Vertical Blue 2015

Dean’s Blue Hole

Post from my favorite freediving competition: Vertical Blue (2015 edition). Long Island (Bahamas) looks like a travel brochure: empty white sand beaches, with locals who welcome you like family. We dive in Dean’s Blue Hole: the size of an Olympic swimming pool, Dean’s plunges to a depth of 202m (662 feet), only feet from shore. Every Vertical Blue is different. This year started hot: athletes in swimsuits Days 1-4, with crystal clear water. Then cold: the front end of a tropical storm Days 6-7–windy, rainy, feeling like December. And little ones: Alma Thelaus and Nefali Money (both toddlers) cheering on the divers from shore. World-class athletes and amazing dives, in the sport’s only onshore amphitheater. Competing for medals were Sayuri Kinoshita, Tomoka Fukuda, Katerina Linczenyiova, Sofia Gomez, my girlfriend Karla Mendez, and Misuzu Okamoto; Will Trubridge, Ryuzo Shinomiya, Alejandro Lemus, Johnny Sunnex, Johan Dahlstrom, and first timers Adam Stern and Dean Chaouche.

Free Immersion with Sandfall

The women impressed–national records more dives than not–Sayuri taking gold, Tomoka silver and Kate bronze. Misuzu topped most of the men (myself included), reaching 92m with her monofin (chapeau). Will posted his usual outrageous numbers for men’s gold. Six of us should have competed for silver and bronze, but no one looked in-form. Ryuzo locked up second with some solid early dives, Alejandro moving into third on the final day. I finished fourth: should have done better, but could have done worse. Dean took fifth place, impressing everyone with some great dives.
I played catch up–training dives Days 1 and 3–but bagged another national record on Day 5: first American to 90m (296 feet) free immersion (pulling down and up the rope). I passed on diving during the storm (Days 6 and 7), coming back with 90m constant weight on Day 8, and 61m no fins Day 9. Close, but no cigar: Alejandro hit his dive late on Day 9 to take bronze. Disappointed to miss the podium, but happy with the record, and to be the first American to hit 90m in constant weight and free immersion in the same comp (Nick and I had each come close a few times).
To sum up VB 2015 in a word: fun. Great friends, great diving, with conditions going from summer to winter, and back again.. Kudos to Will for moving it back to April!

Free Immersion Descent