Every year we are glad to see athletes who decide to compete for the first time. As exciting as it is, diving in a competition means following a strict set of rules which can be quite different from the casual diving we do in training.
What makes our freediving competitions here in Panglao so special is that even during big events like the AFC, all levels of divers are competing. Everyone is diving together, from complete beginners to world record holders.
To help you enjoy your competition experience more, we would like to share some tips & tricks from our experience competing at different events around the world. This article is not only aimed at novice athletes, but maybe contains some interesting points for even more seasoned divers.
Traveling around the world to compete is a lot of fun, but comes with its challenges. When arriving at an event you want to be in top physical shape, well rested and of course healthy. What doesn’t make that easier is that airports, planes, ferries and other public transportation are often home to bacteria, viruses and very dry air conditioned air. To avoid getting sick while traveling, here some tips:
• Stay warm
Especially feet and neck. If you are traveling to Bohol via Cebu, we want to mention that most of the fast ferries are air conditioned to very low temperatures. Make sure to have a light jacket, blanket or scarf ready.
• Stay Hydrated!
Especially air in planes is usually very dry which can lead to dehydration. Make sure to drink plenty of fluids. Recommended is also the use of a facial mask which helps to humidify the air that you breathe. During times of intense training and traveling we recommend also the intake of re-hydration salts that provide important minerals and help in keeping the body hydrated.
• Adaptation is important!
When traveling far to compete, the body needs time to adapt to different food, different climate, and to overcome jet lag. Good sleep is crucial for freediving and you will need some time to adjust to a new time zone.
It might take as much as one day per time zone traveled, but for some around half might be enough. This year we have athletes coming from as far as from Europe and the United States. In this case, plan some extra days to find back to a consistent sleeping rhythm.
Doing some training on the same setup as we use in the competition can also be a good idea.
Paperwork & the pre competition meeting
Every freediving competition usually starts with a “Competition Meeting” or the so called “Registration”. This is always very important and everyone who is joining the event should be present. Our meeting for the AFC will be on the afternoon of June 8th. Exact time and location will be announced later. Because the meeting is just one day before the competition, you don’t want to face any last minute surprises, so here is what you need to prepare and bring:
• Your Passport
The passport mainly serves the purpose of confirming the nationality you are starting for. We will also record your passport number.
Interesting fact is that Athletes with multiple nationalities / passports must announce a change of Nationality to AIDA International the previous year, and then it’s not possible to switch within the coming year.
• The Medical Statement.
Obviously it’s there to state that you are healthy and fit to dive. Most of you might know this already from taking a freediving course. The difference in a competition is that the medical statement must be signed by a licensed physician. The medical statement is valid for one year.
We have doctors present at the competition meeting who can issue medical statements. However they will be limited with their possibilities of examination. If you have concerns about your health we strongly advise to have a thorough medical check-up before your journey.
Interesting Fact: Athletes who are doctors cannot sign their own medical statement!
• Your Lanyard!
The Judges of the competition will inspect your lanyard and mark it if it passes the inspection. Important is that carabiners open and close easily (no screw locks), quick releases function, and buckles and velcro straps are in good shape. We advise to use your “competition lanyard” as much as possible in training, as every lanyard can behave a bit differently while diving.
• Announcement for day one
We will ask you to announce your Dive for the first comp day which is the Constant Weight day. With the new “CWTB” (Constant Weight Bifin) discipline, it’s going to be a mixed day.
Diving with bifins you have 2 choices when announcing:
- Announce your dive as “CWT”: You will receive 1 point per meter for the competition internal ranking. You are free to use any kind of kicking technique, including dolphin kick.
- Announce your dive as “CWTB”: In that case you will receive 1.2 points per meter in our internal ranking. But will be limited to using only flutter kick (arm strokes are ok). Dolphin kicks will result in disqualification.
Together with depth and discipline you also need to announce the estimated dive time. This is mainly for our safety team. We recommend keeping track of your speed and dive times in training to get an accurate announcement in competition.
In addition to passport, lanyard and announcement we will also ask everyone to sign a liability release and settle any outstanding payment of the competition fee.–
What did I forget…?
We all know the feeling, getting ready to dive and then trying to figure out the one missing piece of equipment… Especially in competition, mentally going through rules, protocols and trying to keep the nerves at bay it can be easy to forget something.
As there is only one official dive per day in competition, a missing neck weight, nose clip, or computer can mean a huge loss of points for a spoiled dive. To avoid this we recommend creating a small checklist of essential equipment when getting ready in the morning. This can also be a good task to hand over to a coach!
Timing is everything!
How is it possible to host an event with 80 Freedivers and still make sure that everyone can enjoy a relaxed and calm atmosphere? The answer is timing! The day before an official dive every athlete receives an “Official Top (=Time of Performance). From that exact time the athlete has a time window of 30 seconds to commence the dive. With around 10 – 12 minutes in between dives and a maximum warm up time of 45 minutes prior to OT, it means that at any given time there will be no more than 3-4 athletes in the water at each set up.
What is very important is to be ready on time. We recommend to practice this in training by creating a timeline, basically calculating the time backwards from Official Top. This can include breathe up times, warm ups, relaxation on the surface, going out by boat, putting on the wetsuit, stretching, etc… It is very common for athletes to note this timeline on a slate or even writing it on the back of the hand to keep track of the plan.
As even just a few minutes can make a difference, in competition all watches are set to “Official Time” which is basically “Internet Time” or GMT +8.
Play it safe!
Finally we would like to end this months article with a small word of caution. When you think about which depth you would like to attempt during the AFC, think very carefully. From our own experience we can guarantee that a sub-maximal dive that we can do comfortably will in the end usually result in more satisfaction, fun and overall a better result than a dive where we push ourselves too far. An unsuccessful dive is more than just a loss of points. More importantly it can mean frustration and loss of motivation, the last thing we need to take away from competition.
We have to remember that just because we achieve a certain performance in training doesn’t mean that we will be able to repeat it under the different circumstances of a Competition. Especially for novice competitors we highly recommend to shave off 2-3 meters from the personal best to make for a smooth competition dive!
Thanks for taking the time to read, we hope you enjoyed it! We will be back with exciting news on March 8th which will be day we publish the Athlete Inlist!
Until then, as always safe and successful training,
The Freedive Panglao Team
Also, make sure you read the introduction to the Asian Freediving Cup setup.