Wednesday, 26 May 2010

How to organise a freediving competition

I've recently been asked to document this information, so here it is. I hope it's helpful to you. You can post a comment with your email address if you'd like me to send you a pdf version. Don't worry, I won't make your comment public! Please make comments - I'd like some feedback.

General notes:

Please note that this document has been set up only as a guideline to assist competition organisers. It is not intended as a finite document and organisers must be familiar with the current AIDA International rules, statutes, guidelines and forms to be found in the downloads/documents section on the AIDA website: Organisers should also consider local laws when organising events and investigate whether or not insurance is required. Any insurance cover must also protect officials and volunteers at the event. The organiser’s greatest priority should be to ensure the safety of all the participants, officials and volunteers at all times throughout the competition.

World record competitions require a little more organisation, further information on this can be found in the rules.

1 Decide on an organiser

I would recommend that you do not organise a Freediving competition as an individual. Organise it as a representative of an incorporated society (your club or AIDA National). In NZ this protects you and other volunteers, removing your personal liability. Stay alert and ensure that all required safety protocols are followed to avoid any claims of negligence.

Organising a competition is not difficult, there is just a process to follow. I have tried to outline the steps in this document to make it easier for you.

2 Decide on a date

Ask around your freediving buddies to find out when they are free.

Check that your competition is not overlapping with school holidays (they tend to make people busy and travel costs increase).

Check that there are no big sporting events (olypmics, world cups, etc), especially if you are expecting records to be broken, this means you are more likely to get media coverage.

Check the pool is available.

If using open water check there are no other events scheduled, eg ironman, triathlon, jet sprints, regatta.

I'd recommend starting this process at least two months before the competition so that everyone can get themselves organised and start training!

3 Read the rules

It's a good idea at this point to have a quick read through the rules to ensure you remember everything!

4 Book the pool

Consider your timetable and check the pool opening hours.

Remember that you need to allow around 15 mins to get set up at the pool. Allow 15 mins for an official's briefing and another 15 mins for the competitor's briefing. Competitiors need to check in 1 hour prior to their official top time (this should be after their briefing is finished) and need to have pool space for warm ups 45 mins prior to their top. This said, you are probably going to need to be at the pool one hour prior to warm ups so check the pool is open 1 hour before your booking. Also try to get people there early to avoid delays.

Consider how many divers you will have. I like to allow around 10-12 mins each for statics (obviously for some people we need to allow more time, eg if Guy Brew is getting in we'd probably allow at least 14 mins: start up to 30s late, 9 min breath hold, 30s for judges to assess, 1 min for congratulations and to clear the lane, 2 min countdown and a small contingency in case he smashes his record). I allow a minimum of 8 mins for each dynamic and again a little longer for the slow boys: 10-11 mins. Allowing a reasonable amount of time reduces delays through the event and gives everyone time to do their jobs without panicking.

Work out how many sessions you want. In NZ most people only like to dive once a day. If you are having 2 sessions than you might be able to make the second one a little shorter. Give divers plenty of recovery time between their dives to avoid accidents, have time to eat and allow people to perform at their best. I'd suggest a minimum of 5 hours.

Remember that you should give the judges a 10 min break every hour too.

If you have to book open water space, now is the time. Also think through your schedule. Remember it can take a minute or so for the officials to re-set the line to the correct depth after each diver.

5 Invite officials

Send around a official invitation to all the local judges, medics, helpers, etc. Outline the competition: dates, times, no of sessions, etc. Give them a date to respond by. Ask for a list of their credentials: judge level, experience, etc.

Remember that the organiser is obliged cover the costs of the officials. This includes transport, accommodation and meals.

6 Send info to AIDA National

In NZ, the AIDA NZ board does the final selection for judges for competitions. This is to ensure that all judges get to have a go at judging regularly and removes favouritism from organisers. It also ensures that there are no conflicts of interest. We attempt to have 3 judges for our competitions (rules require 2). We also generally announce men's and women's competitions separately so that we can use competing men to judge women, competing women to act as medic for the men, etc.

From the respondents of the invitation collate a list of those who would like to judge, with their credentials and send it through to the board. I would normally offer my recommendation too and any reasons why. Make sure that they get back to you quickly.

Remember that if you are expecting 50% or more international divers (eg non-Kiwis in NZ) the competition will be international as opposed to national and there is a different minimum level imposed on judges.

7 Inform officials of their selection

Confirm that the officials still want to judge, etc.

Check with their schedules and book their transport & accommodation.

Remember that if you are organising a depth event then the judges need to be available to measure the rope (in daylight) and you will probably need additional time for briefings the night before.

8 Announce the event

All competitions need to be announced to AIDA International.

Send an email to the AIDA International Sport Officer:

The following information should be included:
Name of competition
Competition type (eg national, world record status)
Date of competition
Place of competition
Names of judges and their levels
Organiser name and contact details
Events that will be held (eg STA, DYN, CWT)
Length of pool
Performance restrictions (eg depths limited to 90m)

The email needs to be received by the AIDA International Sport Officer at least 2 weeks prior to the event. In NZ we aim for 6 weeks.

9 Advertise the event

Let all the local club and AIDA national members know that the competition will be occurring. Send them an email or invite them on facebook. Add the event to your website. Don't forget your sponsors!

10 Ensure you have enough helpers

Check you have:
Medic and in water safety divers (remember your warm up lane/rope)
Boatsmen, time keepers, photographers, etc

Remember to cover their costs.

11 Prepare a budget

Consider your expenses:
Pool hire & entry fees
Boats (hire, fuel, etc)
Officials’ & helpers’ transport, accommodation and meal allowances
Oxygen bottle refill
AIDA International fees (2€/competition dive)
Purchase of any additional equipment (tape measure, rope, tape, tags, video cassettes, etc)
Phone calls
Insurance (if applicable)

I normally also factor in a bag of snacks for the officials (to keep them alert) and a lunch for everyone (competitors, officials and supporters) once the competition is over.

Consider how many divers you feel you can be guaranteed to participate and divide the costs, minus any sponsorship by the number of divers to find out your entry fee.

12 Prepare forms

The following should be prepared so everyone knows what to expect and to make it easy for you as the organiser on competition day:

Competition information:
Name of competition
Competition type (eg national, world record status)
Date of competition
Place of competition (include address and directions if necessary)
Any sponsors
Names of judges and their levels
Organiser name and contact details
Name of medic and their contact details
Events that will be held (eg STA, DYN, CWT) and when/where
Description of pool: length, depth, temperature, etc
Description of open water: visibility, temperature, currents, link to weather forecasts, etc
Performance restrictions (eg depths limited to 90m)
Description of any fun events outside the competition
Competition fees
Any AIDA National fees that might also be due
Link to competition rules
Schedule: Closing date for entries/payments
Times & locations for briefings/event committees (officials & competitors)
For each session: Closing times for announced performances, how & where
First check in time & where
Warm up times
First top time
Estimated finish time
Recretional events
Times & locations of social events, meetings, etc

Also include forms for participants to return:
Entry form: Name, contact details, sex, nationality
Emergency contact with relationship and contact details
Events they want to enter into
Costs involved (ie to be able to keep this form as a receipt)
Where to send forms & fees, & closing date
What to include: Medical statement & medical certificate
Liability release form
Copy of passport (if necessary)
Statement to allow club and AIDA National to utilise video/images from the event at their discretion.

Medical statement (from AIDA International website)
Liability release form

Also prepare a safety/evacuation plan. The plan will identify potential risks and how to deal with them at the specific locations involved.

13 Checklist

Write a check list for everyone and delegate tasks so everyone knows exactly what is expected of them. Follow everything up in the week prior to the competition. Re-read the competition rules to check you have not missed anything.
My checklist from a previous indoor competition looked like this:
Joy medic & media contact
alert local hospitals & pool staff: provide with safety plan
issue press releases
help set up pool during warm ups (measure, lane markers, etc) – optional
bring: t-shirt, stopwatch, tags, medical bag

Tracy head judge & jury
help set up pool during warm ups (measure, lane markers, etc)
bring: t-shirt, stopwatch, tags

John judge & jury
help set up pool during warm ups (measure, lane markers, etc)
bring: t-shirt, stopwatch, tags

Phil judge & jury (women only)
help set up pool during warm ups (measure, lane markers, etc)
bring: t-shirt, stopwatch, tag

Braedon judge & jury (men only)
help set up pool during warm ups (measure, lane markers, etc)
videographer – women, dynamic events only
bring: t-shirt, stopwatch, tags

Tammy in water safety
bring: wetsuits, fins, mask, snorkel

in water safety Tammy & coaches
videography Gavin

in water safety Tammy
Videography Paul (men) & Braedon (women)

in water safety Tammy
Videography ? (men) & Braedon (women)

Chris post comp draws & results on LSFC website comp page when they're ready

Jude shop for Sunday lunch & host it

Gavin bring: video camera incl cords & housing

Kathryn LSFC rep (organiser)
receive entry forms, liability releases, med certs, money
confirm pool bookings
Pick up and bring extra O2 bottle from Air Liquide, Seaview
Shopping officials’ snacks
receive nominations
compile comp draws & results
bring: O2 kit & first aid & masks
rope (starts)
lane markers & tape measure
sticky tape
rules (incl NZ)
protest forms
comp draw
competitors' forms
pens, paper & clipboard for judges
refreshments for officials
petrol vouchers for officials
briefing outlines (official time, lane set up, judges/jury, safety plan)
laptop and cords (protests)

14 Receive forms

Make sure you receive all the entry forms and payments well prior to the event so you do not have to chase anything up on the day. You might want to send a reminder email out a couple of days prior to entries closing. Chase up anything that is missing.

Let the AIDA National have a list of entrants to check they have paid their AIDA National fees.

Re-confirm your schedule and make sure you have enough pool time booked for the number of entries.

15 Receive nominations

If you are organising and competing you may need to receive nominations through a neutral party (eg a judge).

Once the closing time has passed set up the competition draw, post it on line and print copies to post at the competition site and give to judges to record results on.

The competition draw can be:
Lowest announcement first / deepest diver first
Lucky draw

The draw should include the following information filled in:
Date, name, nationality, sex, event, AP (announced performance)
There should be empty spaces for the following information to be filled in by the judges:
RP (realised performance), penalties, reason (eg black out, broke surface, late start), points, comments (eg national record, personal best).
Don’t forget your sponsors.

The draw, once filled out can then be used as the results list.

16 Competition

If you’ve done everything as noted above the competition should run pretty smoothly.

Ensure the lifeguards and the local emergency services know what you are doing and have a copy of your safety/evacuation plan, plus some understanding of the dangers of the sport.

Brief the officials, medic & helpers first to confirm they are happy with the way things will run, then brief the competitors. The briefings should at least include the following:

Thank your sponsors
Introducing the officials, organising and outlining their roles & ensuring that they have the appropriate equipment
Showing the competition draw
Where/when divers need to check in
Where/when boats will leave
Locations for warm up zones & competition zone and who is allowed to be where and when
Where photographers & supporters may and may not be
Where coaches may and may not be
Safety plan
Official time
Protest procedure
Outline of basic rules (optional)

17 End of competition

Tally up the points and have a prize giving if you have prizes.

Thank your sponsors.

Thank the officials/helpers and give them any thank you gifts, vouchers to cover costs, etc that you feel are appropriate.

Return original copies of medical certificates to the divers if you required them.

Post the results on your website/Facebook page/Deeper Blue.

Send out press releases if required.

Rest and recover!

18 Competition results

File the official competition footage somewhere safe and provide the AIDA National with a copy if they require it.

Send a copy of the results to the AIDA Nationals of all divers who broke national records.

Within two weeks of the competition ending you are required to do the following:

Send results list through to the AIDA International Sport Officer:

Ensure that if the judges changed from the initial competition announcement, that the correct judges are listed with the results, so that they have the competition credited to them.

Pay the AIDA international fee of 2€ per competition dive.


While I've been home for a few months now and haven't yet found a job, I feel like I've been working full-time! The latest initiative is new pages on Facebook:

I have set up a Kathryn McPhee fan page.

You can also become a member of the group "Deep South Freedivers" to keep up to date with what I'm planning here in NZ. Check out the discussion area as I've put up a few things that might be worth you adding your 2 cents.

While you're at it, why don't you join the Lazy Seal Freediving Club group?