The competition is now over; a successful one for me with a 7th place finish in dynamic without fins and 12th place with fins.
My no fins dive went really quite well in the final, despite nerves. I set a new competition best performance of 175m, coming up pretty close to my limit. I’m happy with my decision to not push any further, risking disqualification and a disappointing end to a good championship. The dive itself went mostly to plan, though reviewing footage of the final length it was clear that I had started to lose control of my dive. That’s something I’ll have to work on in training, but the only way to do that is to push out some really big dives.
The final swim for me was dynamics with fins, held in pretty unpleasant conditions unfortunately. It was always a danger with the outdoor pool that we could suffer at the hands of the weather, so we were perhaps lucky we only had one day that was really bad. I believe the air temperature was 12 degrees when we swam, with rain and wind chilling things further. The pool had dropped to 20 degrees, which is getting pretty chilly without a wetsuit and not exactly ideal for most people. I did my best to stay warm before my dive; getting in the water only a minute before the start. I perhaps wasn’t as relaxed as I’d like to be, but everyone is in the same conditions and that’s just life. The dive was a real struggle, with discomfort starting much earlier than usual due to the cold. A combination of this and my big swim the day before meant my legs burnt out quickly, turning the dive into a real fight. In hindsight, I should have changed from my current fast-paced constant kick swim to a slower kick-glide technique, but to be honest it just didn’t occur to me until too late. In the end, I struggled through to 176m with legs that could barely move me anymore. It was a disappointing result to finish with, but many others struggled too. The A & B men’s finals saw two divers fail to start and four (including the defending champion) pull out of their dives very early. An unfortunate spectacle, but that’s the danger when competing in an outdoor pool.
Yesterday saw the static breath-hold final and the closing ceremony. I coached three athletes through their dives; quietly relieved that my competition was already finished! All fought hard, though for some the strain of the long championships was clear. There was some real relief when it was all over and everyone could celebrate or commiserate together. The competitive freediving scene, as I’ve mentioned before, is small and friendly on the whole. The celebrations afterwards were in great spirits, though I won’t be providing any photographic evidence or stories to protect the innocent and guilty alike. While on the topic of celebrations, I would like to congratulate all our world champions:
Mateusz Malina & Alice Hickson in dynamic without fins
Georgos Panagiotakis & Natalia Molchanova in dynamic with fins
Aleix Segura Vendrell & Natalia Molchanova in static breath-hold
Full results can be found on the official world championships website.
Thanks to the organisers, judges, assistant judges, safety divers and organisational assistants, without whom we have no competition. Thanks again to my sponsors, training buddies, friends and family for their support before, during and after the competition. I truly appreciate what you’ve done and hope that I’ve managed to live up to expectations. Finally, thanks and congratulations to all the divers who competed. It takes commitment and dedication to be here, but I hope it was worthwhile for all of you (even if things didn’t go to plan). The travel day is always a sad one – saying farewell to friends we seldom get to see. I would love to be back next year in Finland, with as many new and familiar faces as always. In the mean time, safe travel and good training for all.
Zbogom from Serbia for the final time,