On September 3rd 2013 William completed an amazing world record dive to 145m in a category called variable weight. I was honoured to be one of the safety divers at this event and got a first hand experience of all that goes on.
The safety team consisted of Andrea Zuccari at 50-60m on scooter, 3 technical divers along the line all the way to the bottom and fellow Canadian Natalie Doduc and myself at 20 and 25 meters.
Natalie and I have dove together several times before and Andrea is extremely experienced and professional, which made it easy during the dive preparations. Everyone knew their tasks which meant we didn’t have to communicate very much and could keep the performance area as calm as possible for William.
All that said it can’t be helped that the setting is busy. There is a doctor and medical staff, platform organizer, photographers, technical divers, safety divers, judges and spectators.
It is impressive how William can keep his mental focus with everything going on around him before the dive.
Being a safety is not that hard if everything goes well, as it did on all William’s warm-up dives and the world record itself. It is still very important to always prepare and breathe up, because you need to prepare for the case where the dive goes wrong and you might need to dive deeper than planned or stay longer under water. My safety depth was 25 meters and I could expect to wait at the bottom for 10 –30 seconds. In all the safety dives we did with William we never exceeded the planned hang time and never needed to go deeper than planned.
Safetying for a world record does add more alertness, because you know how much training, effort and money goes into an event like this. I came up fairly close to William from 25 meters as I needed to make sure he was ok, but I was very conscious of keeping enough distance so I wouldn’t touch him which would get him disqualified. It was evident all the way up that he was strong and wouldn’t need our help. When we broke the surface William completed the surface protocol very quickly and continued to breathe easily. Another dive where the safeties luckily didn’t need to intervene.
From the picture below it is easy to see the happiness for William and his wife Michèle after the successful record attempt.
The organizational job of Andrea and Sergio from Freediving World was incredible. Normally as a safety diver you are asked to help with lots of things, but for this event everything was so well organized and Sergio handled everything on the platform, while Andrea took care of the sled and everything in the water.
Andrea has been coaching William for a long time helping him with equalization and the results speaks for them selves. It is clear to see that the friendship between them also helped William reach his goal.
I have started the equalization course at Freediving World, with Andrea and will be going back for the second class today.
Below Andrea can be seen holding the sign with William.
As extra safety on this deep dive three tech divers were stationed at various depths along the line with the deepest at the bottom. Below are the three technical divers on a deco stop afterwards. The deepest of the divers Jim Dowling on the left were on a re-breather and was fascinating to talk to about his gear and the decompression needed to come up safely.
What a great event to be a part of and a privilege to witness this first-hand and meet so many skilled people.
Links to other posts about the World Record: