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Sept 17, 2006

US Freediving Organization Completes National Championship with Two New US Records and Three New Australian Records Set.

The United States Apnea Association (USAA) has completed its Freediving National Championships.  The competition was conducted over three days in Kona, Hawaii, USA.  The competition slated competitors to challenge their abilities in breath-hold diving for maximum time, depth, and distance. 

Eleven athletes traveled from as far away as Australia, New Zealand and the Bahamas to join in the competition.  Andy Ross had ear problems and was forced to drop from the competition, choosing to participate in judge’s education instead.  Andy was one of the judges for the competition. 

The competition opened on Friday, September 15, 2006 at Jack’s Diving Locker’s Pool.  Conditions were ideal.  Competitors competed in Static Apnea.  This competition tests the athlete’s ability to hold their breath for time while laying face down on the surface of the shallow end of the pool.  The competitor declares a time they must surpass during their attempt.  They are able to go further than their declared time.  However, they must surface and be able to complete a surface protocol by removing their mask or facial gear, give an okay signal and state, “I am okay.” within fifteen seconds of surfacing. 

Competitors have forty-five minutes to warm up and prepare for their performances.  When the time comes to compete, the athletes receive a two-minute count down.  They must begin their attempt within ten seconds of reaching zero on their count down or they receive penalty points. Safety is checked as the competitor progresses through their hold via signals from the athlete to a safety supervisor that is next to the competitor in the water.

Walter Steyn set a new Australian National Record with a performance of seven minutes and two seconds surfacing cleanly. 

Static Apnea Results

Women

Place    Name               Nationality       AP           RP            Penalty             Points

   1     Annabel Briseno      USA          4:00         6:11          None                 74.2
   2     Jessica Wilson         USA          4:00         6:07          None                 73.4
   3     Juliana Howe           USA          4:30         4:32          None                 54.4
   4     Julie Russell            USA          3:00         3:18          None                 39.6

Men

Place     Name              Nationality       AP             RP            Penalty             Points

* 1     Walter Steyn           AUS          5:30            7:02          None                84.4
   2     Anthony Williams     NZL          5:00            6:47          None                81.4
   3     Craig Gentry           USA          3:00            4:01          None                48.2
   4     Deron Verbeck        USA          6:00            6:13            SP                  0
   4     Glen Garrett           USA           5.00            5:03            BO                 0
   4     Andy Norlander       USA          4:00            4:06            BO                  0

* New Australian Men’s National Record

Day two of the competition was slated for Constant Weight with and without Fins. The athletes would attempt to dive to a declared depth on a single breath of air.  The athletes prior to the competition reported their declared depths.  Competitors test their ability to swim to depth and back with and without fins while keeping all gear in place.  Upon reaching the surface the athlete must complete the surface protocol within fifteen seconds. 

This portion of the competition is the most logistically intense.  The event occurred at Kealakekua Bay off the shores of Kona.  Two vessels provided the platform for the competition.  One of Jack’s Diving Locker’s Boats was used as the competitors’ boat, while the Konaquatica Dive Center provided the platform for the safety scuba support and evacuation boat.  This portion of the competition would not be possible if it were not for the services of the safety scuba divers.

The competition was using a counter balance system for the down line that the athletes would use for their dives.  The athlete wears a safety lanyard that connects them to the down line.  The down line has a large disk on the bottom making it impossible for the athlete to become separated from the down line.  The safety divers have the ability to raise the entire competition line should an athlete be delayed in their return to the surface.  The system is designed to also allow for the entire competition line to be raised to the surface by releasing the weight opposite the competition line connected through the counter balance system.  This weight pulls the opposite end of the competition line through a set of pulleys lifting the competition line and athlete to the surface should anything go wrong. 

Julie “Jewels” Russell set a new US National Record in Constant Ballast without Fins with a depth of 43 meters, 141 feet.  This breaks Annabel Briseno’s old record of 42 meters, 138 feet. She had set this record as a world record at the time.  Annabel stated, “This is a significant dive.  This was a world record, Jewels did a big dive.”  Australian Walter Steyn set another National Record with a no fins dive to 66 meters, 216 feet.  He also established a new Australian National Record in Free Immersion with a depth of 39 meters, 128 feet.

Constant Weight Results

Women CWT

Place     Name               Nationality                        AP             RP            Penalty             Points

   1    Annabel Briseno       USA                             55M            55M          None                 55
   2    Jessica Wilson          USA                             54M            54M          None                 54
   3    Juliana Howe            USA                             52M            52M          None                 52
   4    Julie Russell             USA                             40M            40M          None                 40

Women CNF

Place     Name               Nationality                        AP             RP            Penalty             Points

* 1    Julie Russell              USA                            43M            43M          None                 43

* New US National Women’s Record

Men

Place     Name               Nationality                        AP             RP            Penalty             Points

* 1    Walter Steyn CNF      AUS                            66M            66M            None                66
   2    Anthony Williams      NZL                             86M            73M          -14 Short           59
   3    Craig Gentry            USA                            30M            30M            None                30
   4    Andy Norlander        USA                            57M            33M           -25 Short           8

* New Australian Men’s CNF National Record

National Record Attempt FIM  (New Australian Men’s FIM National Record)

Name                       Nationality                        AP             RP            Penalty                Points
Walter Steyn             AUS                                39M            39M          None                     NA

Day three had the athletes slated to compete in Dynamic with and without Fins. This tests the athlete’s ability to swim underwater as far as they can while holding their breath.  Some of the athletes chose to make attempts without fins as well.  This is an alternative category of competition.  Competitors must surface from their swim completing the surface protocol within fifteen seconds. 

Glen Garrett set a new US National Record in Dynamic No Fins with a performance of 105 meters, 344 feet.  Glen had been training and attempting to break this record for the last two years.  He previously held the record and has recaptured it.  This is his first performance in competition over 100 meters.  This is a very significant milestone for Glen.  Making it even more impressive, Glen a resident of Wyoming is over fifty years old.  Establishing a new senior record at the same time. 

Dynamic with and without Fins Results
Women Dynamic
Place     Name                 Nationality                        AP             RP            Penalty             Points

   1     Jessica Wilson          USA                              50M            110M        None                 55
   2     Annabel Briseno       USA                              40M            106M        None                 53
   3     Juliana Howe            USA                              75M            102M        DQ                    0
   4     Julie Russell             USA                              75M            138M        BO                    0

Women Dynamic No Fins
Place      Name               Nationality                        AP             RP            Penalty             Points

   1     Annabel Briseno       USA                             75M            88M          None                  44
   2     Jessica Wilson          USA                             75M            81M          None                  40.5

Men Dynamic
Place      Name               Nationality                        AP               RP            Penalty           Points

   1     Anthony Williams       NZL                            100M            185M         -5                    87.5
   2     Glen Garrett DNF       USA                            50M             100M          None               50
   3     Craig Gentry             USA                            50M              81M           None               40.5
   4     Andy Norlander         USA                            50M              64M           None               32
   5     Walter Steyn             AUS                            55M             200M          DQ                   0

Men Dynamic No Fins
Place      Name                Nationality                       AP              RP            Penalty             Points
   1     Walter Steyn             AUS                            60M            107M         None                  53.5
 *2     Glen Garrett              USA                            50M            105M         None                  52.5
   3     Craig Gentry             USA                            25M            48M           None                  24
* New US Men’s National Record Dynamic No Fins

Jessica Wilson and Craig Gentry are the 2006 US Freediving National Champions.  Jessica squeezed out a victory over her own mother Annabel by the smallest margin possible, 0.2 points.  This is literally one second of Static performance.  This is the closet margin of victory ever in a US competition.  Craig completed the competition with three solid performances.  By scoring in all three events he was able to secure his victory. 

Craig said, “I was just happy to be here, I had no idea I would have a chance at the championship.  It was a great competition.”

The US Freediving Team is selected based on performances at the US Nationals or any other AIDA Ranking List competition.  The application period will remain open until October 1.  Athletes will apply for membership on the team.  The team will represent the United States at the 2006 Team World Championships in Hurghada, Egypt in December. 

All who participated enjoyed the competition.  Anthony Williams from New Zealand said, “This was one of the best competitions I have ever been in.  I am glad I came.  Thanks mate.”

Final Results

Women

Place    Name                    Nationality           STA           CWT          DYN                      Points

   1     Jessica Wilson            USA                  73.4            54            55                        182.4
   2     Annabel Briseno         USA                  74.2            55            53                        182.2
   3     Juliana Howe              USA                  54.4            52            0                         106.4
   4     Julie Russell               USA                  39.6            40            0                          79.6

Men

Place     Name                   Nationality            STA           CWT          DYN                     Points

   1    Anthony Williams          NZL                  81.4            59            87.5                    227.9
   2    Walter Steyn                AUS                  84.4            66            0                        150.4
   3    Craig Gentry                USA                  48.2            30            40.5                    118.7
   4    Glen Garrett                 USA                    0            DNS            50                      50
   5    Andy Norlander            USA                    0               8              32                      40
NA     Deron Verbeck             USA                    0            Withdrew

National Champion

The competition was officiated over by USAA/AIDA judges Grant W. Graves, Moran Morton, Andy Ross, Deron Verbeck, and Mouna Ghossoub. 

The USAA would like to thank all of the volunteers, staff, organizers, and safety personnel.  The competition would not have been possible without the support of Jack's Diving Locker, The State of Hawaii Department of Land & Natural Resources Division of Boating & Ocean Recreation, County of Hawaii Department of Parks and Recreation Aquatics Division, Big Island Marine, Yamamoto, Doc's Pro Plugs, Dorothy Browne, Glennon Gingo, Jimmy Guerreiro, Melissa Swinson, Rhonda Hilton, Carlos Mazo, Sho go Motoi, Warren, Jim Holt, Nassim Haramein, Leo Mauroka, Keiko Lathrop, Trish Hancock, Darin Geliga, and all other support staff.

The USAA is a non-profit association founded on a democratic representation of freediving within the United States and internationally.  Founded in 2003, the USAA brought together a diverse group of 21 founding members, all interested in the development and growth of freediving.  In just six months, this highly dedicated group was able to create an association recognized as the voice of freediving in the United States by the international community.  The association has grown to one hundred members with continued growth expected.  USAA will be sending a full team to the World Championships in Hurghada, Egypt this December.  For more information about the World Championships please checkout www.aida-egypt.org

The International Association for the Development of Freediving (AIDA) is the international sanctioning body for freediving, individual and team competition, and freediving world record attempts.  AIDA nationals are individual associations that represent freediving and AIDA in their country, similar to Olympic Organizing Committees.  AIDA World Team Championships will be occurring in the beginning of December of this year in Hurghada, Egypt.  For more information about AIDA check out http://www.aida-international.org or about the AIDA World Team Championships check out www.apneaegypt.com

Contact Information:

Grant W. Graves, President
United States Apnea Association, USAA

3642 Seahorn Dr.
Malibu, CA 90265
Email: makog@aol.com
Phone: 310-560-6104

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Pictures provided by Rebecca Garrett, Deron Verbeck, Tec Clark and Jon Zeaman.