Ever since Roland Specker and Claude Chapuis in 1992 sought out a number of European freedivers, aiming to unite them in an association to recognize records, the competitions have been the backbone of AIDA activity. Competitions is the venue where freedivers get to meet and express their joy of being under water. In later years the sport of apnea has seen some 90 competitions every season, with an ongoing trend of growing, not in numbers, but in attendance.
Let us not forget that in order for a competition to appear on the calendar, an individual must take the initiative and shoulder the overall responsibility. When orchestrating big competitions we are talking about a considerable sacrifice of free time, family and work time. When it comes to organizing an international competition, such as a world championship, there are additional pressures added.
- The 1st AIDA World Championship was held in Nice in October 1996 by initiative of Claude Chapuis. It was a competition for national teams featuring Constant Weight and Static Apnea, with 35 participants.
- Umberto Pelizzari hosted the 2nd AIDA World Championship in Sardinia in 1998. Now with 28 countries attending.
- In 2001, with the support of Club Med, Olivier Herrera, a young Spaniard, organized the 3rd AIDA Team World Championship in Ibiza.
- In 2003 and 2004 Howard Jones offered the BIOS Open competition with around a 100 participants flying to Cyprus to dive from a barge.
- A major media event in 2005 was the IWC World Static Apnea Contest, held in Monaco in July and organized by Pierre Frolla.
These names that take on these ventures and fill AIDA with activity should be remembered. Names such as Kirk Krack, Sebastien Nagel, Francois Gautier, Sandi Bitenc, Kurt Lykke Larsen, William Trubridge, among others. For the upcoming Team World Championship top-level freediver Ryozo Shimoniya has taken on the challenge to make it happen.
In between all these major events we see hundreds upon hundreds of competitions being organized on a national level. In pools, in lakes, in green water, in blue water, in sink holes, in tanks, under ice, from boats, from platforms. Over the years some hundred organizers has made it possible for over 20.000 performances to be made in the name of AIDA.
This spring, AIDA has two major competition events in the calendar. Stavros Kastrinakis organizes a 5 day event in June with 45 freedivers from the higher ranking. It takes place in the Mediterranean, in the city of Kalamata.
Before the Mediterranean meeting, Bahamas is again seeking our attention with a small, but truly amazing starting field of freedivers; Vertical Blue in April 2010.
This is an event for those that are interested in seeing what the best freedivers of the world can perform side by side under the stress in a competition; for those who want to know who the deepest competition freediver is right now; to see who would be the best of the top five if they fought it out side by side in all three deep dive disciplines.
Herbert Nitsch (Austria) against Martin Stepanek (Czeck) in the CWT discipline where they for years have fought over the world record and pushed it down to 123 meters. To add to the drama we can also witness William Trubridge (New Zealand) and Guillaume Néry (France), both fresh world champion medalists with an overall competence in all three disciplines. From Japan we will see Ryuzo Shinomiya, one of the some 10 freedivers in the world that has made it to 100 meters and beyond with a monofin. William Winram has his eyes set on the no fins record, and is training specifically for a 91 meter dive. Dave Mullins (New Zealand) will add a special flavor to the show, as he challenged Nitsch for the CWT world record in the 2007 world championships, and has been doing amazing dives in the pool. Here is a master with or without fins that we rarely see outside New Zealand.
Using a monofin (CWT) to 115 meter and more, and pulling themselves on a rope (FIM) close to world record level at 110 meters, and without fins breast stroking (CNF) themselves down to depths of 80 meters and beyond. Clash of the titans indeed. That is the Vertical Blue Suunto dive-off in April in Bahamas.
All results can be seen on the new AIDA ranking page: