Category: Education

October Board Notes

The Board notesThe Aida International board met via Skype call on 14 October. An urgent matter that needed to be reviewed regarded the document sent to the Board with the findings of the Disciplinary Committee of the incident with the World record attempt of Guillaume Nery in Cyprus. The Board voted to approved the recommendations from the DC. Robert King declined to accept the offer to return to the vice-president office. The position will be added to the December elections for a one year term beginning 2016  January.

The Board voted to approve to share the costs of the damaged/lost cameras housings from the Cyprus World Championships. In relation to camera housings; Dan Burton has agreed to produce a state of the art housing for bottom cameras which includes space for a long-life battery. Aida International will provide these housings to organizers at a discounted price of € 150. Please contact Carla Hanson, Secretary,  for more information.

The Board discussed an on-going issue with a judge regarding occurrences with the past Board. Kimmo Lahtinen, President, agreed to contact this judge and attempt to come to a resolution.

Antero Joki, Technical Officer, reported that he will attend the EUF (European Underwater Fed) in Vienna to represent Aida International. Aida International strives to elevate the sport of freediving in the global sports community and communicate on behalf of our athletes. Antero also said that the new rules updates are almost ready to be approved and that he will add the new recommendations included in the DC recommendations.

Vedran Milat, Treasurer ,was not able to attend due to a work conflict but the 2016 budget and audit report will be presented at the next Board meeting.

Carla distributed the proposal for the 2016 Team World Championships submitted by Stavros Kastrinakis. The Board will review the proposal then send it to the Assembly for approval.

The Board agreed to review a document provided by Aida Education committee member, Oli Christen. This document is in regards to the launch of the new Padi freediving education program. It will be sent to all Aida Instructors.

Kimmo and Carla presented the Board with a plan to initiate the enforcement of a Code of Conduct for all Aida communications. Kimmo will draft the document which will be posted on the Aida website, Facebook, and Aida Yahoo groups. It is hoped that all freedivers will be willing to comply with the guidelines in this document in order to provide a more productive environment for communication.

Following a spate of comments from the Yahoo judge group; Carla suggested a Facebook Judges only group be formed to enable discussion of pertinent judge topics. Several judges agreed to manage the task and the group can be found here:

Please feel free to contact any Board member with questions or comments about any of these or other topics.

We will be glad to address any queries or suggestions.
AIDA Board 2015




Aida Board Notes 27 September 2015

The Board met via Skype call to discuss several items of immediate importance.

It was noted by Kimmo that the incident (Nery WR attempt) that occurred during the pre-comp in Cyprus has been referred to the Disciplinary Committee. The DC has the ability to gather information, assess obtained information, and make recommendations without concern of being influenced by outside parties. See note from Kimmo (Aida President) below regarding the DC process.

The next item discussed was regarding the Team World Championships. Carla (Secretary) will contact organizers who have expressed an interest in hosting the competition and inquire as to the status of bids and offer assistance to compose proposals.

Vedran (Treasurer) will finalize a preliminary budget proposal for 2016 this week. The budget will be presented to the Assembly and finalized by 1 December. Vedran asked Board members for budget items related to their office and suggestions for funds needed for 2016 projects.

It was noted that candidates for the following Board positions (2016-18) should submit their declaration and CV to Carla by 30 October:

  • President
  • Technical Officer
  • Education Officer
  • Vice-President (following resignation of Robert King) one year term 2016-17

Carla will publicize the need for members to volunteer and run for office. The request will also be sent to the Assembly list.

The concerns and suggestions from members who attended the General Meeting in Cyprus have been noted. Many excellent ideas were presented and these will be implemented in projects in 2016. Suggestions for rules amendments have been sent to the technical office to be added to the rules update process.

The Board discussed priorities for 2016 which included:

  • Development of an on-line judge CE/renewal course. Standardizing the basic judge course to establish consistency. Addressing issues and inadequacies in the current judge system.
  • Refreshing and stabilizing the Aida International website
  • Continuing update and enhancement of rules
  • Budget for hiring a professional public relations and marketing firm
  • Establishing a work group to improve competition procedures and organization on all levels from national competitions up to and including World Championships.

Message from the President regarding the DC:

Aida DC has started to investigate what happened in Limassol Aida World championships pre-competition. They started this process from my request. The process basically has 3 steps:

  1. collecting the information and trying to learn what happened (investigation)
  2. then conclusions based on the collected information and finally
  3. the recommendation for the Board for possible actions.

For the investigation period the DC has recommended that the judges involved with the incident in Limassol, will be suspended from the Aida judge role (Ute Gessman, Robert King and Savvas Savva). Investigation may take about 2 weeks in accordance with the Disciplinary Commission guidelines:

“6. Timelines
Within 7 days after application of the case, the DC will confirm the  receipt of the mail and inform the sender which body will be handling  the specific case. Within 15 days after application of the case, the DC will decide which  level of action will be taken (see article 4) and decide and communicate  the expected timelines that will be taken into account.)”

Aida Board confirmed this suspension in the meeting that was held today and we will inform Aida Assembly about this process and also the purpose of the process: we need to learn something from this incident and improve as an organization so that this kind of incident will not happen again!

Disciplinary commission work is lead by DC secretary Katya Romanova in co-operations with the former DC secretary Claude Chapuis.

Best regards,

Kimmo Lahtinen, AIDA president


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – The Worlds Most Accomplished and Famous Female Freediver, Natalia Molchanova, is Missing.


Photo: DeeDee Flores

Formentera, Spain. Natalia Molchanova was recreationally freediving off the coast of Spain on August 2, 2015 when she was separated from her peers. She was diving without fins to around 30 to 40 m and supposable got into strong underwater current. Search efforts have been ongoing during daylight hours and the next day since she was reported missing by three peers. She disappeared while diving approximately two miles northwest of the port of La Savina at Poniente de es Freus.

Natalia Molchanova is the most decorated competitive freediver in the world, holding 41 World Records and is a 23 time World Champion in Freediving. Natalia trained hard for her sport, she had a nine minute breath hold, could dive to a depth of 101m using a fin and swim a distance of 234m with a fin. Along with being one of the top athletes in the world she has a PhD in Pedagogical Science and has authored multiple scientific articles and two freediving training handbooks. She is the creator and current president of the Freediving Federation of Russia. She designed and taught freediving programs all over the world. She is based out of Moscow and has created one of the most vibrant recreational freediving communities in the world. Natalia has trained thousands of people to freedive in locations worldwide.

Natalia is a proud mother of Oksana and Alexey. She loved children and was awaiting the day when she would become a Grandmother. She was an inspiration to all freedivers and despite being one of the fiercest competitors in the world, she was always calm and relaxed during competitions. She said “birth and death are important, but freediving competitions are just games for adults”. The cause of Natalia’s disappearance is unknown, but she was doing what she loved. Natalia has a passion for freediving that burned so deep inside of her that she dedicated her life to it.

Contact: Galina Zveryaeva ( –


December Board Meeting Notes

The Board reviewed AIDA’s financial status, as presented by Kimmo and Ben. The Board discussed information from AIDA’s accountants regarding transfers of funds by Sebastian Nagel to an account in Netherlands (during years 2007-2010). AIDA’s accountants are currently reviewing information they have received from the person with access to those funds, to determine if they were used for AIDA purposes.

As previously noted, AIDA received its first repayment from Swiss authorities of the funds embezzled by former Treasurer Sebastian Nagel. This week we received notice of a second transfer.

Kimmo reported on results of the annual AIDA Officer & Budget vote, noting that Carla, Ute and Rob were re-elected, that Vedran Milat was elected Treasurer, that the 2015 budget was approved, and that the annual member fee was lowered to zero for 2015. Ben and Robert agreed to work with Vedran to prepare him to take over the Treasurer role on 1 January.

Kimmo and the Board thanked Ben for his 4½ years of service on the AIDA Board. As a new father, Ben should not have a problem staying occupied ☺.

Kimmo noted that there had been no disciplinary matters for 2014, which is a positive. The Board discussed potential members of an AIDA Disciplinary Committee for 2015. The Board reviewed the qualities important for DC members, including judgment, professionalism, experience, and ability to work effectively in a group environment. The Executive Board voted unanimously to recommend the following persons as members of the 2015 AIDA Disciplinary Committee: Ekaterina Romanova, Secretary (Russia/Germany; judge, attorney), Michael Board (UK/Indonesia; elite athlete, instructor), Simon Bennett (Chile; athlete, instructor, IT professional), Per Westin (Sweden; elite athlete, medical doctor), and Claude Chapuis (France; AIDA Founder, AIDA National President). This group will be recommended to the Assembly for approval in an upcoming Assembly vote.

The Board first noted that AIDA had received seven excellent proposals for the 2015 AIDA Individual World Championships: four for pool, three for depth. The Board will work with organizers to continue this level of interest from qualified organizers.

The Board discussed numerous items for the 2015 AIDA Individual World Championships, to be held in Belgrade, Serbia (pool) and Limassol, Cyprus (depth). The Belgrade organizer will determine the exact dates of the competition in the next few days, and we will notify the Assembly and post it on AIDA’s Facebook page. In addition, both organizers are preparing for athletes who want to arrive early to train; we’ll post information on training dates (and costs) for both World Championships on Facebook. AIDA will also post the names of athletes who receive “wild card” bids to the World Championships (i.e. the top ten athletes per sex per discipline, from the 2014 AIDA ranking list). Both organizers have indicated that they have significant capacity for both competition and hotel spaces; accordingly, each country will be allowed to send up to four athletes per sex per discipline to the 2015 AIDA World Championships (wildcards do not count toward a country’s maximum).

At the 2014 AIDA Team World Championships, two new items worked well. First, AIDA subsidized the travel costs of three assistant judges from other continents (from Japan, Venezuela, New Zealand), allowing them to gain valuable experience and knowledge. We plan to continue this program in 2015, subsidizing room and board costs for committed AIDA judges. Second, AIDA held its first judge continuing education course, presenting information on a number of key subjects. Given the positive feedback on this course, we plan to hold another at one or both 2015 AIDA Individual World Championships.

The Board discussed having a member serve as safety liaison for the 2015 AIDA Depth World Championships in Cyprus, to review safety and evacuation planning and training for this competition. The Board will appoint this liaison at its next meeting.

The Board also discussed media coverage for both World Championships. Given the positive response of coverage in Cagliari, the Board voted to approve travel costs for Carla Hanson to provide media coverage in Belgrade (not to exceed EUR 1,500), plus funding for a dedicated photographer/videographer (not to exceed EUR 800).

In 2016, there will be both AIDA Pool and Team World Championships. This is the first time that Pool and Team will be held in the same year. In order to allow organizers and athletes to attract sponsors more effectively, AIDA is requesting proposals for these events approximately one year in advance of the events: for Pool, by 30 April; for Team, by 30 September. The Pool World Championships are expected to take place during April-June 2016, and the Team World Championships during August-October 2016.

Kimmo reviewed the “special Assembly” vote that was called by seven Nationals (demanding a second vote on Competition Rules updates, which had been approved by Assembly vote in September). The Assembly rejected the “special Assembly” proposal (it got only 10 votes, less than 1/3 of AIDA’s 33 Nationals).

AIDA is a volunteer organization, which depends on time volunteered by members of the Assembly and Nationals. This “special Assembly” occupied the entire Board and Assembly (approximately 90 volunteers), for three months. After this three-month process, the result was the same as in September: the Assembly upheld its September vote. AIDA, however, lost three months and a lot of energy that could have been spent on other matters (e.g. judge promotions). We apologize for this delay, and hope that in 2015 AIDA will be allowed to promote its mission – to develop the sport of freediving – rather spending volunteer time on politics and repeat votes.

Changes to the AIDA Competition Rules approved by the Assembly in 2014 (i.e. the May line item changes, July safety changes, and September line item and “clean up” changes) go into effect on 1 January 2015. To help Nationals, organizers, judges and athletes prepare for these changes, we will post the 2015 Rules on AIDA’s website and Facebook page, along with a copy showing all of the 2015 changes. In addition, we’ll post a summary of the major rule changes (e.g. touch rule, grab rule) to use as a reference.

Kimmo has been working with representatives from several Nationals to pilot a new Rules update process for 2015, in which the Rules will be posted on an online document management tool: Google Docs. Each National will be able to comment on the Rules: items it wants changed, deleted or added. A smaller group of representatives, led by Technical Officer Antero Joki, will review comments, and work on items supported by a number of Nationals. Rules updates should be smaller but more regular: likely a small number of changes voted on each year, to become effective 1 January of the next year (with emergency changes still possible if needed). Kimmo will present the Assembly with more detail on this process in the coming weeks.

Robert reported on the safety changes to the AIDA Competition Rules, which become effective on 1 January 2015. Several Nationals have asked for guidance on how to use these new rules: in particular (i) limitation of announcements; (ii) prohibition on recommencing descent; and (iii) consequences of squeezes. Robert will work with Technical Officer Antero Joki and AIDA Judge and special project manager Mario Zucic (President of AIDA Croatia) to produce “how to use” guidelines for these rules. Dr. Per Westin and Dr. Kerry Hollowell will prepare guidelines for organizers and competition doctors, on how to evaluate the severity of squeezes (also requested by several Nationals).

Robert also reported on the study on chest squeezes and freediving co-funded by AIDA, and being completed by medical researcher Erika Schagatay. The preliminary report is due out shortly; we will post it on AIDA’s Facebook page (subject to approval re copyright). Information from this study – in particular, the correlation between severity of squeeze and oxygen saturation over time (easily measured with an inexpensive device) – will be useful for competition organizers and doctors in evaluating the severity of squeezes.

Robert reported on information provided by AIDA Japan, from an October competition where an athlete was seriously injured (on a 46m CWT dive). Symptoms were similar to those of Nick Mevoli’s fatal accident. At the AIDA Team World Championships in Cagliari, the competition doctor gave a demonstration of how to treat this type of injury (based on his work saving an athlete with similar symptoms in Italy); fortunately, representatives from Japan at that demonstration were also at the October competition, and used the technique recommended by the Italian doctor to resuscitate the athlete (who recovered completely). It’s important to note that the athlete appears to have started ascent and recommenced descent twice; this may been a significant factor in his injury (as it was in Nick’s case). This incident highlights the importance of the rule prohibiting an athlete from recommencing descent; it also highlights the importance of AIDA focusing on safety and other critical functions.

Robert reported on safety-related activities at the 2014 Vertical Blue competition, just completed in the Bahamas. By agreement with the athletes, the organizer used many of the new safety rules that will go into place on 1 January 2015 (including limitation of announcements, prohibition on recommencing descent, and consequences of squeezes). Information from VB will be included in the summary described above on those rules. Of particular interest is VB’s measurement of oxygen saturation of all athletes after their dives (measurements that will go to Erika Schagatay for her study). These measurements were used to detect squeezes in athletes, and proved to be highly effective in doing so. This process may be useful as a model for other organizers.

Finally, we note that there was a DCI case at a recent competition. This case, and other reports in the last year, highlights the importance of better understanding the risks of DCI and freediving, and of how athletes may avoid DCI. The 2015 budget contains partial funding for a study on DCI and freediving, which we hope to begin in 2015.

Antero reported on the recent EUF meeting in Vienna (European underwater federation). In particular, he noted that several agencies are considering working together to gather data on freediving incidents; AIDA is likely to work with this group to share incident data. (Safety is not a competitive issue.)

The Board discussed the need to allow reactivation of inactive judges. Many inactive judges are high-level athletes or organizers, who are highly familiar with judging, but have not had time to judge due to other demands. Some judge instructors have required inactive judges to take another judge course to reactivate – at a cost of over EUR 300 – which appears unreasonable for judges who have already paid for a judge course (and who are not paid for judging). Accordingly, the Board voted to fund the development of an online judge reactivation course (similar to online CPR and first aid courses offered in the US and Europe), at a cost not to exceed EUR 4,000.

The Board reviewed problems with the 2009 Judge IOP, which prevents most judges from ever being promoted above Level D. For example, promotion to Level C requires being elected as main judge at two AIDA World Championships: for most judges, it is impossible to be elected even to one (a small group of senior judges judge at most AIDA World Championships). Promotion to Level B requires being a main judge at six world records; in the past few years there has only been an average of six world records per year (typically only one judge at a world record is below Level B).

Until the 2009 IOP is changed, it’s mathematically impossible for most judges to be promoted above Level D. The 2009 IOP also prevents judges in many countries (those without a Level D judge) from being promoted above Level E.

Are you in a country where judges have not been promoted above Level D (or Level E)? Do you think this system should change? We will ask the Assembly for input on this subject after the holidays.

The Board voted to approve the following instructors as AIDA Instructor Trainers:

  • Yoram Zekri (Australia)
  • Antero Joki (Finland/Germany)

Jean-Pol noted that, as is the policy for all new Instructor Trainers, these new ITs will have a six-month review period, to ensure that they actively teach AIDA Instructor courses. The appointment of these Instructor Trainers reflects AIDA’s ongoing commitment to having an AIDA Instructor Trainer in or near every AIDA country. All AIDA countries need easy access to AIDA Instructor Trainers, as they do to senior judges and Judge Instructors.

The Board voted to fund the development of a safety diver course (not to exceed EUR 2,000), in order to better train safety divers (including coordination with medical personal, and evacuation plans).

The Board voted to end the practice of annually reissuing all instructor (and judge) cards. This practice is no longer common in the industry – most agencies now use an online system for both instructor and student validation – is expensive, and is not ecological (both in use of plastic, and shipping).

Nonetheless, AIDA will continue issuing cards to newly certified instructors (and judges). Kimmo noted that the AIDA smart phone app will allow instant issuance of certifications, and may be used for students who prefer them (especially in locations where it’s difficult or expensive to ship physical cards).

The Board discussed the creation of AIDA International Freediving Centers: dive centers that offer AIDA courses and other freediving services. This is similar to dive centers supported by a number of other agencies. The Board believes that starting AIDA International Freediving Centers is important to developing the sport of freediving, and will make this program a priority for 2015. The Assembly has approved funding for this project; we will be updating you throughout the year on progress. The owners of several large freediving operations have given input on items that would be useful to AIDA International Freediving Centers.

If you would like further information on these or other topics, please do not hesitate to contact Kimmo, Robert, or any other Board member.


AIDA Board


Season’s Greetings from AIDA International!


Fellow AIDA freedivers, we look forward to a safe, productive and enjoyable 2015: continuing AIDA’s mission of developing the sport of freediving around the world. We hope to see as many of you as possible at the 2015 AIDA Individual World Championships: Pool World Championships in Belgrade, Serbia (19-28 June), and Depth World Championships in Limassol, Cyprus (11-20 September).

Best wishes for the Holidays to you and your families from the AIDA International Board:

Kimmo Lahtinen, President
Robert King, Vice President
Carla Hanson, Secretary
Ben Noble, Treasurer
Vedran Milat, Treasurer Elect
Ute Gessmann, Sport Officer
Antero Joki, Technical Officer
Jean-Pol François, Education Officer
Per Westin, Medical and Science Officer
Julien Alias, ITC Officer
Petar Bojovic, Judge Responsible&Legal officer