Adreno recently was among the sponsors of the Australian National Pool Freediving Championships hosted by the Brisbane Freedivers from Friday the 13th of June to Sunday the 15th of June, at the Sleeman Sports Complex (Chandler, Brisbane). The championships was held under the auspices of the Australian Freediving Association (AFA) and the athletes competed in the three pool competition disciplines recognised by an international body of freediving namely static apnea (underwater breath holding), dynamic apnea (underwater swimming with fins for distance), and dynamic no fins (underwater swimming for distance without fins). In addition to the AIDA competition grade (performances listed on international ranking), it was the first Australian competition to have a recreational grade. This division is designed to encourage participation from freedivers who may not feel ready for ranking events.
The competition saw 16 athletes in the AIDA competition grade and 5 athletes in the recreational grade, each had trained hard for this comp and pushed for their personal goals. The competition started off with static apnea (STA) on Friday the 13th, which was won by Jonathan Chong for the male division with 5 mins 46 seconds and Amber Bourke for female with 5mins 22 seconds.
On the second day, Saturday the 14th, athletes competed in the dynamic apnea discipline (DYN). Ant Judge, who had set a new Australian national record in free immersion (a depth discipline where the diver pulls themselves down the rope to collect the tag and then back to the surface) just a week before in a depth competition held in Hawaii, came up clean at 181m to win the first place for men. Lewis Jones, a New Zealand national who managed to put an extra 11 m on his personal best in his first pool competition, won the runner-up place for men with a 176m swim. Amber Bourke, who holds the current women’s national record of 200m in DYN, tried to push her record further by swimming 208m, but unfortunately disqualified for not being able to perform the surface protocol properly after she surfaced. In competitive freediving it is always hard to push hard enough to pull off a best performance, but not to push beyond your limit. Emily Shaw, the winner of the womens’ dynamic apnea discipline with a clean 117m swim said, “Leading into the competition my main goal was to be happy with the effort that I put into each dive as well as to get all white cards. I find it a fine line to push myself to give a good effort without pushing beyond my limits.” Emily achieved her goal by getting white cards (meaning the performance is good and no penalty) for all three disciplines.
In the afternoon of the Day 2, five athletes in the recreational grade made their first attempts to compete in a freediving pool competition. The judges adopted a “loose” version of the formal pool freediving rules for this grade to increase the chance for the athletes to get white cards and gave advice for improvements after each performance. All the athletes performed very well for their first freediving competition with many personal bests. The grade was won by Wybrand du Toit who pulled off an impressive 105m swim in the DYN discipline.
Dynamic no fins (DNF) discipline was held on Day 3, Sunday the 15th, with more personal bests and impressive performances. The two athletes who represented the Sydney Freedivers in this competition won the first and second places for men – Ant Judge did another clean swim of 144m to win the mens DNF and Jack Hatfield got the runner-up position with an easy 130m dive. Amber Bourke managed to come up clean this time at 150m to win the DNF discipline for female.
In addition to many personal bests, four new national records were set during the competition. Jonathan Chong of Singapore and Pejman Siavoshi of Iran both pushed past the previous national records they held in DYN and DNF – new Singaporean national records are now 139m for DYN and 110m for DNF, and new Iranian records are 113m for DYN and 86m for DNF.
At the end of the three-day competition, the Overall Winners were decided based on total points earned and the title of Australian National Pool Freediving Champions were given to the male and female Australian national who earned the most points. The Overall Winners of the competition were Lewis Jones and Emily Shaw, who both pulled off clean performances in all three disciplines of the competition. “I had an amazing time at the nationals and was overjoyed to win the competition over all on points and place 2nd in 2 disciplines. Being my first pool comp I wasn't too sure what to expect from myself but thought I would struggle a bit with nerves. I was very nervous leading g up to my events but once my head was under the water I think I got an extra boost from the adrenaline” said Lewis after winning the overall competition. The Australian athletes with most points were Beau Armstrong and Emily Shaw and they received the title of Australian National Pool Freediving Champions 2014. Beau, who only started training for competitive freediving in the last 6 months said excitedly, “being new to the sport, the highlight of the competition for me was being able to compete against the world-class athletes!”
We would like to thank Adreno for sponsoring this competition and providing a great prize, an Orca TRN freediving wetsuit worth $199. The prize was raffled off to competition grade athletes at the end of the competition and the lucky winner was Ant Judge who won the first place in two of the disciplines. A special thank you to Adreno, one of our major sponsors in this event for providing such a great prize!
Also, an event like this was only possible with the support from everyone involved. As Beau Armstrong said, it was “a great weekend that couldn't have happened without the hard work and support from the organisers, competitors, coaches and the venue alike. It was also fantastic to see the support from the sponsors who provided the prizes and trophies making the event truly world class!”
“As this event was the National Championship it was the most important competition for me to compete in this year so I was really happy to be there. During the second half of this year I plan to do some depth training. In the pool I will also be working hard to improve my fitness and hypoxia tolerance to hopefully increase the distances and times of my dives in the lead up to further competitions next year” said Emily Shaw when she was asked about her next goal. There is going to be a pool competition in Gladstone in mid-October, which will be the next freediving competition in Australia this year. If you are interested in getting started with freediving, come and join the Brisbane Freedivers or other local clubs near you to learn from experienced instructors and fellow divers! More information about freediving in general and local clubs can be found on the AFA’s website.