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May 18

How to Break a Freediving World Record

I had a lot of success breaking records last year at the Deja Blue II competition in the Cayman Islands.  In fact, I managed to break the national record in the discipline of CNF three times.  Once to 50 meters, once to 55 meters (a pan-American record) and last to 58 meters.  I exceeded, by far, my original expectations of breaking the current national record by two meters, from 48 to 50.  The last day of the comp I threw a Hail Mary pass and plunged 5 meters deeper, 1 meter past the world record depth, to 63 meters.  I managed to clinch the tag at the bottom plate and return to the surface under my own power, but was unprepared fully for a dive that culminated in a blackout at the surface.

After the competition, I was left with the same feeling as the first Intermediate freediver course I ever took. I was excited and satisfied with my performance but even more excited and curious to ‘explore my potential’, the mantra of Performance Freediving International.  With three new national records under my belt I left Cayman determined to return next year with a new goal, the world record.  Ren, sharing my sense of dedication to the world record, helped outline a series of events for the year that ensured my success as a two-time world record holder.  Watch the record videos before reading further.

MOVE ONTO A SAILBOAT
Yep, it’s that easy folks.  If you want a freediving world record all you have to do is sell most of your belongings and store the rest with your parents.  Hopefully you have three sets of parents who have plenty of space to accommodate your junk.  Hopefully they are willing to accommodate your junk.  Hopefully you can sneak half of your stuff by them before they know what’s happening, leaving a tall, teetering stack of boxes that they will make room for later.

By selling your stuff and moving onto a boat you leave your clutter-less life open for new experiences and plenty of time to train.  The maintenance associated with keeping up a sailing vessel becomes part of your training.  Climb the mast, dinghy to shore, hold your breath as a wave washes over the cockpit during heavy weather.  Every moment becomes an opportunity to become a better freediver.

QUIT YOUR JOB
You say you can’t quit your job?  Well, now, that’s bologna.  I did it, so did Ren.  Of course, we don’t have a huge pile of cash buried in our backyard (not to mention, we don’t have a backyard anymore).  We don’t have bills either.  We don’t have the socialization a workplace offers, but we don’t to answer to a boss either.  We don’t have traffic jams to deal with, but…we don’t have traffic jams to deal with!

We make enough money to keep going by teaching freediving courses but will have to include a web-based revenue stream eventually. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.  Make it happen and sort out the details later.  And yes, your parents will get over it!

MARRY A FREEDIVER, OR TURN YOUR PARTNER INTO ONE
I can honestly say that none of this would have happened without Ren.  Especially being isolated on a boat, without a training partner, gym, pool or any other training resources for that matter.  Having someone there who understood the importance of providing motivation, sometimes where there was absolutely none, to sit on the hot, sweaty boat, alone and practice static apnea tables, was huge.  Not only did he make me train when I didn’t want to, which was pretty often, he also knows first hand what the pain of freediving can be like…and he offered little sympathy.  When I wanted to quit my apnea tables he did not look at my contractions and say, “Oh no honey!  Stop that!  You’ll hurt yourself!”  Nope, not Ren.  He provided me with encouragement like, “Control yourself damn it!  Why are you letting the contractions beat you up like that!  Come on, hold onto it for 5-4-3-2-1!”  Then I was allowed to gasp for air.

The training was hard but finding the inspiration to train was the hardest.  Everyone around me were drinking frozen cocktails, staying out late and lazily moving through the islands on their boats.  I had to decline the cocktails, get to bed on time and get up, dinghy over to land and run during the aerobic training phase of preparation.  Or get up early before a passage and jump off the back of the boat to do negative dives.  Or excuse myself from a social evening to slip away and do my last set of stretches for the night.  No easy task for someone who understand the value of a good time…if ya know what I mean.

The underlying message, the impossible becomes much more possible with a little inspiration and a lot of sacrifice.  Dive confidently in the direction of your dreams…

3 comments

  1. Nathan

    Congratulations Ashley. Great blog. I really like the part about not working, Awesome!!!!

  2. AshleyChapman

    Not working is my favorite part of training too Nathan :)

  3. Wes Lapp

    Thanks Ashley – Was awesome diving with you and reading your words just now. Diving back into my “real” life has been a tougher challenge then setting a national record and that’s OK. Diving into our lives, deeper and deeper, finding meaning and expression is what its all about – Cheers Wes Lapp

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