOTEit's not longer "surface, hook breathe, ok", it's "surface, hook breath, sign your name, do a dance, kint a jumper" type thing... [/B][/QUOTE]

I was told by a judge that my hook-breathing would probably get me disqualified in an international comp....then another international judge who witnessed the exact same performance said that it was a perfect recovery and that it showed that I was in complete control!
Don't tell me there is no subjectivity in AIDA judging ;)
Erik Y.
I can see the problems this raises, and I wouldn't suggest a test to judge LMC. I was just thinking about how a diver could be judged for things like cyanosis, glassy eyes, possibly a shivery uncomfortable look ect. and how these are termed (sometimes) LMC.

Is there currently a criteria used by AIDA to judge LMC? Possibly something like the exit evaluation that has already been posted?

Good... or should I say BAD example of the "standards" eh? Hard to believe that there is that much lack of uniformity on something as basic as hook breathing on recovery!

LMC Subjectivity/Standards

I think one of the funiest things is what does not seem to be clearly specified. Supposedly you are DQ if you show any sign of LMC.

Has it been clarified whether a contraction after you lift your head up or arrive at the surface counts as LMC?

Is it possible to accept that it is not an LMC, when after 4 minutes of your body undergoing contractions, it may take a few seconds for it to actually get enough oxygen to counter the CO2 acidity that is triggering the contractions. The body can keep having contractions after you breath.

During a competition dive I had a video review by the judges to determine whether I had LMC. 2 judges were leaning towards Samba because as one judge put it "your lungs seemed to move involuntarily". OK. Yes contractions are involuntary and they were so the whole 3 minutes of having them. The only reason they noticed my movement in my torso was because I had a bad habit of standing up immediately after a breath-hold previously.

Ended up there was nothing visible on the video so they let me go. However, had this been a national or international competition, they would not have let me go.

Tyler Zetterstrom
It was previously mentioned that AIDA has to be strict and that they have the right to object based on AIDA standards. That missed the whole point that was being addressed. The point was that strictness is wonderful... if you can be accountable for the reasoning. Therefore the issue is not with the judges, but with the standards they are abiding by. If the standards are not clear enough currently then we should be thrilled that so many people are supplying information and suggestions that could improve that standard.

A Quote:
"If the governing AIDA body so chooses, they will make changes as they see fit."

This really leaves me with the sense of a closed non-communal organization. Dictarian. There are people around the world with vast more experience and combined make up a much more thorough exploratory "body" into standards/safety/science/etc...

I think that the majority of posts here support the idea and desire that AIDA should be a little more in touch with what is happening in the community mindset. Take feedback as to their judging techniques and use those to address reoccuring problems and concerns. That is under the assumption that AIDA is interested in growing participants and less bouycotting.

Tyler Zetterstrom
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Tyler brings up an interesting point -- contractions are in a sense, loss of motor control -- they are involuntary. So, you are allowed to have LMC during the apnea phase, but not during the recovery or the breathing phase.

German record holder Stephanie Ortlepp used to get samba-like symptoms (shaking of hands or fingers) during the static apnea, and they would go away during the recovery. She was never judged as LMC. So, once again, it seems like you are allowed to have LMC during the apnea.

In fact, you may actually be allowed to have a blackout during the apnea. Tyler was once spotting me on a static breath-hold in the pool. I over-packed my lungs and started getting light-headed. I was wearing a ton of weight and planning on doing my static on the bottom of the pool.

As I packed the last few times and got super light headed, I knew a blackout was imminent from the crush on my heart, so I went into the water, onto the bottom of the pool, and blacked out on the bottom, face down. I woke up about 5 seconds later since the pressure had compressed my lungs and relieved pressure off my heart. I continued for a 5'15" static. Once I came up clean, I asked Tyler if he realized that I had blacked out in the beginning of the static -- of course he hadn't noticed.

Even Tanya Streeter has admitted to blacking out on the sled in the first few meters of the descent (from over-packing), and then 'waking' up around 15-20m and continuing the dive.

Eric Fattah
BC, Canada
I voted for the second option in the pole, thinking that within reason, competitors should have the oppurtunity to recover from fairly minor or moderate Samba's. When boxers are knocked down they are not disqualified the instant their back touches the canvas. Yes, at times (later) the referees will look into the eyes of the boxer and test them in various ways, but the boxers are given the chance (time) to pick himself up off the canvas, go to his corner and collect himself. He's allowed to even clutch the ropes as he staggers back to his corner! It's one of the things we love about sport: the man who comes back from the brink of mortal defeat, reaches deep within himself and sometimes vanquishes his opponent.

I like the example bobbybutr from San Antone brought up. I've always felt that one of these days a 1/2 miler (800m) would drop dead after crossing the finish line. Years ago it was considered a distance event: runners would start off fairly slow, pace themselves, then kick to the finish. Later it became a "middle distance" event, today it is virtually a two lap sprint! :blackeye
I'm not perfectly familiar with international track rules, but I would bet that if in a major competition an 800m runner broke a world record, then collapsed and died after the finish line, the record would stand. His gold medal might go to the second place runner, but at least in the hearts and minds of the world watching and I think, officially, he would be the record holder.
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The Next Step: Controlled Airway

I think this is a great discussion. One of the better of the many that have been entertained on apneadiver, the Chat_Aida list and so on. I say entertained because so often they degenerate into an 'AIDA sucks' shouting match between factions.

Personally, I'm of the view that the terms LMC or Samba, should be thrown out and replaced with the idea of a "Controlled Airway." This solves the problems we've been discussing (feel free to point out any flaws in my reasoning!) If a diver surfaces and for some reason slips beneath the surface or sambas so hard and faceplants and is unable to recover on his or her own (given five seconds or until they blow out all their air (blackout)), they get disqualified: "DQ-No Control of Airway"

So this means if a wave splashes over his face it's no problem. The diver still has control of his airway it he continues to breathe. If he is blue, no problem. If he has a facial tick, sneezes, stare off into space--no problem, as long as he keeps his airway under control.

Claude Chapuis, founder of AIDA, often talks of "controlled performances," meaning no sambas or blackouts. In the past, AIDA has argued that allowing samba puts divers at greater risk of accident and blackout. He's wrong: abadoning the LMC rule means that divers will seek "performances in which they are in control of their airway." If you are making dives and having LMC, you are flirting with a blackout. If you are training for a competition, will you risk a depth you can only make with a samba? You are already so close! On a bad day you could easily blackout and get no points at all. Perhaps you'll take the risk with safety divers around (it's no secret that competitions INCREASE the risk of samba and blackout, especially in more inexperienced freedivers). But by yourself, with your friends, I just have to assume that you will dive to depths you can do with a clean (airway ok!) recovery.

Talking about a controlled airway also hammers home the point that AIDA people often use as their justification for the LMC rule: safety. What the hell is a samba to a normal person? I can't count the number of times I've had to explain what it means to someone not familiar with freediving. How does a dance move figure into a serious freediving competition rules? How does avoiding a samba save your life or convince people that you are being safe? It takes a lot of explaining, doesn't it?

Maintaining control of your airway, on the other hand, is very easy to explain:
"Well, Jed, if ya don't keep yer head above water, yer dead!" Plain and simple.

Put another way: If I have a kid. And my kid wants to learn how to freedive. I would show them a blackout on video. I would not say "never let your face twitch when you surface from a dive;" I would say: "If you push yourself when you are alone, you may not be able to keep your mouth above water when you surface. And then you drown. Those people on the video, kiddo, if they didn't have a buddy, they would be dead."

Anyway, you know my thoughts on the matter now. ;-)

I think the real challenge is how the athletes and spectators should lobby their AIDA chapters and AIDA international to consider their recommendations. Boycotting AIDA's judging at the Dolphin's Cup or possibly in Cyprus next year I think helps send the message that athletes are not happy with the system. But let's take it one more step: What about a petition? :duh In know it sounds old school, but if it gets enough names and is sent to AIDA international, and as many national organizations as possible, it would be a strong voice in the debate over rule changes. As you may know, Sebastian Nagel and the AIDA board are going through a review of AIDA rules, in time for next year's freediving season. So far they have shied away from the samba rule (they've already seen the wild debate enough times), but discussion of it is inevitable. Why not put some pressure on?

The petition could be a Deeperblue thread--with a link to it on as many listservs, egroups and websites as possible. Another idea is to "sign" a form email and send it to AIDA directly as individuals (adding your name to the thread to confirm your participation).

"We, the undersigned, feel that the LMC rule and subjective judging are holding back the sport of competitive and recreational freediving. We support a new mode of verifying records and competition performances that holds the personal safety of every freediver as paramount, while not sacrificing the spirit of competition. We urge AIDA international to consider a new method of verifying performances on the basis of "controlling the airway" (or something better?) as it will make even more clear the imperative of safety to freedivers and spectators alike." (With a detailed and brief description of how it would apply to competitions from a practical point of view in static, dynamic and ocean disciplines.)

:D What do you think? The wording could be different, but what about the idea? I think it's time to find some consensus and speak up.


Vancouver, BC
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I vote with Pete, but I don’t know if "Control Airway" is the best term. I totally agree with his explanation though. I have heard the control airway term used to distinguish the action to take in a black out. Fore instance, if the person still has control of his airways and you can hear the air going in and out of his mouth, you don’t need to start artificial respiration. A term that referred to a person having control of their mind and body might be better.

Any ideas on a better term?
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I totally agree with Eric's suggestion, if the judges had to tell you WHY they DQd you (without you paying $50 for the privilege) and that reason had to fit a list of pre approved "symptoms" of samba then it would be hard to argue with.

A friend of mine actually had to go and argue that her partner "always looked vague" when he got DQd for looking spaced out in Cyprus.... the decisions on the whole comp were so extreme, all you could really do was laugh about it.. but when you had spent a fortune and given up your holiday only to get DQd for something that no one else can even see on a video it makes you mad.

If you went by AIDA rules I probably samba around 20 times a day (not including times I'm breath holding) and should not even get out of bed in the morning. Next time your partner kicks you with one of those cosmic jerks you get as you fall asleep - stick a red card in his face and charge him $50 to challenge it!

Don't know how many of you guys are members of the AIDA Athletes Yahoo Group but it seems like a lot of the information on this thread might be better directed there. No one was happy with the system in Cyprus. Least of all Howard who organised the whole thing. Hopefully next year will be different.

There is often a call for the unification of freediving boddies(AIDA, FREE, IAFD). But it seems to me that there is a lot to be gained by having more than one governing body. A one party system is'nt very democratic, it doesntt cater for the will of the majority. If there were organizations other than AIDA offering competitions of the quality of the Sony Freediver Open but with alternative judging criteria, we could then vote with our enterance fee's. AIDA would soon get the message. Judging criteria aside, what freediver would chose to attend a competition offering C.W and static over a competition offering C.W and F.I or Unassisted???
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How do you get on the AIDA athletes yahoo group? Do you have to be an AIDA Member or possibly have competed in an AIDA competition? I would be interested to follow the thinking of the athletes there as well as here.

Limiting performances.

I think the Samba LMC rules are designed to limit performances. In the same way as it has been said that limiting the use of nose clips and modified masks or no masks is designed to limit performances. Perhaps this is for safety's sake.

Why are we required to remove the mask and signal ok within 20 seconds ? I think that "in the beginning" the mask off and signal within 20 seconds rule was introduced to cut out any subjectiveness from the judges who may have called a samba when the diver could in fact perform motor skills.
In my opinion anyone that can perform a motor skill within a limited time period ( 20 seconds ) and not degenerate for a further 40 seconds passes. Let the divers dive and judge them on the objective survivability of the dive. Like Samdive said If you would have survived on your own ( without being lucky ie passing out on your back on the surface ), you get green.

The bad publicity thing is tosh. All publicity is often good publicity. When we dive we dive to make the depth or not. When we dont make the depth the obvious happens. Samba or blackout. That is what the competitive side of this sport is about. We cannot hide the element of samba, because its exactly that that we are competing against. We try to "avoid" Samba and blackout in our performances but its the biggest factor in the sport.
Formula 1 has crashes, Showjumping has crashes, Steeplechasing has crashes, rugby has the medics on the field every 10 minutes. Boxing has tko's ( sambas) and knockouts ( blackouts) Even cyclists fall off. and so will we have it 'well done' from time to time.

Left to continue this way divers may be forced to end up becoming a crowd of hoaxes that are versed in the camouflage of samba. Or diving 25% conservative. Perhaps we will attend clinics that specialise in teaching us how to hide a samba.
The emphasis should be on the success of the performance not the grace of recovery.

I support Aida completely, their professionalism and their efforts and don't believe that they have any ulterior motives for bombing players. But players are complaining of being dissed and sent off seemingly for no good reason. We should try to firm up the pass / fail criteria to a point approaching objectivity.


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Just a quick question that may or may not be related to the proposed AIDA rule change.

Do the members of AIDA not get any say in the organization?

It seems like, if AIDA members could vote, then the majority would rule as to what rules were in place, or at the very least about who was setting them...

How do people get on the AIDA board now? How do rule changes get approved?

Is this organization set up to meet the needs of their athletes or dictate to the athletes what their needs are?

Just curious...
AIDA democracy

Originally posted by JMD
Do the members of AIDA not get any say in the organization?
It seems like, if AIDA members could vote, then the majority would rule as to what rules were in place, or at the very least about who was setting them...
How do people get on the AIDA board now? How do rule changes get approved?
Is this organization set up to meet the needs of their athletes or dictate to the athletes what their needs are?
Just curious...

Ok, here we go...

AIDA is build up around representation through the AIDA assembly. The AIDA assembly is formed by two representatives from each member nation, one with the right to vote in every major question about regulations, etc. The board of each national federation (CAFA, USAA, AIDA Belgium, what have ya) chooses who gets to represent them in the assembly, and the national boards are voted from the individual members of that nation, the freedivers. The assembly is the forum that elects the AIDA board for a two year fase.

In order for the board to have direct contact to the actual freedivers around, AIDA has 3 public yahoo mailing lists, Liste_AIDA for public announcements, Chat_AIDA & Athletes_AIDA for general discussions. Usually Sébastien Nagel opens a topic on Athletes_AIDA or Chat_AIDA, before the board works more with an idea and then asks the opinion of the assembly. He doesn't exactly have to do this, but he does. In addition, anyone can make suggestions on these lists and do, and new concepts are actually taken into consideration if it's valid enough.
Also, many AIDA actives, board or assembly, frequent other central mailing lists like apneadiver and the forums of DeeperBlue, getting more input from these parts of the community.
That's the democracy of AIDA for all I know. For kicks, I have attached AIDA's by-laws, if any of you is interested in reading them.

You may ask yourself, why the heck is he making this propaganda rampage for AIDA, sounding like followers of FREE? My answer is 1) because no one else aparently is doing it, and 2) because some of you sound like AIDA is this big piece of dictatorship, and I really don't see it that way. I don't have a word for what AIDA was in the 90's, but she ain't a dictatorship today. At worst, she is no worse than any other international sports federation around.

Chris Engelbrecht, Copenhagen


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Thanks Chris,

I honestly had no idea, which is weird as I'm a member of CAFA. I did vote for the CAFA board but had no idea how that translated internationally.

I was also unaware of the AIDA lists, which again is weird, as I was aware of the CAFA list, but have never heard mention of those before.

I geuss the question that I was trying to pose, awkwardly admitedly, was why kick around an organization you have a democratic say in? If your a member you have your say when you vote in your board. If your not going to be a member then why should you have a say?

So I geuss what I'm wondering do other people think they have any influence on the decisions AIDA makes? Do the annual elections give you an opportunity to bring issues like this to bear?
I have seen a lot of suggestions and thoughts on the mailing lists being delt with and be the basis for regulation changes. Of topics posted by 'regular people' that lead to actual changes, I can think of:
* Penalty points instead of disqualification at illegal use of rope (for competitions, not record attempts)
* That English is the sole working language in AIDA (it used to be French!)
* Balot voting of judges in big competitions
Not every suggestion causes changes, though. That's how it is.

Search www.yahoogroups.com for the names of the lists I mentioned and you shouldn't have any problem finding them. Otherwise, the Deeperblue forums is being used widely in the freediving nation, so just posting here includes a voice (or though posting on AIDA's official lists makes absolutely sure you're heard).

Chris Engelbrecht, Copenhagen
"However, if in doubt I think the the decision should be pro the athlete."

No the decision should be pro the athlete that was judged previous to you. The one that holds the current record or the one that does better than you. He does not want to be beaten by an athlete that performes a shaky questionable dive.

Rule number one should be:
#It is the athletes responsability to make it easy for the judge to judge him.

- Dont do any jerky movements when surfacing.
- Keep warm and dont freeze so that you shake.
- Show your face to the judge. (Stare as much as you like).

It is a question of training!

If you are too low on oxygen - the first thing failing you will probably be the diaphragma - causing lips to shake (flutter?) due to breathing in small short bursts (due to failing nervous system sending erratic signals to any muscle trying to do something (in this case the diaphragma) (am I right?)).
(Like Herbert N 8.08 at Ibiza STA 2001).

If both athlete an judges do their job correctly there will be very few jurys in tie situations. It is a question of training for both parties. Those LMCs are actually quite easy to spot in 99.5 % of the cases, I would say. As long as the athlete dont do unecessary movements.

1) Subjectiveness is not good.
2) But if we want to keep hypoxemia out of the sport (LMC) we need to draw the line.
3) Many sports are judged subjectively (ice scating , gymnastics...).

This sport of ours is maturing each season - I think we will get the hang of it eventually (also thanks to guys like Fattah and Rudi C questioning the sport from a sideline perspective - thank you).

Sebastian /Sweden
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