Summary of AIDA Activities in 2011

In 2011, AIDA International continued to improve services and processes under the guidance of Kimmo Lahtinen and the new Executive Board (i.e. officers elected for 2010 and 2011). In December 2010, the Assembly voted to retain Grant Graves as Vice President, Ben Noble as Treasurer, and Robert King as Secretary, and elected Ute Gessmann as Sport Officer. Although a number of the legacy issues from the previous administration were resolved in 2010 (e.g. AIDA’s Statutes were revised, and the Board began holding regular meetings and providing regular updates to the Assembly), this work continued in 2011. In particular, Kimmo and the Board have continued to implement standard controls and accountability, which were lacking for AIDA prior to 2010.

Though there was much to celebrate in the world of freediving in 2011, last summer also saw the loss of two high-profile freedivers: Adel Abu Haliqa (UAE) and Patrick Musimu (Belgium). Each is greatly missed, and our thoughts go out to the families of Adel and Patrick. Though the causes were different—Adel in no-limits training, and Patrick in a pool—both cases highlight the importance of each diver’s responsibility for his or her own safety, the importance of lanyards for depth training, and the importance of a trained safety diver for all in-water breath holding. I hope that 2012 will be free of serious accidents in the world of freediving.

In 2011, the AIDA Board continued to manage its work and decisions by teleconference meetings. For the eleven months ending 30 November 2011, the Board has had nine meetings (with a tenth scheduled for December). Management has been more effective with these meetings, and they will be continued in 2012. Attendance for these meeting was as follows (please note that as meetings were during normal hours in Europe, in most months the meeting was between midnight and 08:00 for either Grant or Ben):

Kimmo Lahtinen (9 of 9)
Grant Graves (5 of 9)
Ute Gessmann (8 of 9)
Stavros Kastrinakis (7 of 9)
Robert King (9 of 9)
Ben Noble (4 of 9)
Gregory Piazzola (5 of 9)

In addition, there were two general meetings where all persons were welcome: one at each of the AIDA World Championship competitions in Kalamata and Lignano. Though these meetings were unofficial (i.e. they contained no Assembly or Board votes), they provided athletes, coaches and other participants the opportunity to meet and ask questions of AIDA’s officers.

In 2011 there were six Assembly votes (including the December annual election), including the approval of two world championship venues (Lignano for 2011, and Nice/Villefranche for 2012), selection of world championship judges, approval of new observer members, and election of officers for 2012. These votes are critical to the function of AIDA, and I would like to thank each of you individually for the time you have taken to consider and participate in these votes.

Some of AIDA’s most significant achievements in 2011 involve the implementation of new or updated information technology systems. Such projects included:

  1.  The Education Online System (EOS) and certification process renewal
    –This system has resulted in a dramatic decrease in time required to print and deliver new certification cards, and the ability to decrease unit costs over time.
  2. New AIDA website launch
    – The new website includes an updated architecture, based on selected open source solutions.
    – The new website has helped AIDA to improve communications with athletes, students, judges, organizers, marketing partners and others interested in AIDA.
  3. Competition Announcement and Ranking System (CARS)
    – This system permits organizers to announce AIDA competitions on the AIDA website, and to create automated competition spreadsheets, all on a self-service basis.
    – This system also permits organizers to pay competition fees and upload competition results on an automated basis.
  4. Judge database system
    – This system facilitates access to AIDA judge information, and management of judge point information.
    – This system is designed to automatically calculate judge points, with the application connected directly to the AIDA competition database.

In 2012, the Board plans to continue implementing new systems and processes to streamline operations and speed up response time; one such project is for an incident reporting system, to automate the reporting and documentation of freediving accidents (such systems are also used by other dive agencies). In addition, we also plan to enhance/upgrade the EOS, website, CARS and judge systems.

At the committee level, AIDA’s Disciplinary Committee was reconstituted for 2011 (though I am happy to state that there were only a small number of matters that warranted its attention). In a perfect world, there would be no work for the DC, but it’s important to have the DC ready for cases that warrant consideration.

On a more somber note, AIDA investigated two serious accidents in 2011: the loss of Adel Abu Haliqa while training no-limits in Santorini, and the near-fatal accident of Anna von Boetticher during a variable weight record attempt in Sharm el-Sheikh. Results of these investigations are currently being incorporated into enhanced safety guidelines for both deep diving and sled diving, which the Board plans to release in January. Though AIDA recognizes that there are risks inherent in freediving (as in most outdoor sports), AIDA remains committed to minimizing these risks through the review of incidents/accidents, and the publication of safety guidelines applicable to AIDA competitions, and recommended for training and other non-competition diving.

In the education area, the AIDA Board developed and approved a new AIDA Instructor Trainer Policy and selection process, and approved twelve new AIDA Instructor Trainers (most recommended by their AIDA Nationals). Though there is a learning process with any new system, the Board is in general excited about this new group of Instructor Trainers: after a period of years with no new Instructor Trainers and few active ITs, the Board hopes that this new Policy and the renewed focus on education will benefit AIDA Nationals and freedivers in many areas. The Board is currently developing an IT contribution policy, which will require new ITs to contribute their time to the Education Committee, either for process functions (e.g. responding to inquiries regarding certification cards) or for projects (e.g. enhancing the student materials or slides for a particular course). The AIDA Instructor Trainers appointed in 2011 are:

Konstantin Borisov (Russia)
Stavros Kastrinakis (Greece)
Simo Kurra (Finland)
Kimmo Lahtinen (Finland)
Panos Lianos (Greece)
Nik Linder (Germany)
Savvas Savva (Cyprus)
Kateryna Smirnova (Dahab, Egypt)
Aharon Solomons (Mexico)
Dean Spahic (Canada, Egypt)
William Winram (Canada/Switzerland)
Richard Wonka (Thailand)

In the Treasury area, Ben Noble, Robert King and Kimmo Lahtinen have continued to work to introduce normal controls into AIDA’s accounts and reporting, and to minimize bank fees paid by AIDA. A financial report for AIDA for 2011, including revenue, expense and end of year balance, will be provided to the Assembly in the first quarter of 2012.

In the Secretary area, Robert King and the AIDA Board developed a New Member Policy to clarify the steps that organizations in countries without an AIDA National may take to join AIDA (typically by first becoming an Observer member, developing a level of experience and expertise in the freediving community, and finally by becoming a full National member); he also works with persons wishing to establish AIDA organizations in countries that do not currently have an AIDA National. In addition, Robert updated AIDA’s member list and contact information in 2011, giving AIDA a complete and current list of its membership and national representatives.

In 2011, AIDA renewed its product sponsorship agreement with Suunto, providing AIDA with new gauges for world championship competitions and world record events. Suunto also delivered judge shirts for all judges (at no cost to AIDA) as a part of this sponsorship agreement.

Perhaps most importantly, in 2011 AIDA held two world championship competitions: Depth World Championships in Kalamata, Greece, and Pool World Championships in Lignano, Italy. These competitions were well attended by AIDA Nationals.

At the world championship competitions, three new world records were set: two by Natalia Molchanova in Kalamata (CWT -101m and FIM -88m), and one by Goran Colak in Lignano (DYN 273m). A large number of national records were also set at each competition. We would like to congratulate Natalia, Goran, and each of the new national record holders for their accomplishments

The AIDA International Executive Board looks forward to building on the achievements of 2010 and 2011 to further enhance AIDA’s education, safety and competition functions in 2012, to better serve the AIDA Nationals and their divers, organizers, judges, and instructors world wide.

On behalf of Aida Board,

Kimmo Lahtinen
AIDA international, president