Sunday, 16 October 2011

Results from the DNF finals

Event four – Dynamic without fins finals

Last night the finals were run for the dynamic without fins event. As previously mentioned there were 23 men and 23 women in the finals with two divers run at a time. The finals were scheduled to occur between 5 and 8 pm. Obviously that was never going to happen since 23 starts requiring a minimum of 10 minutes each does not fit into 3 hours, but no one would commit to any schedule changes prior to our announcements. I announced 127m, the second highest. I really didn’t care too much about what the others did but like to have a high announcement in case of a draw in the results (the higher announced performances wins). I wasn’t very happy to find that my Official Top (start time) would be 8:40pm. This is very late for me. I also had to have a Lepin squeezy prior to my dive to keep my energy up (since dinner was so late), which I’m pretty sure kept me awake until very late last night along with the judges having a good chat on our floor until 1am (there is no sound proofing).

The day dragged and slowly moved from 12 hours to official top until I finally found myself in the pool. I’ve only experienced this once before when I had 12 hours between dives in Aarhus. My static was in the morning and then I had to wait around forever to do my no fins final, which was a pretty miserable performance. Yesterday I did try to move my day slightly, getting up and eating later than usual.

Anyway, my dive felt fine. I was a bit slow taking my final breath (I seem to be packing a lot more than usual, so must focus on doing good big packs) and possibly missed out on a few packs as I dipped my head under at Official Top + 9s (more than 10s is a penalty). I was pretty relaxed and any negative thoughts that popped into my head disappeared as quickly as they came. I came up when I needed to breathe which was 148m (remember this is an Olympic 50m pool, which reduces DNF performance length). I didn’t know I was so close to the wall, but I did know that if I touched the wall I’d win gold. Anyway, I needed to breathe so that was it and I won silver.

Congratulations to Jody from Australia who won gold (150m) and Dajana from Croatia who won bronze (153m with a 5 point (10m) penalty). Also congratulations to the men: Fred from France won gold with 207m, Goran from Croatia silver with 194m and Rune from Denmark bronze with 193m. Kiwi William Trubridge came 4th with 174m losing his bronze after Rune won his protest. Chris did a massive 161m personal best and ended up 8th. Guy did not participate in this event.

I have announced much lower for the Dynamic final tonight to try to dive earlier. I’ll be on at 6:20pm. I hope that the low announcement doesn’t turn around and bite me as my competitors have all announced higher. I also wanted to maximise my break between dynamic and static tomorrow morning and actually be able to watch some other people’s performances.

The schedule has now changed to run 4pm – 8pm tonight. Remember that you can watch the live stream on-line at

Friday, 14 October 2011

Results from the heats

 Here are the results from the heats. Yellow highlighting indicates the 23 finalists.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Event three – static apnea heats

The static heats were last night. They ran all the heats in one session as opposed to splitting them over two evenings as they did with the dynamics. It was good to do them all at once, but did mean it was a little difficult coaching the rest of the NZ team and the honourary Kiwi stragglers we’ve picked up (Bjarte from Norway and Jodie from Australia who are here alone). Luckily we were all at different times. I unfortunately didn’t manage to see many divers but from the results lists you can see that mostly white cards were given out. The boys had a cut off of 6:06 for the 23 person finals and the girls were around low four minutes, so it was much as we’d expected going in. There were some impressive performances and I think there are some new divers that could surprise us with really great dives in the finals – watch out for the girls especially.

I coached Chris through a tough 5:24 static. He was in the second heat and this really is not his favourite event, but I’m pleased he did not pull out too early, I’m sure he was tempted.

I then disappeared to my room and rested for a couple of hours prior to my check in time. My official top was 6:58 pm (quite late to wait around for) and the little pool area is generally quite hot with not many chairs so it’s more comfortable to not stay there any longer than necessary before diving.

I got into a great relaxed state (almost asleep) prior to changing, but struggled a bit after.  I found the pool very deep and it was difficult to get comfortable with my head resting on the side. It’s meant to be 1.4m in the deep end and the organisers provided umbrella stands for those of us who could not reach the bottom very well, but they only gave us another 100mm. I’m not that short so I’m sure the Japanese ladies struggled much more. I don’t warm up so need to take the time to relax prior to my dive. I might just sit on the side for the finals and get in later. Anyway, having not trained a lot of statics in the last couple of months (unintentionally – it just worked out that way around travel and the last competition, plus my static training dive on arrival was aborted thanks to immense jet lag and a cold pool). I struggled a little more than usual with my contractions, and had a pretty strong heart beat for the first 2 or 3 minutes, not fast, just heavy. The contractions started pretty early for me, which I found a bit disappointing, but they were not too big or regular and I mostly managed to remain in control and pretty relaxed. The dive was fine and I have plenty left – in fact it was one of the first times I’ve gone over 6:30 without feeling very tired after. Just three or four hook breaths and I’d pretty much recovered. So I ended up first qualifier for the women’s final with 6:34. Hopefully this was a good training dive for the final and that my body is starting to remember so I’ll be a bit more relaxed for Sunday!

Guy did an easy 7:11 dive and William 7:02 for easy qualification to the finals. They were both just before me so I unfortunately completely missed their dives.

The static heats had four people at a time, starting every 14 minutes, ordered from smallest to largest announced performance. The organisers have LED displays of the times in each lane so spectators can see where the divers are up to and how much they achieved. It’s really great, otherwise you just have no idea unless you sit there with a stopwatch and really focus. It’ll be good for coaches and team captains in the finals too. Unfortunately they were announcing (in Italian) throughout the performances, but it didn’t really throw me, probably because I can’t understand it anyway – I barely recognise my own name.

The time for the static finals has changed to 9am Sunday finishing around mid-day in order to be able to complete protests, doping tests, etc prior to the closing ceremony. It’s not going to be fun for anyone to have to do a late doping test at about 10pm after dynamic followed by an early start in static. Remember that the finals will be live streamed on and

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Event two – Dynamic with fins heats

Day four of competition is now over. We have had two more days of heats, this time the Dynamic (with fins) event. Again 23 men and women will proceed to the finals, leaving about 10-15 of each without a spot. A good clean dive is almost a sure entry ticket to the finals with just a few of the newer divers or those who made mistakes missing out, but many pleasantly surprising themselves with a place.

Many of the competition issues have now been sorted. Announcements are in a mix of Italian and English, the start buzzer has thankfully been discarded, there are a couple of start lists available to the people in the stands, we no longer have to remain in the cage after check in (however it does provide quite a good view of the divers and a place for people to lie down should they choose to) and the countdown is clearer and correct. In addition, they have started to spell my name right, however people are still a bit scared of using Nevatt (rather than McPhee).

Yesterday I coached Chris through a rather tough 165m dynamic. He is starting to feel a bit tired from all his travelling and recent lack of pool training. But the dive was clean and he managed 20th qualifier for the finals.

I also coached Romain through his dynamic. He did not bring his monofin and choose to go without fins. He did a nice 173m dive but received a red card for not wearing fins. We protested as there is no rule requiring the use of fins for dynamic but the judges did not budge, despite the ambiguity in the current rules and the fact that the benefit of the doubt must go to the athlete. In addition there is no advantage to not wear fins in this event. They felt it was not in keeping with the spirit of the rules and the competition. Chris tried to protest the decision a second time to no avail. Expect some changes to the wording of these rules in the near future.

I was proud of my students’ performances once again and am pleased to be competing with them in the finals.

Today I did a nice 165m dynamic dive. It was a very pleasant dive again and another nice introduction to the pool. My start was terrible, I kind of got stuck somewhere on the edge of the platform pushing away from the wall, but I always take the first two or three kicks slowly anyway to sort myself out and set the tone for the rest of the dive, so it was fine really. My new technique is finally becoming natural and feels so much more comfortable. My new kick has a much smaller amplitude but I’m still kicking about the same number of times as previously. I have yet to time it but believe the dive was about 3 minutes. I have recently slowed down to a more leisurely and comfortable pace, my dives take longer but they tend to be less kicks and the distances covered are about the same, plus I am much more relaxed and sleepy throughout. The first length was 10 kicks, which I’m happy with, and I can’t remember after that. I only remember that one because I thought I’d suddenly better pay attention and the T was already underneath me.

A common problem seems to be that people are becoming more buoyant, myself included. When I arrived in France I kept sinking as I’m weighted for a very shallow pool and I tend to lose a little of my lung capacity while travelling. Now I have to swim right at the bottom as I seem to be very buoyant. I am able to do at least 5 more packs than usual, plus we are eating two four-course meals every day, which is likely to be the main problem. I was getting a bit too skinny before I left home anyway…

My poor old monofin is starting to delaminate after the travel and years of abuse, so we have a date with SuperGlue tomorrow. It’s almost time to consider a replacement/upgrade. I’ll have to try to sell a few more Orca suits to try to pay for it though.

Fellow Kiwis Guy and William also made the Dynamic finals, so thus far we have all qualified for all events entered. Guy did not participate in Dynamic without fins.

The girls’ dynamic performances are pretty high so the finals should be quite exciting and we shouldn’t count anyone out. I believe there are probably between 3 and 6 men with their eyes on the world record. Possibly 3 guys are realistically capable and another 3 that might not be too far off, so that should be pretty exciting too. Natalia is not here due to illness in the family so it will be interesting to see if any of her records are advanced on. Make sure you tune in to the live stream of the finals at www.europeevolution or

Tomorrow is a rest day and there is a trip to Venice organised. I’ll be completing the judge’s course and trying to avoid the great pleasure of strolling the streets of Venice. I still haven’t made it to the beach here and it’s only 5 minutes away! Static heats will be Wednesday evening in the 25m pool. This pool is very hot – about 29 degrees in water but the air surrounding it is a bit like a sauna so it could be interesting. I only have my Orca suit with me anyway, but I know others are intending to wear 5mm suits. Maybe we’ll see repeats of Timmo’s pants removal trick during static apnea. Hopefully the organisers will open the windows and get some ventilation going through the space. The depth is pretty nice at the shallow end (1.2m) but a bit too deep for me at the deep end (about 1.5m) and the pool edge is again level with the surface of the water, which should be nice.

Monday, 10 October 2011

First event – Dynamic without fins heats

I was lucky to be able to dive on the second day of heats. I was still feeling the effects of the travel on day one, plus we had the opening ceremony, the event committee meeting and the competition briefing prior to any dives. It was a big day. Plus I like to get a feel for how things are going to be run before plunging in. The initial countdowns were pretty terrible, incorrect counting, unnecessary announcements during the countdown, the use of a token start buzzer that sounds like microphone feedback and will help to draw even the most focussed divers out of their zone and high speed counting after official top (arrived at 10s in only 8s). By about the 4th start they seemed to have improved but the buzzer remains. All commentary is in Italian and so loud that all you can hear is an echoing noise as opposed to any concise words. Divers even need their coach to assist with relaying the countdowns as they can not hear the numbers poorly enunciated by an Italian speaker in a pool of echoes.

 Kiwi team: Chris Marshall, me, Guy Brew.

 I coached Anna from the UK who had travelled from Dahab, been delayed 32 hrs at Cairo Airport during a strike and lost her luggage before arriving at 2am the night before. Needless to say she was rather fatigued and stressed and was borrowing other people’s gear. She almost did quite well before blacking out momentarily on the surface after a few breaths at about 92m.

I also coached Chris who did a nice controlled 130m giving him a spot in the final.

German Barabara did a very nice controlled dive to 90 (ish) meters securing herself a place in the finals.

Day two, I coached Romain Doris, the Frenchman I’ve been training with in NZ. He has come a long way but still hasn’t taken on board all the minor technical things that can cost you dearly in competition. His dive was a bit of a mess with a couple of penalties and he mucked up his surface protocol when his new noseclip stuck to his face and did not come off before he signalled, so was awarded a red card (disqualification) and needless to say we were both very disappointed after how well he has been going in training. He will try again without fins in the dynamic with fins category, essentially to prove to himself that he can do the dive, and to gain some further experience.

My dive was one of the last at 7:40pm on day two. I knew I just needed to do about 100m to head through to the women’s finals. It was a lovely dive, very relaxed and sleepy. I breezed past my nomination of 113m and came up for an easy 128m placing me as second qualifier for the finals. It’s almost disappointing to not push a dive in competition but it’s all part of the strategy

There are a lot of quite new divers here. It is great to have them here participating and learning more about the sport, but at the same time you can see in the results that there are lots of technical errors that you really should not see at a World Champs event. I re-iterate that I offer a remote coaching programme which irons out a lot of these errors and perfects technique to help divers become stronger, gain confidence and get white cards!

Supporting divers is difficult. Lane A is adjacent to the stands and is fully visible but Lane B is on the other side of the pool. It is impossible to watch the dives in Lane B apart from their entries and exits unless you are the one coach allowed in the competition zone by the side of the pool. We don’t know who is diving as the start list is not posted in the stands and no one can understand the Italian who is commentating. Hopefully these little issues will be ironed out shortly.

AIDA Indoor Freediving World Champs 2011

The competition organisation has been interesting to say the least. They do not speak English and do not want to try. Communications have been in some strange and special language created by Google Translate. The liability release form was such rubbish that it will never protect them. The judges were informed on arrival that the organisers where just arranging the venue and do not want to know about announcements and results lists for example. They decided to run two people at once to save costs on bringing more judges. The finals will have 23 people in each, so pretty much everyone who did not black out with get another chance to dive and the high end result are pretty disappointing as there is no real race to qualify and move on. But, the pool is lovely – it is clear, clean, deep and fast. Unfortunately we are using the 50m pool for dynamic without fins when there is a perfectly great 25m pool just in the next room, but at the end of the day it is a competition and all athletes have the same conditions to work with. Competition is between 5pm and 8pm daily. I find it pretty late. I prefer to get up, have breakfast and dive then rest for the remainder of the day. But they are feeding us well and lunch does not seem to be affecting me.

The accommodation is pretty simple but adequate and the food, while becoming repetitive is abundant and easy. We have four course meals twice daily and I’m sure I’m gaining weight. My room looks out over the entry to the pool and it is about a 3 minute walk from my bed to the athlete check in at the other end of the pool complex.

Tomorrow I’ll be starting a judge course. I have resisted for many years, but think it would be beneficial to NZ freediving for me to participate. Besides, I’m no longer required to organise so many events as well as compete in them. It could reduce our entry fees somewhat by not having to fly another judge in from out of town or forcing one of the boys to not compete due to the fact that they are judging. I just have to remember to stop the stopwatch…

I am resisting the strong urge to visit Venice. It would be a big day of about 4 hours travel, plus Venice is a walking city. I’m trying to rest and conserve my energy for when it counts. I haven’t even made it to the beach yet. It’s only a 5 minute walk. I will get there soon!

The official website is and some results and photos have been posted there. There will be a live stream of the finals on this website and on  I believe we will also be aired on NBC.

Thanks again to my sponsors:

Firecrest systems, who are a Palmerston North and UK based marketing and web design firm who paid my competition entry fee and are preparing a website for me

Orca, who donate the odd wetsuit and allow me to sell their gear Please contact me either by email  or leave a comment with your email on this post if you’d like to purchase an Orca Free of Breathe wetsuit (other gear available too).

Journey to the World Champs 2011

I definitely appreciate the destination over the journey. The travel to Italy was gruelling despite no real delays or problems.  My mum was travelling with me and we had a great and exhausting stop over in New York. The first leg was about 27 hours door to door. We stopped in LA for a couple of hours from around 2am NZ time. It doesn’t make for great sleeping. New York was fantastic. We saw all the main sights, but three days was pretty light. We stayed in a cheap hotel just steps away from Times Square and went to a couple of Broadway shows, saw the Statue of Liberty, the new World Trade Centre, the Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton at the American Museum of Natural History, Central Park, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Guggenheim, the Met, Madame Tossaud’s, etc, etc.

From New York mum and I travelled to London where we took separate connection flights. Mum went to Rome to join an organised tour of Italy for 10 days. I went to Toulon to do a little training and recover from the jet lag with my training buddy from Fielding who has recently returned home to France. Two flights, two buses, two trains, and about 24 hours later I arrived at my destination. It was another tiresome journey with the stop over in the middle of the night, rendering me practically unable to sleep. I was staying with Olivier, a member of the local freediving club who has a home in Le Pin de Galle, perched on the edge of a hill just a few steps from the beach. It was lovely and really tested my memory of French. Romain and I managed a few training sessions, although some were aborted due to my general state of well-being (or lack of). I spent five days in Toulon and managed to catch up on a bit of rest and was starting to feel a little more normal by the time we departed. I suffered quite a lot in the heat, expecting it to be cooler at this time of year and coming from a country where it’s the end of winter. I had to purchase a skirt and some shoes to avoid perishing in the sun.

 Another 12 hours of travelling involving a car, two flights and two buses and we arrived at our final destination of Lignano Sabbiadoro in the North of Italy near Venice. This is the location for the AIDA Indoor Freediving World Championships 2011.

I don’t cope well with lost sleep but was lucky to feel pretty normal again after spending a couple of days in Lignano. It’s a shame to lose 2 weeks of training prior to such a big event, but I’m sure my body will remember just fine.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Ocean Hunter Deep Obsession 2011

Once again I’ve been a bit slack with my blog sorry! Another competition came and went – the Auckland Freediving Club hosted the “Ocean Hunter Deep Obsession” – surprising name for a an indoor event. I think they’re going to host part two in December where people will dive to the depths of Lake Pupuke. Yes, the lake does resemble its name, nestled on the North Shore of New Zealand’s largest city and home to many a duck, swan and eel. It does clear up a bit below 15m but is pitch black, great place to practise diving with eyes closed. They tend to limit the depth to 50m to avoid anyone getting stuck in the mud and having to swim back with additional weight.

Anyway, the competition was pretty average for me. We drove up to Auckland the night before, arriving quite late after an eight hour drive. Thankfully Mike, my Masterton buddy sponsored the drive. Tania from Wanganui came too – she’s my Palmy buddy.

I chose not to do a static. Statics fatigue me a lot these days. Anything over about 6:30 takes me a while to recover from. Besides, I set a new NZ record at the last competition and impressed myself enough with that. Statics were also in the afternoon after dynamics so I didn’t really have a hope of achieving anything fantastic. The new guys discovered this too with the largest struggle lasting just over 3 minutes. It was actually very refreshing to just have the new competitors in having a go without being “shown up” by the big boys. We’re pretty top heavy in NZ, so it’s good to give someone else a chance to “win” for a change.

I was quite proud of my buddies. Tania did a massive personal best of 126m dynamic without fins. We have been working hard on her technique and it is starting to come together. She just needs to keep practising the kick! It was Mike’s first competition and it took much convincing to get him there. He did very well with a dynamic of 65m. He’d only ever done one static session before and struggled through a bit, but I’m pleased he didn’t let that stop him. It was also great to see Gavin. He showed up to watch but ended up getting in for a static. He can still pull out 3 minutes without having done any training for what might be years now.

I managed a 158m DNF and 184m DYN. They weren’t quite the results I was after but I was happy enough. It’s always difficult when you have to travel. I was really just treating it as yet another training prior to the world champs and an opportunity to catch up with my old training buddies who I haven’t seen much of in the past couple of years.
Here are the competitors trying to sit on the bottom in exhale in wetsuits. Not sure that Wade understood the brief... Sorry everyone from Guy and I for blocking you! Tania is to the right of me and Mike is the one in the Orca suit looking like he should perhaps be at a different type of water recepticle... Photo by Phil Clayton:
A big thanks to Ocean Hunter for their continued support of competitive freediving in NZ. It's great to have some prizes! :) Here we all are at the prize giving (photo by Phil Clayton):

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Poor Knights Marine Reserve Trip

In August, Mike Smith from Ocean Hunter took a group of us up to the Poor Knights Marine Reserve for some diving. We had already postposed the trip once due to poor weather (my experience of the Poor Knights is always poor weather) and decided this time it had to go ahead. I seem to have this effect on the Poor Knights. I have attempted four times to spend weekends there and this was just my second day of diving! With the world plotting against us, we arrived in Tutkaka towing the boat only to have to return straight back to Whangarei in search of petrol for the boat.

Mike, who had just returned from a couple of weeks of glorious, warm, abundant spear-fishing in Tahiti decided to just be Captain Mike, a bit afraid of the cold water, diving without a speargun and probably the most convincing excuse was the new tattoo that adorned his upper thigh, incomplete due to the timing of his departing flight from Tahiti. We did manage to catch a glimpse although he became a bit shy about sharing.

My beautiful new Elios suit, that fitted so well and kept me toasty warm over summer let me down a little after the loss of about 6 kg (that’s what training does to me, I guess 10% of your body weight is significant when it comes to wetsuits). I should have known better and worn a vest but it was lost in a box somewhere with all my other worldly possessions. It was frustrating to have to get out and warm up regularly.

The first day, the weather was calm and overcast. The water was flat and the fish life swirled around us in abundance. We followed a rare surprise of a turtle. He came up and look straight into Phil’s lens. Perhaps he saw the reflection and though he’d found a friend. He must have been lost. I’m sure the Poor Knights is not warm enough for turtles.

After lunch and watching some big lively snapper swimming around under the boat, trevally jumping out of the water around us and a King Fish sniffing around, we headed into an enormous cave. There was nothing but us in the water but the light and visibility were spectacular. Poor Mike sat on the boat wondering what was so special down there in the darkness. The water was about 15m deep but you could see the ripples in the sandy bottom from the surface. I did not take my camera from the boat and have yet to see what photos came out of the cave, I’m sure they were pretty spectacular.

As the bad weather started to roll in towards us we found a sheltered area with lots of funs things to play with. There was a little cave that sucked in water and spat out air and another cave to ride through on the waves. We found an eel and nudibranch and the general fish life was still plentiful. The rain started and the water clouded over, and we headed for the shore, a little rougher than we’d started with.
The Bach was great. The outdoor shower was refreshing and we spent the evening in front of the fire, tired after a fun day in the sea. We had a great feast with dessert as Mike had neglected to inform us it was his birthday the day before.
The second day was not great. The weather had completely changed and the sea was stormy. All visibility was lost and the water had turned to soup. The boys had a quick dive on the local coast and managed to shoot one poor tiny fish which provided us each with no more than a couple of bite-sized portions each for lunch, but saw practically nothing. That was the night the snow came and we were all lucky to make it back home in time for work.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Wellington Winter Champs 2011

It's been a very long time since I competed. I really struggle for motivation in the meantime. Our last competition was eight months ago (if you don't count the depth comp that I very diligently sat out of and just participated as the safety diver).

Three months ago I moved from Wanaka to Palmerston North for work. Basically because there was none in Wanaka. Luckily I have a good group of reliable and enthusiastic buddies to train with and we have finally managed to arrange lane space to train in. Unfortunately we were struggling to get lane space initially so had to do a lot of static training in the play pool. This shows in my competition results. My statics in training have improved significantly. While I struggle to do anything close to a personal best in training after work I can tell when things are improving - the dives feel easier and I start to achieve greater performances. My dynamics are improving steadily but still have a way to go to get back to my previous results. I do feel they are on target, but definitely still require some work and dedication.

The annual Wellington Winter Champs 2011 are organised by the Lazy Seal Freediving Club. It was the first year I have not organised the event and it was a pleasure to sit back and see the boys have a go (which they managed very well). It was nice to be able to just concentrate on my own performances for a change.

My first event was Static apnea. I felt very relaxed and quite confident. I hadn't done anything truely magnificent in training, but my exhale training had increased by about 20s in the month prior and in training my comfortable max had increased by about a minute. It was one of the most comfortable dives I've ever done. The dive was no warm up (just relaxed on the side), no hyperventilation (no change in breathing patterns from normal), and no samba. I got my first contraction at about 4:15 without having to really hold them off. They did come quite regularly after this but they remained small and I managed to stay relaxed and in control. I aimed to not put my hands on the side until after 6 minutes as this normally makes me feel uncomfortable and I generally pull out quite soon after. I managed to not put my hands on the wall until around 7 minutes. I also asked my coach (Chris) to start the clock late as so many people pull out of there dives directly after a specific time call when they feel they've done enough. Anyway, he made me think I was about 10s behind where I actually was. I managed a new personal best and new national record of 7:34. The record places me second in the world after Russian Natalia Molchanova.
The whole dive was very relaxed and wonderful, a true testament to no warm up diving and my theory of retaining absolute relaxation prior to and through the first breath into the dive. As usual for anything longer than about 6:30 I felt very tired and wobbly for a while after. It seems to take me a long time to recover from these big statics.

Here is the video, sorry it's not very exciting viewing!

Unfortunately I felt a bit exhausted after the dive and it showed on my dynamics that followed. I managed 156m with the monofin (must start training with it again) and 144m no fins. I was hoping for a bit more in both, but I'll keep working on them and we'll see at the next competition.
A big congratulations to my Palmy dive buddy Romain Doris, who is pretty new on the competitive freediving scene. He managed 180m dynamic without fins, which places him 7th in the world and will give him the French national record (if AIDA France finally changes their dope testing policy for national records that makes national records unachievable for those who are not sponsored). Also to my other buddy Tania Wong, who is going to a be a really great freediver - we just need to give her a little more time. Tania managed a 104m Dynamic without fins.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Taupo Depth Training Camp

29 April - 1 May, Motutere, Lake Taupo I'm collaborating with Ocean Hunter to present a couple of full days of diving: 4x depth sessions and 2x theory sessions with a focus on helping you to freedive deeper. Note that this is NOT aimed at beginners, a certain level of knowledge and experience is required. Please make contact as below (Ocean Hunter, ph 09 377 0896) if you're keen to participate.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Website, coming soon

Orca wetsuits

I just wanted to let you know that there are plenty of the new Orca Breathe freediving wetsuits in stock here in New Zealand. Please make contact if you'd like me to arrange to send you one. The NZ$ is low post the Christchurch earthquake, so you could get a good deal.

Dive Camp 2011 - Wanaka, New Zealand

Dive Camp all started a few years ago with the Lazy Seal Freediving Club. We thought it would be a great idea to have a dive holiday in summer, where all participants contributed by sharing their knowledge and experience and supported each others’ diving, as opposed to a course where one person must take control. Now I have moved from Wellington and the club, and set up Deep South Freedivers in Wanaka, in the “Deep South” of New Zealand’s South Island. I wanted to keep the tradition alive and invited diving friends from around New Zealand and the world to attend Dive Camp 2011, in the height of our summer, in one of New Zealand’s most scenic locations.

Unfortunately the offer was not taken up by the great numbers that I had originally envisioned and the proposed competition to follow a week of Dive Camp had to be cancelled, but we had a great group of four lively young (at heart) women participating. Barbara Jeschke, German Freediving Champion and Cristina Kuemmel, Danish champion joined local novice Jane Hawkey and me for two weeks of freediving training in both the lake and the pool, a bit of tourism and a lot of laughs.

the girls: Cristina, Kathryn, Barbara, Jane
Wanaka turned on the charm with the strong winds finally abating in mid-February, on the weekend the ladies arrived and leaving us with hot settled weather. The lakes were calm, quiet and warm, with no thermoclines felt at all and 16°C recorded at -30m. It was like we had all the lakes to ourselves, with very few boats or even people around. We dived in various locations around Lakes Wanaka and nearby Hawea, where there are steep drop-offs, giving us much more depth than we needed only a short swim from shore. One spot dropped immediately to 20m or more from the shore, giving us one of our darkest diving days as we dived in the shadow of the adjacent cliff and low morning cloud hung around the surrounding mountains, creating an eerie sensation both on the surface and at depth. Not to worry though, we never lost sight of the rope and generally we had pretty good visibility despite rain from the previous week clouding up the water.

Out diving in Lake Wanaka: Jane, Cristina, Kathryn


The Wanaka Community Pool was, as always, very accommodating. It is a 25m, warm pool, a little shallower than ideal, but perfect for training.

Cristina practising her DNF

Stretches were done on the pool lawn looking out towards the mountains or on the beach before getting in. Barbara had plenty of funny analogies, such as the “naughty dog” neck stretch or the “lazy secretary” ankle rotations. Jane’s back yard set the scene for our dry apnea sessions, looking out over the idyllic wide, green Clutha River in the evening sunshine.

stretching at the beach: Cristina, Barbara, Jane

The Dive Camp concept worked well again, with even the most novice diver amongst us finding she had valuable knowledge to contribute. Each of the 15 scheduled training sessions had a theme that was mostly followed quite closely, giving us a starting point for discussion, debate and skill sharing then time to try what we had learned.

The participants were all inspirational in different ways. Barbara, aged 56 has done 18 iron man races (now given up for freediving) and looks much younger than her years. Cristina’s sense of adventure led her to jump off Queenstown Hill strapped to a strange man hanging from a paraglider, and trying sashimi and then getting addicted to it. Jane managed to juggle all the workshop sessions, a young family and work as well as preparing some great meals for us all.

As well as all the diving we managed to fit in a few little adventures. A trip to Queenstown included seeing old Cromwell, riding the gondola and the spectacular Shotover jet, and dinner at the old Cardrona Hotel on the return over the Crown range, New Zealand’s highest sealed road. We drift-dived the Clutha River, New Zealand’s largest river, from its source at Lake Wanaka for about an hour through to Albert Town, through some minor rapids and Dean’s Bank, scaring a multitude of trout as we passed. We walked up Mount Iron for a stunning 360° view over the area and went biking around the lake. We perused the sculpture exhibition at Rippon vinyard, one of the oldest vinyards in Central Otago. We took an overnight trip to Lake Tekapo with some disappointing salmon fishing in Lake Pukake on the way (we’re blaming the rain that day and low visibility in the lake!), a midnight visit to Mt John Observatory, where the night sky is a World Heritage Site and offers some of the world’s best star gazing (however up-side-down according to Barbara), had a dip in the hot pools over-looking the light blue coloured glacial Lake Tekapo and visited Mount Cook, New Zealand’s highest mountain. We joined Scuba Steve for a dive day in Lake Hawea with a picnic on the shore, and we dived at the head of Lake Wanaka followed by some hiking through virgin forest in the Mount Aspiring National Park with a visit to the Blue Pools.

At the summit of Mount Iron with Lake Wanaka in the background: Barbara, Kathryn, Cristina

Cristina at reflective Lake Hayes

Cristina about to jump off a mountain with a strange man

Rippon vinyard sculpture exhibition: Barbara & Cristina

One of the less pleasant New Zealand experiences for the Europeans was the discovery of sandflies and how much they enjoy biting foreigners. Not to worry though, they are not dangerous; they just leave small itchy bites. The ladies also experienced their first large earthquake first hand, but luckily far enough from the Christchurch epicentre to not be destructive or involved (other than emotionally) in the state of emergency that followed.

Dive Camp 2011, Wanaka was a great success with everyone learning from and supporting each other, enjoying the local environment, making new friends in the world-wide freediving family and just having a lot of fun in and out of the water.