re-sized bahamas

Vertical Blue ‘09 competition in the Bahamas

We have written about Freediving many times and mused on whether this is an extreme sport or not. Luckily for us, it is a very hospitable and friendly community and we have been ‘educated’ about the how’s and why’s of the sport by various freedivers.

Therefore, I think it is safe to say that freediving is certainly ‘extreme’, but important to make clear that freedivers are not stupid and are not trying to drive themselves beyond the point of no return, but are sportsmen (and women) who fully understand the dangerous environment they are challenging, and who respond carefully to the situation.

Having said all that, you might like to know that from April 1-11, 2009 Vertical Blue will once again hold its annual invitation only Freediving competition in Dean’s Blue Hole, Long Island, Bahamas.

The event will host the biggest names in the sport, with world champions and world record holders competing to test the limits of the human capacity for depth on a single breath.

Dean’s Blue Hole is the deepest blue hole in the world, at 203 meters (660 feet), and the 21 invited athletes will be descending to over half that distance in their attempt to be crowned world’s deepest man/woman. They will begin arriving mid-March to acclimatize and start their training.

Dean's Blue Hole, home of the Vertical Blue freediving competition, in the Bahamas
Dean’s Blue Hole

photo courtesy of William Trubridge

The 2008 edition of Vertical Blue was heralded as “the most successful freediving event” with 5 new world records and 23 national records being broken.

In 2009 athletes will once again compete in three disciplines:

  • Constant Weight: the diver descends and ascends with fins or a monofin. The current world records are 113m (370ft) for men and 95m (311ft) for women
  • Unassisted: the diver cannot use any fins or propulsion equipment of any kind, and descends and ascends with a kind of adapted breaststroke. The current world records are 86m (282ft) for men and 60m (196ft) for women.
  • Free Immersion: the diver uses the rope to pull themselves down and up. Current world records are 108m (354ft) for men and 85m (279ft) for women.

Some of the athletes who will compete this year include:

Herbert Nitsch: 23 world records in freediving, “greatest freediver ever”
William Trubridge: current world record holder in unassisted and free immersion.
Sara Campbell: set world records in all 3 disciplines over 3 days in 2007. Her records have since been broken, and she is in training to get them back.
Ryuzo Shinomuya: Japanese freediving champion
Robert King: US freediving champion
Jana Strain: Canadian freediving champion

Watch this space as I will shortly be putting out an article on competitor profiles …

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