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2009 Freediving AIDA WC – Evolution of the Mask Tan

This post have been “stolen” from Roberta and Matt’s blog:

Mask Tan” is a hazard that most freedivers face. Spending so much time on the surface, we are exposed to a lot of sunlight: however, only select parts of our bodies are exposed, so some weird tanlines result. The most common pattern is that of the eyes cheeks staying pale where they are covered by the face mask, while the rest of the face achieves a deep tan.

So, being the competitive guys that we are, a mask tan competition has developed. I submit photographic documentation of the first week of the contest:


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Amazing Spearfishish

 William Winram and Herbert Nitsch were nice enough to lend us their spear fishing gear, so we could go out and have some fun. We have now gone spear fishing twice so far and both trips have brought home dinner.

Yesterday we went out spear fishing after saftying the women’s constant weight competition. We were joined by the German freediver Heidi and her husband Mark. We started out from the beach, which is across the street from our house, and swam out to find something to catch. 

Martin on the beach before spear fishing

Oxana on the beach

We hadn’t been swimming for to long before spotting the eagle ray shown in the video below.


After about 45 minutes I saw Martin go down and shot his spear into a small hole in the coral. When I dove down I could see the antennas from the large lobster he just shot. I went into our floating bucket to get the glow we brought so I could help him with the spiny catch. When he pulled out the spear and lined up for my camera, the lobster twisted so much that the spear tip twisted off. Martin let go of the lobster and went down for the spear tip, because we borrowed this gear and didn’t want to loose it. You can see this on the video and I am happy to report that we found the tip, and I was able to catch the wounded lobster again by hand and but it into the bucket.


After this catch we saw a small Black tip shark, which came around to see if there were anything it could eat. Unfortunately I ran out of battery and couldn’t film it, but I followed it for quite some time, because sharks are fascinating to watch when they swim.   

We found another reef, were a school of Bermuda Chub (Matt is our resident fish expert) were swimming in and out of the holes in the reef. After waiting for a while at the edge of the reef, one of the fish swam close enough that I could get a good shot. We placed the Chub in the bucket fairly quickly, but some blood did get in the water, and it only took 5 – 10 minutes, before the sharks were back. As soon as they realized that there was nothing to eat, they disappeared again.

Martin had already left and Heidi and I was trying to catch more Bermuda Chub, but they had gotten scared so we started swimming back to shore. On the way back Heidi shot another fish, which got away from her and went into a hole. After going back down, and shooting it again, the sharks were already there and she had to give the fish to the sharks.

Another amazing day of spear fishing. Other things we saw were the Lion fish below, Turtles, baracudas, a few small squid and lots of other fish.


That night we had another great dinner with freshly caught fish and lobster and enjoyed the company of Heidi and Mark.

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Glowing Rope

Something new at this competition is the use of a glow in the dark rope for the competition line. Because the blue hole has only has a 20m opening at the surface light fades quickly beyond 50m. So the glowing rope gives the athelete a point of reference. Even though the rope glows for many hours after being recharged we still pull the line up every 1.5 hours to recharge it on the platform.


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Counter Ballest System

We mentioned earlier that we would talk about other safety systems being used here at the world championship. To explain the counter ballest system we first need to explain that in Freedive depth events an athelete swims down to a preanounced depth. At that depth is what we call a bottom plate. Attached to that bottom plate are tags that the freediver is to retrieve. Under the bottom plate is a 20Kg weight, a light and a bottom camera to record the performance. The rope that attaches to the bottom plate is premeasured while wet and under stress. Markers are placed on the rope so that the rope can easily be moved up and down to the announced depth. In this case the rope runs through two blocks at the surface and off the back of the platform. The rope that is off the oposite side of the platform has a 40Kg weight so that if the rope is released from the clam cleats on the platform the heavy 40Kg weight will sink and will pull the bottom plate to the surface. Because the athelete is attached to the competition line with a 1m lanyard the diver will also be pulled to the surface. The setup here is really nice because a lot of rope is exposed to the surface and during our trial activation 4 people helped the rope run in the direction of the counter ballest significantly increasing it’s speed. Briging a diver to the surface at about 1.5 m/s.

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A Clean Day of Competition

A great day of diving today. All competitors had clean dives but two of them turned early due to equalization trouble. Jana Strain, Canada’s only Female competitor did a 54m CWT (Constant WeighT with fins) dive today. She had anounced 62m but turned early. If Jana reached 62m she would have made it to the final. We look forward to seeing her in the finals in the CNF (Constant weight No Fins) catigory.

Good Luck Jana!

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First day of competition

Today the competition started with women’s CNF (Constant Weight No Fins). CNF means that the freediver swims down to a target depth without fins and return to the surface with whatever weight they took down with then. Usually about 4-6 lbs of lead to help overcome the buoyancy of their wetsuit at the surface.

There were 13 women who dove today to depths between 21 m – 55 meters.

The safety team started at 8am today, setting up the bottom plate and camera system, getting the oxygen and training lines ready. We had a great competition, with no accidents and all competitors returned safely to the beach. A few of the athletes attempted personal bests and there was a few black outs, but all athletes started breathing without needing assistance from the doctor.

At 2pm the competition ended, but the safety team stayed around and dove on the line. We used the weight to pull us down, so we don’t have to use our tired legs. We also pulled down the roped and Aaron and Martin both achieved new depth personal bests.

The day ended with safetying a few of the athletes who came out to train. We did this for a few hours and then back to the house for something to eat before the committee meeting where all the athletes, judges and organizers talk about the day. There were no major complaints or concerns today, so the meeting didn’t take to long. Now back to the house for food and recharge our batteries.

Another great day in Bahamas.



We have posted more pictures on under the Safety Team 2009 sub menu.