Results of the Assembly vote on the Safety Proposal

Members of the AIDA Assembly, I would like to present you the results of the Assembly vote on the Safety Proposal.  First, I would like to thank the Assembly representatives and other members of AIDA Nationals that reviewed, commented constructively on, and voted on this Proposal—your efforts make freediving safer for all AIDA athletes.  Second, I would like to thank the other members of the Safety workgroup, who donated significant time and expertise to this project:  Dr. Johan Dahlström, Dr. Per Westin, Erika Schagatay, Stavros Kastrinakis, Antero Joki, and William Trubridge.

We join together in AIDA International because we love freediving.  The fatal accident of Nick Mevoli last November—the first in an AIDA competition—has led us to reexamine our sport.  We don’t want freediving to become like alpinism, where death is accepted as an inherent risk.  Your efforts make freediving safer.  The proposals you approved are one of many steps AIDA is taking on safety; others include changes to the AIDA education system, an online AIDA Incident Reporting System to gather data for analysis, and funding for medical research relating to freediving.  At September’s AIDA Team World Championships in Sardinia, we’ll have presentations regarding the changes that you’ve approved, and also a beta version of the Incident Reporting System.

This Safety Proposal is a first step, not the last.  Next year, we’ll review how these changes are working, review incident data, and return to you with items that may benefit from change: to update items that need improvement; to delete any that aren’t working; and to recommend items to address new issues that may be identified.  To that end, please continue to provide input on the Safety Proposal, and safety related matters generally (send to Board_AIDA@yahoogroups.com); we’ll collect your input, and the Safety Workgroup will review it in 2015.  Our goal is to present you with a Safety Proposal v2.0 mid to late next year—safety is an continuous process.

The changes you approved will take effect 1 January 2015.  That said, we’ll be working on a number of the items informally (e.g. Sonar and other equipment and training at this year’s Team World Championship), and William Trubridge will be piloting a number of these items, with agreement of the athletes, at Vertical Blue in November.

Vote Results

1. Limitation on Announcements

Item 1 on limitation of announcements received 10 votes for, and 10 votes against: a tie. In accordance with AIDA’s Statutes, this item will go back to you for vote (along with the Rules proposal to be presented to you in about another week—see below).

2. Sonar

All three items were approved, by large margins.

Item 2A requires organizers to train with and use Sonar at AIDA World Championships and World Record events (18 for, 2 against).

Item 2B requires organizers to train with and use Sonar at AIDA competitions with world record status (18 for, 2 against).

Item 2C recommends (but does not require) organizers to train with and use Sonar at other AIDA competitions for depth disciplines, unless the maximum competition depth is within sight of safety divers (16 for, 4 against).

3. Prohibition on Recommencing Descent; Feet First Descents

Item 3A was approved (11 for, 9 against), prohibiting athletes from turning back down once they have started to ascend.  As previously noted, the competition gauge and bottom camera can be used to apply this rule—both to verify information from Sonar, and to inform judges of infractions.

Item 3B was not approved (8 for, 12 against), so the proposal to prohibit feet first descents (recommended by AIDA Germany) will not go into effect.  AIDA Nationals with an interest in this rule are requested to provide AIDA with any additional information they may obtain on feet-first descents.

4. Consequences of Squeezes

Item 4 was approved (11 for, 9 against).  The Executive Board and Safety workgroup recognize that this rule is a significant change for AIDA, but also an important one to protect athletes.  Squeezes appear to be worsening in recent years, as athletes get to greater depths faster; it once took a decade to reach 100m, but divers now have reached that depth in a year.  Lung squeeze was a large factor in last year’s fatal accident, and AIDA International believes that this new rule is important in helping protect athletes from thoracic barotrauma.

AIDA Finland noted the importance of applying this rule objectively and uniformly, and requested that AIDA International provide guidance on how to apply this rule.  Those points are well taken.  Safety is critical, but this rule must be applied fairly. To that end, we will request that the AIDA Medical Officer (with support as needed) provide guidance to the Assembly on different types and degrees of squeezes, prior to 1 January 2015.

5. Consequences of Blackouts

Item 5 was not approved (2 for option 1; 1 for option 2; 5 for option 3, and 11 for no change).  Accordingly, no change will be made regarding blackouts.  AIDA International will continue to monitor data regarding blackouts, and watch for trends that could indicate increased risk.  Interested Nationals are requested to provide input on this matter.

6. Training & Equipment

All four items were approved, by large margins.

Item 6A requires minimum training for doctors at AIDA World Championships and World Record events (17 for, 3 against).

Item 6B requires minimum training for doctors at competitions with world record status (16 for, 4 against).

Item 6C requires minimum equipment at AIDA World Championships and World Record events, and at competitions with world record status (18 for, 1 against).  In particular, AIDA believes that training with and availability of pocket masks will protect safety divers from the risk of blood borne pathogens, and allow them to provide rescue breaths without risk of disease.

Item 6D recommends (but does not require) additional equipment at AIDA World Championships and World Record events, and at competitions with world record status (17 for, 2 against).

7. Incident Reporting System; Rest Days

Item 7A was approved (19 for, 1 opposed), so beginning 1 January 2015, AIDA will require organizers (with input from head judge and doctor) to report safety related incidents at AIDA competitions on the online AIDA Incident Reporting System.  We plan to have a pilot version of this system available for use and comment at September’s AIDA Team World Championship in Sardinia.  If you are in Sardinia, please join us to learn more about this important addition to AIDA’s safety services.

Item 7B was approved (17 for, 3 against), so AIDA will recommend that organizers add rest days to competitions where possible.

8. Judge Continuing Education and Reactivation Courses

Item 8 was approved (18 for, 2 against); this item is not part of the Safety Proposal, but was time sensitive, so was included in the recent vote.  AIDA will offer a continuing judge education course during the AIDA Team World Championships in Sardinia (free of charge).  AIDA believes that continuing education is critical for both the training and promotion of judges, as world record points are impossible for most judges to obtain (and accordingly, under the current Judge IOP most judges cannot be promoted to higher levels).  Experience points will be granted to judges attending this course.

AIDA will also offer a judge refresher course during the AIDA Team World Championships in Sardinia, to reactivate inactive AIDA judges (at a nominal fee). AIDA believes that reactivation of inactive judges, without the expense of retaking a judge course, is important for judges in a number of countries.

Next Assembly Vote

As you determined in July, the next matter for the Assembly’s consideration and vote will be the update of the AIDA Competition Rules; the Rules have not been updated since 2009.  This vote will come to you in approximately one week.  The update will be presented in two parts:  a “clean up” version of the Rules (in general, cleaning up ambiguities, grammar, and the like), and line item changes for individual items. To facilitate your review, nothing has been added to the “clean up” version that you reviewed in May and June.  In general, items that you requested a line item vote on will be removed from the “clean up” version, and given a line item vote; a small number of items that raised larger concerns will be removed completely (e.g., the “Level D judge requirement”).  All items removed from the “clean up” version will be marked (likely highlighted in yellow) so you can see them easily. The vote on the Rules update will be open for four weeks, to allow sufficient time to translate, review, and vote.  We understand the concerns raised by a number of Nationals in May and June, and hope to address them with this vote.

Finally, thank you again for your review of the Safety Proposal, your comments on it, and your votes—your time and effort are appreciated by AIDA International and AIDA athletes worldwide.

Best regards,

Robert King
Vice President, AIDA International