Freediver blacks out during competition following depth measurement error


French freediver Guillaume Nery suffered a black out before reaching the surface at a freediving competition being held in Cyprus earlier today while attempting to break a World Record.

It’s understood that the depth measurement at the event, which is a precursor to the AIDA World Championships, was set 10 metres deeper than the announced depth.

Mr. Nery was assisted to the surface by safety divers, where he was administered oxygen for at least 30 minutes.

It’s said that Mr. Nery has made a full recovery, although some sources have claimed that he may have suffered a lung squeeze (which has yet to be verified).

To break the World Record, Mr. Nery had to reach a depth of 129 metres – a depth that many thought was well within the reach of the freediver, who’s personal best is a depth of 126 metres.

It’s said that his dive computer showed he had reached a depth of 137 metres during the attempt.

AIDA have issued two statements following the incident – one from the organisation’s President, Kimmo Lahtinen, and the other by the competition jury who were present at the time the incident took place.

Mr. Lahtinen’s statement reads as follows:

Guillaume Nery´s world record attempt on 10th of September.

In a pre-competition related to the Aida World Championships there was an incident today; the competition rope was set +10 meter deeper than the announced dive depth. Consequently the experienced athlete had a black out before reaching the surface. Judges in this pre-competition were Ute Gessman, Robert King, and Savvas Savva.

After reading the initial posts about this incident on the France Apnee Facebook wall this morning, I have requested a report from the Aida judges/representatives at the location (Ute Gessman and Robert Kind) as well as from the athlete (Guillaume Nery). I have already received some information from Ute Gessman and from Carla Hanson who was traveling to Cyprus when the incident happened. I am awaiting further information from Robert King and from Guillaume Nery.

After speaking with Ute Gessman on Skype a moment ago about the incident, my conclusions at this point are:

  1. We will ensure that the Aida World Championships competition will be safe. This kind of incident will not happen in the upcoming Aida World Championships. Actioned: I have contacted the head of the Aida World Championships competition Jury president, Jean-Pol Francois, and agreed that he will take care of this most important task. These actions include re-measuring the rope and marking with Aida officials (according to Aida competition rules).
  2. We will investigate what happened in this pre-competition as soon I have received the official reports from the location (organizer, Aida judges involved and the athlete, Guillaume Nery). There may be further action taken as a result of this incident, as soon we have been able to ensure that the safety in the upcoming World Championships competition has taken care of.
  3. We will find a solution to prevent this issue from happening in Aida competitions in the future. Some preliminary thoughts: we need a clear “code / standards” how competition and record attempt ropes will be marked. This will make it possible for the judges and athletes to understand the marks on the rope. We also need to discuss and question if we should use tape to mark the competition ropes.

This information has been posted to the Aida Board, Aida Assembly and on the Aida Facebook wall. If there are any further questions please do not hesitate to ask.

Kimmo Lahtinen, AIDA president

And here is the statement from the competition jury:

From: Jean-Pol François, World Championship Jury President; Robert King, World Championship Jury Vice President; Savvas Savva, World Championship Organizer

Date: 10 September 2015

Regarding: Safety Incident at World Championship Pre-Competition

As many of you know, there was a safety incident this morning at the PreCompetition in Limassol, Cyprus: the competition line was set 10m deeper than the announced depth (which was 129m–a world record attempt). This was a serious error. Fortunately, due to the level of his conditioning, the athlete was not seriously injured. However, he may not dive at the World Championships (which is itself serious).

Two factors contributed to this error. First, the competition line was lowered faster than it should have been, and shallower markings were not correctly noted. Second, the line was stopped with two red tape lines and three white tapelines above the surface (the marking for 129m). However, one piece of white tape had come off: meaning the line was actually set at 139m. In addition, the sonar unit may have failed to track the athlete below 110m. We will work over the next days to ensure athlete safety at the AIDA Depth World Championships:

1) All competition lines have been removed from the water, and will be remeasured and marked with paint or permanent marker (in addition to tape), so that even if a piece of tape comes off, the marking will still be clear. This will be done before training starts on Saturday (there is no training Friday).

2) At the start of each competition day, each line will be lowered into the water with depth gauges to confirm that markings match depths. Lines will be lowered slowly enough that intermediate markings can be noted (each 10m).

3) On each competition day, there will be a starter on each line. This will allow the depth to be checked before the first athlete, and the line lowered slowly to the first competitor’s depth.

4) We will work with the sonar unit to ensure either than it can track athletes to 130m, or get another sonar unit that can. Athletes and coaches should feel free to contact any of us with any questions you may have.

Jean-Pol Francois

We will bring you more on this story as it comes in.


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