With the annual PFI Competition, Deja Blue, only weeks away many competitors are packing up their monofins, wetsuits and fluid goggles in airline-friendly containers and heading to Grand Cayman for the pre-competition training. Some are long-time competitors and some are brand-new. Some come to Cayman with the hopes of bringing home a first-place medal or a national record for their country. Others aren’t really sure what to expect, but hope to dive deeper.
This year I’m particularly excited as there are some really big dives slated to happen during the competition. I thought I’d start off this year’s competition coverage, which will run here on FDB from now until the competition and subsequent Formula3Freediving scooter races end, with an introduction of some of the exciting athletes to watch this year.
Steve comes to Cayman from Wilmington, NC, a location known to have produced such divers as Ashley Chapman, current US Women’s CNF National Record Holder. There must be something special in the water in Wilmington because Steve reached an astonishing static breath-hold time of 7:44 during his intermediate freediver course. That’s five seconds over the current US Men’s National Record currently held by Bill Graham of Kona, HI. We’re all excited to see him make it official this year!
After his first-place win at the Deja Blue 2011 competition PFI Instructor Ted Harty went on to break the US Men’s DYN National Record in Lignano Italy in September with a swim of 170 meters/558 feet in a pool on one breath. In addition to his personal freedive practice Ted spends much of his time training other divers and even fellow Deja Blue athlete, Nick Mevoli. A true competitor, Ted’s been very quiet about his intentions this year but after what we’ve seen of him in the past I’d say to be on the lookout for some impressive performances.
As one of the competition’s longest-running attendees Carol has made a habit of taking home first-place medals from Deja Blue. A well-rounded freediver, she produces consistently top-ranking depths, times and distances. Carol currently holds several Brazilian national records, including the Women’s CWT record of 74 meters/242 feet, but I’m going to venture an educated guess here and say that those records will probably fall to her again this year.
Don’t be fooled by his easy-going demeanor or his claim that he doesn’t really understand how far a meter is. This guy is a badass. After taking the intermediate freediver class in October 2010 Grant went on to break the US Men’s National Record CNF with a dive to 67 meters/220 feet. Considered a freak of nature by some, Grant’s undeniable natural ability and tenacious determination will continue to propel him deeper without fins than any American has gone before.
After breaking three US Women’s CNF National Records at Deja Blue 2011, Ashley found herself at 58 meters/190 feet, four meters shy of the Women’s CNF World Record. She made one attempt at the record on the final day of competition, reached the target depth but blacked out at the surface. Confident that she’d be able to train enough to reach that depth in 2012 Ashley embarked on a year-long sailing trip with her husband, Ren, where she was able to train with freediving greats like William Trubridge in Long Island, Bahamas. There she reached depth of 65 meters/213 feet without fins, unofficially surpassing the current Women’s world record by three meters. With three weeks in Cayman I’m not even sure how far she’ll be able to go.
And as for me?
Well you’ll just have to keep up on the Deja Blue III competition to find out! I’ll be posting updates here as often as possible so stay tuned to watch records fall!