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How do Freediving Competitions work? From safety diver to competitor!

Freediving competition in Honduras.. From safety diver to competitor!

With the annual Caribbean Cup Freediving Competition being moved to August later this year due to Honduran travel restrictions, a mini competition, held by Roatan Freediving School and Training center from May 16th to 21st 2021, has been proposed in its place. As athletes from places like South Africa, Korea, Argentina, Canada, Slovenia and France were already on the island to train and prepare for the larger Caribbean Cup, the smaller competition has presented itself as an excellent opportunity for some divers to compete for the first time. Our Freediving Instructor, Kathleen, who is on Roatan at the moment was initially preparing to act as a safety diver for the Caribbean Cup as she has in previous years: 

“For myself, the competition in May will be the first time that I switch sides. Instead of being a safety diver I will join the competition as a competitor. Since I escaped the European winter in January and came to Honduras, I’ve spent a lot of time training in different freediving depth disciplines, and I am looking forward to being part of this event in May.”

In the competition, divers can choose from four different disciplines:

·        Constant weight: The diver uses a mono-fin to swim down and up a vertical line, using the same amount of weight for both ways. The vertical line is used for safety and guidance only.

·        Constant weight bi-fins: Instead of a mono-fin, the diver wears bi-fins to swim down and up a vertical line.

·        Constant no fins: The diver doesn't use any fins and swims down and up the vertical line unassisted.

·        Free immersion: In this discipline  divers pull themselves down and up a vertical line.

“My favourite discipline has always been Free immersion. It is the most relaxing discipline for me and the one I feel most comfortable in. In Free immersion I can completely relax and let go, I close my eyes and empty my mind. I´m feeling very confident in this discipline and my depth is at the moment limited by my skills to equalise. Going slow and relaxed is a good way for me to work on that. Apart from that I started to train the no fins discipline. It is maybe the most opposite of Free immersion, being the most physical demanding discipline of them all but also the purest and maybe most elegant. I enjoy the feeling of moving in the water without any aids outside my body and really focusing on feeling every detail of the movements of my body. I´m still learning a lot in this discipline and understanding hoe deep I can go, not reaching the depths where my equalisation would limit me.”

Divers can choose the discipline they want to do every day and they have to announce their target depth for their dive the next day the afternoon before. During the competition and the last training sessions before every competitor gets to do one dive on the official competition line a day. A team of safety divers will prepare everything for them and take care of them before, during and after their dive.  To make sure that all dives are as safe as possible the diving line is attached to a floating platform that has a medical team with emergency medical equipment on it as well as a deep sonar that makes it possible to check on the diver at any moment. On the back side of the platform there is a counter ballast weight, ready to be released in case the diver, who is always attached to the diving line with a safety lanyard, needs to be pulled up. This, together with a competent safety team, makes deep diving very safe and gives the competitors the ease of mind to fully enjoy their dives.

Follow Kathleen’s personal story here

Check out this video by Olivier Server to get a glimpse of some of the participants in training:

Roatan Freediving School Training - YouTube

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