Aida International Board Meeting Notes: 31 January 2015

Kimmo welcomed AIDA’s new Treasurer, Vedran Milat. Vedran has been working with Kimmo, Robert and Ben to ensure a smooth transition for treasury functions. The Board reviewed AIDA’s financial status, as presented by Kimmo and Vedran. Kimmo noted that AIDA is saving a significant amount by not reprinting instructor and judge cards (new instructors and judges will have cards printed). Kimmo also noted that the StampKey smartphone application (for example) allows divers to hold certification cards (and other nonpayment cards) in soft copy form on smartphones; this may be an alternative to issuing plastic cards (lower cost, and less environmental impact). In all Aida electronic certificates there is also a QR code that points to the original electronic certificate at AIDA’s webserver.

Kimmo and Rob then updated the Board on AIDA’s Competition Rules and announced that the 2015 version of the Rules has been posted on AIDA’s website, and Rob has distributed a summary of major rules changes to the Assembly (also posted to AIDA’s Facebook page). The Board discussed ways to help athletes, judges, organizers and others use the updated Rules. The Board plans to offer judge continuing education courses covering the new Rules at both 2015 AIDA Individual World Championships.

Kimmo is working with a number of National representatives on the new Rules update procedure, and will send the Assembly a note shortly on how this process will work for 2015. If you have suggestions for changes to the Rules, you will be able to use this procedure to have the TC and Assembly consider them.

Judge Responsible Petar Bojovic presented information on judges eligible for promotion. The Board discussed the candidates, and voted to approve a number of judges for promotion to Level D, C and B (under the 2009 IOP, no candidates were eligible to promotion to higher levels). Petar will notify promoted judges, and update their information on the judges list on the AIDA website.

Promoted to Level D

  • VILLADSEN Astrid Rosenvold
  • DINIĆ Sandra
  • SUCK Christina
  • ZUCCARI Andrea
  • JARDINE Kate
  • ZINCHUK Natalia
  • CHRISTENSEN Flemming
  • ZINCHUK Arkadiy
  • HANSSON Klara
  • CAILLET Franck
  • LARA Isabelle
  • KITAHAMA Junko
  • WRIGHT John

Promoted to Level C

  • SUBOTIN Darija

Promoted to Level B

  • KING Robert
  • GACA Rładosw

JP provided information on Stephan Randig, an instructor in the Philippines. The Board voted to approve Mr. Randig as AIDA Instructor Trainer, subject to the standard 6-month review period.

Ute reported on the sanctioning of competitions in countries without Nationals. The Board discussed, and voted to simplify the sanctioning process to avoid having Nationals asked to sanction competitions outside of their countries: for competitions in a country with a National, the National must approve; for competitions in other countries, AIDA International will approve (Competition rule 2.3.11).

Ute noted that two competitions in November and December (in Thailand) were represented as AIDA competitions, but were not sanctioned. In order to protect the interests of the athletes—who spent time and money to attend those competitions—the Board voted to ratify those results and post to the ranking list.

Kimmo then noted that AIDA’s judge promotion system has failed to allow the promotion of experienced judges, and to assist with judge training generally. The source of this problem is the 2009 Judge IOP (which practically prevents experienced judges from being promoted); the cost of certification, training and experience is also contributes to the problem. The Board discussed this problem, acknowledging that it interferes with AIDA’s mission: to develop the sport of freediving worldwide. The Board voted to approve four items to help with judge training:

  1. To subsidize travel expense for up to four dedicated AIDA judges, to assistant judge at 2015 AIDA World Championships (up to a total of EUR 2,000; i.e. EUR 650 per judge); this will allow judges from other continents to gain experience as assistant judges, at a reasonable cost.
  2. To have an AIDA Judge Instructor teach an AIDA Judge Course at the 2015 AIDA Pool World Championship in Belgrade, at a cost not to exceed EUR 75 per student; this will allow judge students who pay to travel to Belgrade, and for hotel there, to take a judge course at a reasonable cost; (total cost not to exceed EUR 1,500). This also reflects the fact that there are no pool or classroom costs to run this course: Petar and Carla have volunteered to assist.
  3. To subsidize an AIDA Judge Instructor to teach a judge course at the Pan Pacific championships in Brisbane, Australia, in November 2015 (expense not to exceed EUR 800—class and EUR 50 fees included); the organizer will pay for airfare). Cost of the judge course will not exceed EUR 75 per student; this will allow judge students in the Asia/Pacific region to take a judge course at a reasonable cost.
  4. To hold judge continuing education courses in both Belgrade and Cyprus. These courses will cover a number of topics, including: 2015 changes to the Competition Rules, the CARS system, equipment, pool and rope measurement, start and surfacing issues, video, anti-doping testing and WR documentation.

Kimmo noted that the failings of AIDA’s judge promotion system are too large for the Board to fix on its own: there are a number of items that require Assembly vote to address. The Board reviewed this issue, and voted to request that the Assembly approve three items to help with judge training:

  1. To approve two Assistant judges per elected judge at the 2015 AIDA Individual World Championships: 16 for Belgrade, and 12 for Cyprus. (The Assembly approved two assistant judges per judge at last year’s AIDA Team World Championship.)
  2. To approve judge credit for judge continuing education courses at the 2015 AIDA Individual World Championships (equivalent to a morning of judging, plus 1-2 “B” points). (The Assembly approved such credit for the continuing education course at last year’s AIDA Team World Championship.)
  3. To approve a change to the process for electing judges for AIDA World Championships, so that different judges may be elected (currently, a small group of senior judges is elected for every AIDA World Championship; this prevents other judges from getting experience at AIDA World Championships). The change would allow a judge to judge only at every other AIDA World Championship: if a judge judges at an AIDA World Championship, he/she would not be not eligible to judge at the next.

An Assembly vote on these three items will be requested in early February.

The Board discussed another item relating to the judge system which is the 2009 IOP, which has failed AIDA with respect to judge promotion: rather than govern judge promotion, the 2009 IOP prevents it. Rob noted that, AIDA has only six judge instructors, and ten other senior judges (Levels A and B): After 22 years of existence, AIDA has only 13 senior judges worldwide (many of whom are currently in-active) Kimmo noted that the 2009 IOP is unlike any system for judge/referee promotion in any other sport. In order to allow experienced AIDA judges to be promoted, sections of the IOP that prevent promotion must be replaced with fair processes for promotion. The Board discussed ways to change the 2009 IOP to permit experienced judges to be promoted, and voted to recommend that the Assembly review and approve the following changes:

  1. Simplify the system of points and levels (this was included in the draft from May 2014); recommend a system of one judge experience point representing one performance judged.
  2. Judges in countries without a Level D judge have often been unable to earn “D” points. Eliminate “D” points concept to reflect current AIDA Competition Rules (where there is only one type of AIDA competition— no longer “International” giving D points and “National” giving “E” points).
  3. Very few judges are elected as main judges at AIDA World Championships (required under the 2009 IOP for promotion to Level C). Remove requirement to be elected main judge to be promoted to Level C; recommend replacing with experience as main judge OR assistant judge, plus continuing education and assisting at a judge course.
  4. Very few judges are main judges for AIDA world records (required under the 2009 IOP for promotion to Level B and higher). Remove requirement to be main judge for world records to be promoted to Level B or higher; recommend replacing with experience as main judge OR assistant judge, plus continuing education and assisting at a judge course.

The Board will present the Assembly with a proposal for these changes in February, and will provide six weeks for review and comment prior to requesting a vote on them.

The Board discussed matters relating to the 2015 AIDA Individual World Championships. Rob noted that information regarding both World Championships has been sent to the Assembly and posted on Facebook, including competition dates, wild card invitation, and registration information. Please make sure that athletes planning to attend register by the registration deadlines.

The Board noted requests from athletes without AIDA Nationals to attend the 2015 AIDA Individual World Championships. The Board voted to approve such requests, and appointed Carla to manage them and coordinate with the organizers on this issue.

As noted, the Board voted

  • (i) to subsidize room and board costs for committed AIDA judges from outside of Europe, who wish to assistant judge at the 2015 AIDA Individual World Championships.
  • (ii) to provide a judge course at a reasonable fee (taking into account airfare, room and board that students must pay – EUR 75).
  • (iii) to hold judge continuing education courses in Belgrade and Cyprus. 2015 AIDA Depth World Championship Safety Planning. Ute and Petar will be in Cyprus in February to teach a judge course, and will review facilities and plans for the competition with the organizer then.

Rob reported on safety preparations for Cyprus, noting that the organizer is working actively to implement the new safety rules (effective 1 January 2015). The Board voted to appoint Rob as safety liaison for the Cyprus competition; he will continue to work with lead organizer Savvas Savva on safety preparations. The Board reviewed work performed by the Vertical Blue safety team in December, including implementation of the new rule about squeezes. Tom Ardavany, medic for the 2014 VB competition, has volunteered to serve as adviser to the Cyprus WC; the Board voted to pay for airfare to fly Tom Ardavany to Cyprus to advise the Cyprus team (not to exceed EUR 1500); Tom will pay his own room and board, and will provide his services without charge to AIDA.

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, the Board voted to approve proposal deadlines for these events approximately one year in advance: for the 2016 AIDA Pool World Championships, by 30 April; for the 2016 AIDA Team World Championships, 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.

In accordance with AIDA’s Statutes, the Board voted to appoint the following non-voting officers for 2015:

  • Judge Responsible Petar Bojovic
  • Medical and Science Officer Per Westin
  • Legal Officer Petar Bojovic
  • IT Officer Julien Alias

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


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


New World Record in Dynamic Apnea No-fins


9 November 2014 Brno, Czech Republic

Experienced diver Mateusz Malina of Krakow, Poland achieved a long-time goal of being a World Record diver. In a time of 4:27, he swam underwater for 226m . He surfaced with a very strong protocol and received a well-deserved white card from the judges.

Since 2012 Matt had been training all disciplines, except static, regularly. He trained pool several times a week and did exhale dives to maintain lung flexibility, once a week in a nearby quarry. In his opinion, this training achieved ‘modest results”. Then in July 2013 he “focused solely on DNF,FIM, and CNF” because he believes they are all connected. Matt said “It works pretty well for me” and it certainly seems that he is correct.

Congratulations and well done Matt!


Russian Teams sweep World championships !

Aida world champions 2014

26 September 2015, Cagliari, Sardinia.

The Team World Championships of 2015 proved to be a wonderfully organized and exciting competition in a beautiful setting.

The Croatian men, led by World Record holder Goran Colak, came prepared to defend their title from 2013 but the Russian men were on a mission to capture the gold! Natalia Molchanova was hoping to add another gold medal to her long- list of triumphs and did so in brilliant fashion with a 237 meter new World Record in dynamic apnea which gave the Russian women a decided victory over Japan.

There were many impressive performances including Goran’s very easy 9:13 static but that was not enough to carry the team to a medal. Team competition relies completely on points, and clean performances by each member of the team delivers the most points overall. A few unexpected red cards throughout the competition kept the points close and the outcome unpredictable. In the end , The Russians prevailed with the most white cards and some big performances. The Czechs were very strong and won two medals, as well.

Medal Winners:

  • Women: Russia- Gold – Japan, Silver, Czech Republic – Bronze
  • Men: Russia -Gold, Czech Republic – Silver, Finland – Bronze