Vertical Blue 2014
It's that time of year again. Over the last few weeks, 35 of the world's top freedivers, representing 17 nations have been quietly converging on a small island in the Bahamas for the 7th Annual Vertical Blue Competition (visit the official website here). Over 6 days from the 27th November, they'll battle is out on their quest to achieve personal goals, bragging rights, and a share of the $15,000 in Prizes in what's set to be one of the most exciting competitions of recent years. We're a little over a week out from the start of the competition, and it's going to be a big one.
Long Island, population c.3000 seems an unlikely place to draw so many international athletes until you consider that it's the location of Dean's Blue Hole, the world's deepest at 202m (663ft) which plunges straight down off the beach in clear tropical water. Tucked away in a curve of the shoreline and protected by cliffs on 3 sides, it takes a storm of biblical proportions to produce more than a ripple on the surface of the hole and even then, once you get below the surface, it's quiet as a cathedral.
William Trubridge, CNF 102M?
For the men, this year, it's difficult to know where to begin. 15 times World Record holder William Trubridge has already made television and freediving history by announcing a live televised attempt on his own CNF record of 102m "or more" on the 3rd December Eastern Standard Time. Speculation is rife amongst the athletes as to how deep he's already gone in training: Rumours of numbers as huge as 110m are flying around and, although that seems a little unlikely, Trubridge, renowned for his meticulous preparation, seems the last person on earth to announce something this big without a certain amount of confidence. That said, he may come under pressure early in the competition: Constant Weight World Record holder Alexey Molchanov has been turning his attention to no-fins over the last few months and is looking very strong at depths well in excess of 90m. After his 'accidental' 130m CWT dive last year it seems impossible that the Russian won't also have a pop at his own world record as well. New DNF World Record holder Mateusz Malina of Poland, too, clearly has the lungs for some big dives and has already demonstrated his ability to equalise that deep with CWT and FIM performances in excess of 100m. After a long period of pool training, questions will inevitably arise about his adaptation for depth, but stranger things have happened. It's going to be an interesting one to watch. And that isn't all. Spanish sensation Miguel Lozano is quietly making it very clear that he's after William's FIM world record of 123m. In the midst of recent exchanges between Trubridge and Molchanov, racing each other to be the fastest to 60m and back, Lozano posted the profile of a 60m FIM dive lasting an incredible 6 minutes. In a discipline where hypoxia is often the telling factor, that's a massive statement from the Spaniard. Will Trubridge fight to keep the FIM record, or concentrate his efforts on putting CNF out of everyone else's reach for another year? Watch this space to find out!
Record Attempts, Women
For the Women, the late addition of Russian Marianna Krupnitskaya has added an interesting counterpoint to what might have ended up being a competition dominated by the Japanese. Krupnitskaya has been diving well this year, rumour has it she's done 86m in training and may find herself pushing up into the 90s during the competition, dives that would see her well inside the top 10 of all time. Pint-Sized Kiwi Kate Middleton will be looking to capitalise on some strong training and competition dives in FIM this year too. A dive of 75m or more would see her pushing up ahead of the likes of Annalie Pompe and into the top 10. National records are on the cards for a host of other women across the three disciplines including Iru Balic of Venezuela, Tomoko Fukuda of Japan, Estrella Navaro Holme of Mexico and Lena Jovanovic of Serbia, to name just a few. Throughout the competition we'll be giving you updates, results and insights from behind the scenes. Visit www.freedive-earth.com to see what (and who) is going down, or on our Facebook page, twitter @, or GooGle+ Page.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]