Archive for the ‘free diving’ Category


We’re moving to our new domain!!!

July 9, 2009

So exciting, we have finally matured from a blog to a website! I feel so grown-up! Please don’t desert us, follow this link and we’ll continue where we left off…


Your help is needed now – the extreme condition of our oceans

June 18, 2009

You might have noticed something new on our sidebar. SocialVibe has created a way of helping good causes and charities, and we have chosen to support a project that is close to our hearts – the protection of our oceans.

The Surfrider Foundation is a non-profit, grassroots, environmental organisation dedicated to protection and enjoyment of our oceans, waves and beaches. Founded in 1984 by a handful of surfers in Malibu, California, the organisation has grown exponentially.

So you see, surfers are not just beachbums!

Apart from being avid followers of the surfing life, why choose this particular project?

Well, this is something we’ve ranted about before – but did you know that there is a plastic soup in the middle of the Pacific Ocean –  known as the dead zone? Here’s a depressing, but important short video from StrangeDaysAction spelling out a few facts for us:

Marine scientist Captain Charles Moore of the Agalita Marine Research Foundation describes a dead zone, an oceanic desert, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean which he calls: Plastic Soup. This trashbin is a huge – I mean seriously HUGE – deep churning cesspool of plastic bits definitely bigger than the state of Texas, and, some say, even bigger, possibly, than AFRICA ! These plastic bits are ingested daily by marine life. And guess what? Who eats marine life? We do.

Scary stuff hmmm?

Captain Moore has measured 6 pounds of plastic for every 1 pound of plankton. He predicts that, unless we do something, in 30 years there will be 60 pounds of plastic particles for every pound of plankton.

And what eats plankton? Plankton is literally the food of life. It is vitally important in the food chain of all marine life.

And lest you are a bit casual about this topic and shrug your shoulders and say, “well, it’s only the Pacific. It’s not our problem, someone will be able to sort it out in due course…” Don’t be misled – there is a similar cesspool in the Atlantic.

Here’s a photograph from National Geographic of an open-air garbage dump which tarnishes the sapphire coast of Barrow, Alaska. Disgusting, isn’t it.

Photo: Open-air garbage dump along the coast of Barrow, Alaska

And why should we get personally involved? Well, if you windsurf, kitesurf, scuba dive, snorkel, surf, sail, kayak, freedive, deep water solo to name but a few – you should be concerned. It concerns you directly.

This problem is very nearly out of control. We seriously need to do something about it. And we need to do something NOW.

So click on the sidebar please!

Thank you.

And I’ll leave you on an equally miserable note. Here’s a video from seareport01 on the problem in the Pacific…

So come on guys, let’s do our bit to save our oceans…


There’s another world championship freediving competition coming up- this time it’s indoors

June 4, 2009

Denmark will be hosting the next big  freediving competition in August. It is worth remembering that this is an extreme sport on the fringe of mainstream sports, but with dedicated participants and supporters.

A really dedicated following because there is minimal sponsorship and divers do not recieve any funding. This means every dive, every competition is funded by their own hard work, dedication and love of the sport.

The indoor freediving world championships will be held in the town of Aarhus in Denmark from the 17th – 22nd August.

That means freedivers will be working their butts off (excuse the expression) to get there.


AIDA Germany has announced the following people as the official German Team:

  • Women: Barbara Jeschke, Ilka Michaelis, Anna v. Boetticher and Olga Martinez-Alvarez
  • Men: Martin Legat, Ulli Wulf and Sergio Martinez-Alvare

AIDA Canada is also on their way for selecting the pool championship team. It’s still small and has open spots:

Women: Jana Strain, Mandy-Rae Krack
Men: William Winram

Team New Zealand held a competition in mid-May to see who would be chosen to represent the country at the upcoming indoor world champs – they are still waiting on the selection to be confirmed, but in the meantime have come up with a novel idea to raise funds to help with the costs, and for $250.00 you can be the proud owner of this:


A swimming cap signed by 4 of the world’s top freedivers:

William Trubridge
William has broken freediving world records 7 times. His 2008 no 1 world rankings were in Constant weight without fins with -86m and Free Immersion with -108m, both of which were world records. On 10th April 2009 he did it again  bettering his own mark in the discipline CNF (Constant Weight No Fins) with a dive to 88 meters (288 feet) in 3’30”.

Dave Mullins
Dave has broken 4 freediving world records and set a spearfishing world record with biggest marlin. Last year he ranked world no 1 in dynamics without fins with 213m and constant weight with -108m. He also was 2nd in dynamics with his world record dive of 248m and 3rd in static apnea with a breath hold time of 8 minutes, 11s.

Kathryn McPhee
Kathryn set her first world record and was ranked 1st woman in 2008 in dynamics without fins with 151m. She also ranked no 2 in dynamics with 179m and statics with a breath hold time of 7 minutes 1s.

Guy Brew
Guy has the second biggest breath hold time ever in competition. He topped the 2008 world rankings with a huge static apnea of 8 minutes 31s.

There is an added incentive to winning the auction (ie: paying over $250). If you, too, would like to learn how to freedive and live anywhere in the vicinity of Wellington or could get to Denmark over those dates in August,  Kathryn McPhee will throw in a free one hour coaching session to suit your level.

Closes: Sat 6 Jun, 7:34 pm. This auction may auto-extend.

Please read the questions and answers for this auction.


Oceanhunter Deep Obsession Freediving Competition in New Zealand

November 21, 2008

The Oceanhunter Deep Obsession competition has just been completed in New Zealand – the competition was held over two days last weekend in Auckland.

The various disciplines in freediving might be a bit confusing to some of us, so I have listed them clearly below for clarification purposes:

Static Apnea (STA)
breath hold time in the pool
Dynamic Apnea (DYN)
distance swum in pool on a single breath, usually in a monofin
Dynamic without fins (DNF)
distance swum in pool on a single breath without the use of fins
Constant weight (CW)
depth dived to and returned from on a single breath, usually in a monofin, the diver follows a rope but can not pull on it except for at the turn and must return to the surface with the same equipment they left with
Constant weight without fins (CNF)
as above but without the use of fins
Free Immersion (FIM)
depth dived without fins but the diver may pull on the rope
Variable Weight (VAR)
non-competition event where the diver goes as deep as possible but may drop weight at the bottom for an easier descent and ascent
No Limits
non-competition event where the diver rides a sled as deep as they can and then fills an air bag to ride back to the surface as seen on the film “The Big Blue”.

Day one was the pool based event and Day Two, Sunday, was the constant weight with or without fins.

The pool event was in the 33m long, shallow Panmure pool in Auckland and the deep dive events were held at Lake Pupuke on Auckland’s north shore. There was a 50m limit to the lake dive as Pupuke was very cold, windy, and dark as, unfortunately, it was an overcast day and there had been a bit of rain, so the visibility was down to about 1-2m, and no-one was quite sure what the divers might get stuck in if they went much deeper.

Guy Brew performed an amazing 8 min 31sec static dive in Panmure pool to claim his New Zealand record back off fellow seal Dave Mullins – the only freediving club in New Zealand is called The Lazy Seal Club! This remarkable dive was the longest competition static performed in 2008 anywhere in the world. It also makes Guy only the third person to break the 8:30 mark in competition, behind Tom Sietas and Stig Aavall Severinsen.

Kathryn McPhee topped things off with a 7 min 01sec static, just two seconds short of the number one ranking for 2008. “The static was just one of those amazingly beautiful relaxed dives that really reminds me why I love freediving so much”, she said.

The top-ranked dive of the year remains Natalia Molchanova’s 7:03. Natalia currently holds every competitive world record, excepting Kathryn’s own Dynamic with No Fins record.

Kerian Hibbs, my source who keeps me up to date with freediving news and to whom I owe a debt of gratitude, sadly did not beat his own personal Dynamic’s best, although he came second overall in the  constant weight component on Sunday. He is determined to beat his 201m Dynamic Apnea record in 2009.

Congratulations to you all.


The art of conquering FEAR

November 14, 2008

As you may well know, I have done several articles on Joy Hibbs. Joy conquered her fear of water to become a freediver. Her husband, Kerian, is a freediver and was very instrumental in helping Joy work through her fear.   Anyone who has had a situation like this knows that to have someone to help you is fantastic – but that really, the courage to conquer fear comes from within you.

Having come so far, Joy posted this comment the other day and I feel it is worth putting in as an article otherwise many people out there won’t see it… and it is worth reading.

“I thought I would let you know what happened in the pool this week! Kerian and I were at the “deep end” of the pool. I am still not entirely comfortable in this end of the pool – the shallowest end is 1.5m and it drops to 3.5m at the other end. we usually train in the shallow end which starts at 1.1m and drops to 1.5m We had been at the pool for around and hour, and were just wrapping up, I headed off to the end of the pool underwater, and one goggle started to fill up with water – this was fine, I’m getting used to this happening, and I just closed that eye and carried on. Then – as I hit the dive well ( where it drops to 3.5m ) I descended down a bit, just as the other goggle filled up with water – my reaction, was to close my eye – that meant both of them were closed, and I was well under the surface. I started to panic, was “doggy paddling” to the surface, it was only a couple of metres to the surface, but it felt like I was never going to get there. By time I did hit the surface I was disorientated, very very shaken, and really upset, I ripped my goggles off and noseclip and was ready to fling myself up out of the water, when Kerian, who had see everything unravel said to me, “its ok just breathe” – I hung on to the side of the pool, replayed what had happened, and kept telling myself ” I wont let this affect my freediving!!” After I had calmed down, Kerian took me down a couple of metres, and I practiced coming to the surface with my eyes closed, just to re-assure myself that I was ok the whole time. The following day we arrived at the pool, the usual routine unfolded, get the fin on, slide into the water, put goggles on, noseclip, and my ritualistic dunking of my face – but this time, as I bent over to put my face in the water, I stopped, just shy of the water. I stood back up and thought ” that was weird” went to do it again, and same thing, I couldn’t put my face in the water – I wanted to, but something in the back of my brain was not going to make it easy. I stood back up, splashed water on my face, took a few deep slow breaths, then started to blow out as I put my face back in. This has been one technique that I used at the start. By breathing out, you don’t have the feeling of being tense, and its also something we do instinctively when you relax.
One thing about fear, is that sometimes, like mine, it can be an irrational fear – if you can recognise that and put things in place to ensure that any irrationality that comes up can be dealt with, you will find it easier to face that fear.”

For people who have never experienced that sort of fear … what Joy is going through must be hard to understand. I know nothing of the level she is experiencing, but I have to admit to a ridiculous fear of bugs, beetles and frogs. A complete paranoia. Totally irrational I know – and, even more embarressing, I was born in Africa. How could I POSSIBLY be scared of bugs and beetles? But I am. And I cannot control it. So I admire Joy tremendously for challenging her fear. I skirt around mine.


Free Diving again…

October 24, 2008

I hope you have read the wonderful story of how Joy overcame her fear of water and fairly swiftly became a free diver. If not scroll on down – it is just below these photographs. I thought I’d post these photographs to show you that there’s no bull**** in the article – these photographs speak for themselves.



And another just confirming complete contentment:

So… who says you can’t conquer your deepest fears?!

“For me free diving is an inspiration to challenge everything.  I challenged my fear of water, and found a great passion. Free diving is great for reducing my stress levels, a great way to keep fit and tone all the right bits of your body and its a very special time that I can spend with my husband, developing each others techniques and encouraging each other to do better.” Joy.


Read how Kerian Hibbs’ wife overcame her fear of water and became a free diver

October 23, 2008

This is an incredible story of how one woman overcame her terror of water and found peace free-diving. Thank you Joy for sharing this inspirational tale with xtremesport4u.

I claim I was dragged into the sport of free diving kicking and screaming, while that is a bit dramatic it is not too far from the truth.

I developed a fear of water in 1994, after being involved with a body recovery.  I was a member of the local fire service recovering the body of an experienced Scuba Diver, this wasn’t the first body recovery I had been involved in, but it was the one that would change the way I viewed water for a very very long time.

Since that time I never got into the water, sure I would dip my toes in it at the beach, and I would get into the swimming pool with the kids, but I had no interest in going under the surface at all, not even putting my face in the water,  all for fear of never coming back.

2 years ago, after being exposed to free diving as part of a TV show he was on, my husband announced, with much enthusiasm “I’m going to get into free diving” .  I shuddered at the thought, and was secretly hoping that this “phase” would soon be over.  He would come home from training all a buzz about what he had achieved and I could quickly see that he had a passion for the sport, that wasn’t going to go away quickly.  With an open mind I went along with him to his weekly training session to  see what all the fuss was about, unfortunately, just to hammer home my fear, the first free dive I saw (dynamic no fins) ended in a horrific blackout – another reason for me to stay clear, of the sport.

Kerian is a very accomplished free diver in his own right, after 2 short years in the sport, he holds one national record (its hard to hold a national record in New Zealand, because four of our national records are also world records!), has become the 10th person in world history to swim more than 200m underwater (dynamic) on one breath of air, and is well respected in both the local and international free diving community.

He has done this largely on his own, the most support I could give him was standing on the side of the pool, telling him what I thought looked wrong with his dives and announcing his dive times, although there were times where I just couldn’t face looking into the water.  There was one day where it was all just too much and I had a panic attack – what brought it on…….the realization that I might have to jump into the water one day if he had ever pushed too hard.

When he swam his 201m DYN in comp Sept 2007, I was so proud, so excited, but also jealous of the fact that he had something that I couldn’t even begin to understand, because of this fear I had.  With Kerians encouragement I started to take swimming lessons, the hardest thing for me that first day was to swim along with a kick board, and put my face in the water, I KNEW I could do it, I KNEW I was physically able to do this one small thing, and that it was just my irrational fear of doing it that was stopping me.  My swim coach was amazing, over about 5 weeks, we slowly got into it, slowly managed to build up a length of the 25m pool swimming along with the kick board, leaning to breathe.

After 12 weeks the swimming term came to an end, the best I could do was 25m of a style which is symbolic of a turtle trying to do breast stroke.  I knew what to do, but the fear was preventing me from putting all the bits together.

February 2008 came with a huge opportunity, Kerian had been invited to compete in an invitational only freediving competition, at Deans Blue Hole in the Bahamas, and I was asked to be medic for the event. There was no way we were going to let this opportunity pass us by.

Through all the excitement and planning I started to prepare myself for having to enter the water, water that was over 200m deep.  I visualized feeling the warm water around me, visualized being happy and not anxious in the water, visualized swimming out to the pontoon in the middle of Deans Blue hole where the competition would take place.

I had one huge barrier to overcome before heading off to the Bahamas , That was to face my fear head on. I had been asked to medic a New Zealand Event, the event was a constant weight event and was being held in the exact same body of water I had developed my fear in. I had to be out there in that water.  Day one was ok, I could be on a boat, it was big, not rocky so as long as I wasn’t too close to the edge, I was perfectly fine.  I knew that if any emergency did require me to spring into action, I would cope fine as I would be focused on the task at hand, not the surrounding water.  The second day however, due to the conditions being a bit rougher than day one, and concerns for one of the divers, It made sense for me to be in the water.  Looking like a marshmallow – in a wetsuit and life vest, I got onto a small platform, about 1.5m square, and got on with the job at hand.  I ended the comp feeling that the monster had gotten smaller, I was shit scared, but it was manageable, the next step was to prepare myself for the Vertical Blue competition, with my small but new found confidence.

The Vertical blue comp was the pivotal point, and the start of what I will term as “my free diving career”   Standing at the side of Deans Blue hole, which is absolutely stunning with soft pure white sand, and the most mesmerizing blue water, I slowly and very surely made my way into the water.  I had 2 options – walk out into the bay, where the water was only waist deep for probably 75m, or get straight into the hole, which is approx 25m in diameter and 200+m deep. I decided to jump in boots and all.  With the confidence I had with the floatation of the wetsuit that I found at the last competition, I made my way out to the platform.  Once I stood on that platform and saw the most mind blowing sights of the blue hole, I started to understand what I had been missing.  3 or 4 days into the competition , after seeing some amazing performances by the worlds top free divers, I asked a good friend and Free diving instructor Fran Rose to show me how to “breathe up” I had made the decision to “ learn to breathe, learn to duck dive, and swim down 2m.  I then asked Kerian to show me how to duck dive, and asked him to go down the line to -2m and I would give it a go.

I was terrified, but I coached myself into ignoring the terror I was feeling, and convinced myself that if anything was going to happen 2m under the surface, I would be saved by my hero anyway!

What I didn’t realise is with this tiny -2m dive I would find an inner peace and tranquility that would change my life in so many ways, it also encouraged me to try to beat the fear.

The next day when the competition was over, I tried again, one more metre, then again the following day, one more metre, and on the final  day of competition, after witnessing 4 world records and 23 National records changing hands by bringing a tag up from the bottom plate, and having extended my own PB to -5m,  I said to Kerian “ ok take a tag down to 10m – I’m coming down to get it” I didn’t quite make -10m, but lucky for me, my tag swum up a few metres to meet me, I came to the surface, completed my safety protocol just like a pro would, showed my tag to the Judge to roar and cheering of some very accomplished international freedivers.

The following day, as a good bye to Deans Blue hole, a group of us went down before catching our flights, for one last visit, I got in, no wetsuit, and swam the diameter – not perfectly, but certainly a lot more gracefully than what my swimming coach had previously had to endure.

While a PB in constant weight of -6m is nothing to write home about for most freedivers, for me – it is 6 meters of potential pure fear and horror, that have turned into 6 months of the most amazing, spiritual, physical and mental development journey that I have been on.  Since returning back from the Bahamas I decided to give dynamic apnea and static apnea a go – and I love it.

Kerian and I train every day at lunch time together, we critique each others styles, we coach each other through the tough bits, we safety each other in the pool.  I am no longer scared of having to get underwater, in fact Kerian and I practice rescuing each other from the bottom of the pool on a regular basis – its great fun!

For me free diving is an inspiration to challenge everything.  I challenged my fear of water, and found a great passion. Free diving is great for reducing my stress levels, a great way to keep fit and tone all the right bits of your body and its a very special time that I can spend with my husband, developing each others techniques and encouraging each other to do better.

What it has taught me, apart from how to hold my breath and move through the water effortlessly is to accept fear and find a way to work through it – one of the fears I had, with free diving was having my feet effectively strapped together in a monofin, I accepted that fear and worked with Kerian to take on that fear safely.

Free diving is considered an extreme sport, there are many varying perceptions about how unsafe it is, and how people have ongoing side effects from partaking in this sport.  Free diving is safe if practiced safely, there are risks but the sport is heavily regulated with very strict safety protocols.  There have been very few deaths from free diving, in fact there are less deaths as a result of Free diving ( not including spear fishing!) than there have been men walk on the moon, in all of history!.

So – where to for me now, with a PB of 58m – (3 months ago my goal was 25m!) and a daily training regime that includes multiple 50m dynamics, I want to push that comfort zone out. I never had any desire to enter a competition, but now, I would like to record my progress officially– you never know I might just make it onto an AIDA rankings list, my PB would put me 66th on the current world rankings, I would like to enter it in the top 50