1. It is a good way to improve your depth and test your limits.
It is a safe place to experiment and a great learning opportunity. Some people come up to one month before to train. You don’t have to do a PB during a competition. But if you’re enjoying the training so much and on a roll, why not? Some of the freedivers who take part have not yet reached their personal limits yet. And consistently and confidently increase their depth with each training! And with each day of competition!
I increased my depth from 30-50 meters after a month of regular training in Roatan in 2019. I attribute this to the safety team, many of them Master students of Tex of Freedive Utila. Day after day we trained at the competition platform supported by the safety team who were so reassuring, encouraging, strong, and kind people. Particularly for someone like me who is sensitive to the environment and can get anxious easily, this kind of positive and supportive environment often brings out the best in me.
2. You hang out with the world’s best as friends and you can ask them for tips!
This photo shows how fun it can be. One thing special about the global freediving community is that it really doesn’t matter who you are – beginner, spectator, photographer, national or world record holder, judge or safety crew – we celebrate one another’s achievements with PB ice-creams and beers, grieve one another’s losses, and have fun together. For those who like to party, the after-party after the competition is a big event!
3. The only pressure you have is the pressure you give yourself.
Winning or losing, hitting your target or missing it, making mistakes or feeling awesome – however your dives were like are not life and death situations. World record holder, Alexey Molchanov, who despite the mantle he carries is always chilled and relax before competitions remembers his mother, Natalia Molchanova, saying this, “Life is important, death is important, birth of the kids is important, but a competition is just a game for adults.” In the Molchanovs Wave 4 Student Manual, he said, ‘if you enjoy it as a game, something to just have fun, being part of the community, and using it as a progression marker, then that will be a good, positive reinforcement of your training.”
4. You will get really good photos and videos from them.
Kohei Ueno, my favourite photographer, took this photo of me, which its black and white version, was a finalist in the Red Bull Illume 2019 for the Lifestyle Category. He explains the photograph:
This shot is an image of a freediver coming up from a competition dive… A rather intense moment where the athlete is awakened from the dark, quiet, lonely depth of space, to the bright, loud, and hectic environment of the surface above. To me, what makes this image even more special is that I’ve watched this athlete grow over the years, overcoming her own fears one step at a time, from when she could barely dive to a few meters down, to now where she’s diving to depth of over 50 meters on one breath of air.
For this video that Mark Cheung, the owner of Apnea 42, created, I told him that it was fine to include “my failures”. I performed rather poorly in this particular competition, obtaining a white, yellow (penalty incurred), and red (disqualified) card. Because I wanted people to know that sometimes competitions are great, but other times they go awry, and that’s okay. 🙂
5. Anyone can take part!
Perhaps the sports is still young and that we do not have sufficient prominence and funding. But right now, anyone can still participate. You can compete side by side with your favourite freediving champion like William Trubridge. And use that chance to enjoy a beach holiday. You just need to pay the competition fee. And there are many competitions to choose from from around the world.
This could be you!
This blog post was adapted from a sharing done at the Annual General Meeting of the Apnea Association of Singapore on the 28th of July 2020. Thank you Paola Seow for the invitation to share my experience!
To read more about my competition experience, check out this article I wrote and this Facebook post.