Sunday, 27 July 2014

Go coach!!!

Just when I was getting bored and restless with the endless routine of wake up, look out the window to check sea conditions, have tea, check sea conditions, strech, check sea conditions, have coffee, check sea conditions, do dry skills, check sea conditions - still rough - curse sea conditions, do some pool stuff, curse sea conditions, oh wait, sea conditions are ok! Go train! - my favorite and (mostly) always patient evil coach has gone and provided us with a much needed bit of action.


He's been training alongside us, meaning he fits in a deep dive after he's been looking after Will and me for a couple of hours, which serves beautifully to highlight our continuing failure to get things right. Nothing like someone hopping on the sled and whizzing down to 160m when you have just hit the brake at 105 to show you what room for improvement truly means.

On Friday it was time for him to be serious and break his own Italian no limits record, with a dive that would make him the second deepest man in the world. I went to meet him for a coffee in the morning, to enjoy the fact that evil coach was churning with nerves - he's just as bad as I am with that - then we all went to look at (and curse) sea conditions for a while. The dive center was buzzing with equipment and crew, all designed to make evil coach even more nervous, especially when it came to handling his babies - there were 12 cameras involved in filming this dive with some stunning footage taken! Watch this space for the video to come.


After sorting out some emergency protocols and making sure we had a back up plan for everything it was time to leave coach to his nerves and get in the water. William and I were the freediving safety team for this event, official "safety diver" lycra and all!  This kind of dive requires a well organized and especially well focused team as you cannot afford any type of mess. I put the second line down to 110m to help technical safety diver Jim with his deco later - he was waiting in 150m and filmed some spectacular images, bar the moment where he tilts the camera to look at his rebreather gauges because his 200m depth rated torch imploded! Something going "BANG" is not what you want to hear when you are down there, I tell you.

With the judges in the water and cameras rolling, coach was ready and we gave Jim the five minute signal to start his descent. Everything switches to "go" and things go quiet except for Sergio counting down. Everyone is focused on the moment when the sled is released and drops under the surface. From then on, we are counting the seconds till touch down - he landed after 75seconds and we knew he had made it. Still, this is not the time to celebrate but to get ready - after all, getting down is only half the dive. William went first to meet coach with the scooter, with me following closely behind - waiting for him near the line it took a moment for the bubbles to clear before I could see him. As usual, he was fresh as a daisy and completely unfazed. Surface protocol in six seconds. He did that dive with a mask which is simply spectacular!


Last person out of the water that day was deep technical safety diver Jim, who finished his deco after a total dive time of 02:58hours. Deco is boring as hell, but I have to say, I still miss that kind of diving! It was great to take a brake from the training routine to be safety crew for the day. Looking after others is an essential part of what we do. Without it, you are missing half of what it means to be a freediver. Keep your skills up to date and take care of your buddies!

In the meantime: way to go, coach! Now it's back to training. Had better go and check the sea conditions...

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