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What is Freediving? Highlights From Roatan’s Caribbean Cup

 

When it comes to living on the ocean, watersports rank high on the list of recreational activities.  And while there are many watersports that aren’t competitive, there’s something about testing yourself against others that adds a new dimension to activities of any type.  Most watersports started out as a technique to aid in the navigation of bodies of water and exploit those watery environments for human advantage.  Freediving is one of these.  What is freediving?  Highlights from Roatan’s Caribbean Cup can help tell the story.

 

Where Did Freediving Originate?

Freediving probably didn’t actually start out as a sport.  It was used by coastal dwelling humans thousands of years ago to help harvest food from the ocean.  By simply holding their breath and swimming to the ocean floor, ancient humans were able to gather up bottom dwelling plants and creatures that they could add to their diet.  This farming of the ocean floor required skill, technique and plenty of practice.Roatan Caribbean Cup

 

When Did Freediving Become Competitive?

Freediving is very likely to have been competitive from the very start.  However, in modern times, the 1960s saw scientists associated with the US Navy trying to push the boundaries of how long a human could stay underwater.  These techniques were being investigated in order to help sailors escape from damaged submarines.  A freediving pioneer, named Bob Croft, was able to train himself to hold his breath for over 6 minutes and dive deeper than 64 meters – what was once thought to be the physiological underwater depth limit for humans.  The competition for attaining world records in diving depth and breath holding had begun.

 

How Do You Get Into Freediving?

The first free divers got into the sport because of necessity.  They were diving for food, treasures or items lost overboard.  People who have lived on the water for thousands of years have passed down freediving techniques throughout the generations.  But these days, if you don’t come from a family that’s been diving for eons, you can take freediving course to allow you to safely learn the proper techniques.  There’s not a lot of necessary equipment, but because any mistakes could be fatal, the knowledge gained from taking a course could save your life.

 

The Caribbean Cup Roatan Freediving Competition

The Caribbean Cup Roatan Freediving Competition was established in 2013 and has become one of the most influential freediving competitions in the world.  Every year competitors from all over the world congregate in West Bay on the Honduran island of Roatan to test their mettle in a variety of different events.  The annual competition is organized by the Roatan Freediving School & Training Center and is endorsed by the underwater sports and science federation, CMAS (Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques,) and AIDA International (Association Internationale pour le Développement de l’Apnée,) a record keeping organization that sets standards for competitive breath holding contests.

 

Caribbean Cup 2019

The 2019 version of the Caribbean Cup occurred from August 1-5 and was headquartered at the San Simon Beach Club in West Bay.  The competition included four disciplines:  Free Immersion (FIM,) Constant Weight No Fins (CNF,) Constant Weight With Mono Fins (CWT,) and Constant Weight With Bi Fins (CWB.)  60 divers from 24 different countries took part in the competition this year.

 

A Record Breaking Year

Four new world records were achieved at the 7th edition of the Caribbean Cup.  On the first day of the competition, Alessia Zecchini of Italy achieved a new world record in CNF by reaching a depth of 73 meters.  This broke her old record of 70 meters which she had shared with Nataliia Zharkova of the Ukraine since October 2018.

 

Zharkova managed to keep her name in the record book by reaching a depth of 91 meters in the CWB event.  This broke the old record of 89 meters which has also stood since 2018.

 

Slovenian Alenka Artnik achieved a world record in CWT by reaching a depth of 111 meters.  The previous record of 107 meters had been held by Alessia Zecchini since 2018.  However, Zecchini regained the CWT world record a day later by diving down to 112 meters.

 

On the male side of the competition, Russian Alexey Molchanov, achieved a CWB record by reaching a depth of 110 meters.

 

Sounds like something you would be interested in watching? Plan your vacation to Roatan in 2020 when the Caribbean Cup will be taking place!

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