US Freediving and Car of Tomorrow are pleased to announce that U.S. freedivers Ashley Futral-Chapman and Robert King each broke records and medalled at the international Vertical Blue Freediving competition at Dean’s Blue Hole, Long Island, Bahamas. Dean’s Blue Hole is the deepest blue hole in the world, over 200m (660 feet) deep. Over fifty athletes from around the world competed at this year’s Vertical Blue, including current and former world record holders and world champions.
Ashley finished second overall for women; Robert finished third overall for the men. Ashley also set a world and U.S. women’s record in Constant No Fins with a dive to 67m (219 feet), as well as U.S. women’s records in Constant Weight with Fins at 82m (268 feet) and Free Immersion at 81m (265 feet); Robert set a U.S. record in Constant Weight with Fins with a dive to 94m (308 feet), as well as U.S. record in Free Immersion with a dive to 87m (285 feet). Breaking more than one record at a competition is rare—the physical and mental effort required for a single record dive is extreme—and this is the first time that multiple U.S. records for both women and men have been broken at a single competition.
Ashley’s and Rob’s dives take around three minutes to complete: imagine swimming for three minutes without breathing, and doing it straight down into the sea. Ashley dives more slowly, demonstrating a Zen-like calm in returning from extraordinary depths; Rob sprints up from depth, speed made possible by years of training in the Alpes. “Diving at Dean’s is a mind game”, says Rob. “Below 150 feet, the water is pitch black--a world of empty of light, sound, or any sensation but the pressure of the sea. It’s like leaving the world of the living. When you finally make it back to the surface, sunlight and air seem sweeter than ever.”
About the Disciplines
In Constant Weight with Fins (CWT), the athlete swims down to a bottom plate and back to the surface using only fins (typically a monofin), on a single breath of air. Viewed by many as the primary depth discipline, CWT requires the athlete to ascend with the same weight as used on descent (no dropping of weights or weighted sleds are permitted). This discipline requires a combination of equalization, compression and anaerobic capacity.
In Free Immersion (FIM), the athlete pulls down the line to a bottom plate and back to the surface--without the use of fins--on a single breath of air. Like CWT, FIM requires the athlete to ascend with the same weight as used on descent, and requires a combination of equalization, compression and anaerobic capacity.
In Constant Weight No Fins (CNF), the athlete swims down to a bottom plate and back to the surface without the use of fins or the rope, on a single breath of air. Though CNF dives are generally shallower than CWT and FIM, they are anaerobically more challenging, as the athlete works harder to swim back to the surface.
About Dean’s Blue Hole
Dean’s Blue Hole is a natural wonder of the world. It is the deepest blue hole in the world, with the bottom lying over 200 meters (660 feet) deep. This natural amphitheater is perfect for world-class freedives and technical diving. After swimming for just a few seconds from the beach, you look directly down into the blackness of the abyss, with nothing between you and bottom of the hole. Dean’s Blue Hole is sheltered from the ocean and wind, allowing access to extraordinary depth year round. Blue holes are sinkholes that occur in or near the ocean, and are called blue holes because of the dark blue color of the water in the deepest area of the hole. Composed of limestone, Dean’s Blue Hole is the result of what geologist call a “cover collapse event”: the roof of a cave collapses and leaves a hole to the surface. Dean’s was created when sea levels were lower, likely during a previous ice age. As sea levels rose, Dean’s was filled in by the sea, creating the world’s best location for competitive freediving.
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