The British Freediving Association (BFA) has announced that three new UK national freediving records have been set at the annual Vertical Blue international freediving competition held in the Bahamas which ended on 10 May 2017. The records have now been officially confirmed by the international freediving association, AIDA.
Three British freedivers competed at the nine-day competition: Michael Board, Dean Chaouche and Georgina Miller.
Key freediving disciplines in the Vertical Blue competition are: CWT = constant weight – a dive with fins or monofin; CNF = constant no fins – a dive with no fins; and FIM = free immersion – the freediver uses a rope to descend and ascend without fins.
All three athletes performed exceptionally well during the course of the competition, achieving the following final results in their chosen disciplines:
Michael Board: CWT: 108m (new British national record); FIM: 100m (new British national record)
Dean Chaouche: CNF: 80m (new British national record)
Georgina Miller: CWT: 54m CNF: 33m FIM: 44m (placed sixth overall at the competition amongst a strong field)
Michael Board, a former Royal Marine Commando, was the first British man to freedive to 100m in 2013. He owns and runs a freediving school and yoga center in Gili Trawangan, Indonesia called Freedive Gili and Gili Yoga.
With his performance, Dean Chaouche is one of the top 10 deepest divers in the world in the CNF discipline. He is a freediving instructor at Team Vertical Blue in the Bahamas.
Georgina runs Aquacity Freediving in Cornwall and is a six-time UK national freediving record holder.
Commenting on his performance, Michael Board said: “After two years of struggling to find the way to dive deeper, this year seems to be a breakthrough year for me. Vertical Blue was a tough competition this year with so many good deep freedivers from around the world really pushing hard and trying to dive deeper than ever. However, I trained well for this competition. After rupturing my eardrum last year just before the competition started and not being able to compete I was really motivated to come back strong. My training this time focused a lot on being in good physical shape as you would expect, but equally on being mentally prepared with a strong emphasis on meditation.
“I started the competition well on the first day (30 April) with a dive to 104m in the constant weight discipline, which was one meter deeper than my British record of 103m from 2014. However, I got a penalty point for losing the tag on the swim up and so it did not qualify as a new record. This was disappointing but gave me confidence as I had achieved the depth and knew I could dive deeper. On the second day of the competition, fellow British freediver, Dean Chaouche, dived to 98m in Free Immersion (diving by pulling up and down the rope) breaking my own national record in this discipline by one meter. This threw down the gauntlet and I knew I would have to try and dive deeper to regain it later in the competition.
“On 4 May, Day 4 of the competition, I did a dive to 106m in constant weight in a dive time of just 2’59. This bettered my last British record which was a dive to 103m in December 2014.
“After the success of this dive I decided to have a crack at taking back the British free immersion record on Day 5. So on 5 May, I did a dive to 100m, adding two meters on the record set by Dean Chaouche just 5 days before on Day 1.
“Finally, on Day 9 of the competition, the last day, I decided to try for an even bigger dive in constant weight and dived to 108m, also in 2’59, adding a further two meters to the British record I had set a few days before. This also put me in the third place position with a bronze medal in the constant weight discipline – my first podium finish after five years of competing at Vertical Blue!”
Michael Board and Dean Chaouche will be competing again as part of the mixed, six-strong UK freediving team at the AIDA Freediving World Championships in Roatán, Honduras. This competition will take place from 22 August to 2 September 2017.
Find out more about British Freediving at www.britishfreediv
Photos: Daan Verhoeven