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Flashback on Sharm el Sheikh Freediving World Competition - 22-26 sept. 2020 - Covid19 edition

I've been waiting a lot for a freediving competition to happen in a place that would allow a Swiss guy flying from Egypt and fortunately this moment happend. Most of freediving competitions had been cancelled due to the pandemic but since the covid situation in South Sinai is pretty under control since august, Andrea Zuccari from Freediving World, took on him with his team to organise an international freediving competition in Sharm el Sheikh where i live. I felt lucky and grateful.

Again because of the pandemic, my training in the sea had to be left aside. Egyptian authorities had close the access to the water and i could start training only around the end of august, which is/was very short to pull myself back to my best depths... meaning a little deeper than 80 meters so far. Also, i had to plan an interruption in the middle of my training to make a fast up and down to Switzerland in order to gather my new freediving equipment, meet my beloved sponsors from the Association Taiji Quan la Côte and give a speech in the Caisse d'Epargne de la Riviera about crisis management.

Check the video i presented there:

Not an easy way definitely. Training was hard and to jump this fast from 60 to 80m was risky, even if safety measures from Freediving World are close to the best one can expect. Also, i had to leave aside the no fin training in order to focus only in FIM, CWT and mostly CWTB.

To train simultaneously 4 disciplines is very hard since they require different muscular groups and different mind setups. Freediving is not like bicycle and even if one knows he dove to these depths already, fear may come back and sensations of the tiny details may have been forgotten. But ok, after a few training only, i could make it back to 80 meters... in a bit of a drafty way i admit. I did not felt really prepared and had to count with my abilities to go beyond on the critical moments. During training, i also had to face difficulties with my bifins. One pair features blades that were and still are a little to soft and unfortunately the second pair newly designed for me features footpockets that are to big... which, considering the size of my feet is pretty incredible. But ok, i chose to do the comp with the soft ones because even if they would make me loose some time on my average speed, they definitely were and are very comfortable for my legs. I can reach surface without burning legs and this feels very new to me. A very good surprise indeed... Dry training is the key: zen meditation, dry equalisation and stretching Another difficulty of mine is that i don't have the finances to pay for a lot of trainings in the sea and i'm then forced to invest much more into dry training and mental preparation. I did a lot of meditation, a lot of dry equalisation exercises with otovent, bubble tower and Uba EQ tool and stretched my ribcage more than i ever did before. And that pays... when the comp started, i was able of pretty huge inhalations, packing everyday more and more air in my lungs and cheeks to equalise safely all the way down to what i wanted to achieve. Also, and this may be one of my little secrets, i builded myself precise audio recordings of my watches depth alarms to integrate also unconsciously the exact timing of my dives. I do have a little pride to match my announced dive time at the exact second... which was almost the case during the competition.

The competition starts: family life and daily duties

Most athletes, if not all, were lodge in the classy hotel next to the dive center. In my case, i still had to bring my daughter to school, do my best to help with homeworks and so on. I then wish here to particularly thank my wife Hira Hosen and my daughter Mahatma for handling the situation with perfect mastery and compassion. I could use our scooter to go do my dives without having to bicycle there and they left me all the space i needed to do my stretching even until late in the night. That went great and i am very blessed and fortunate to share my life with such a wonderful family.

First competiton day: Constant weight bifins. Announced performance 80m in 2'46'' Here i go. I was mostly triggered by trying to beat my Swiss National Record of 76m registered in 2019, also because i wanted to show that my Go N Sea bifins are suitable for depth competition.... and they totally are.

My equalisation was a little drafty but thank to all the stretching and meditation i did i could reach the bottom, catch the precious tag and bring it back to surface. That was for me a tough and not this easy dive and i remember, while waiting for the judge Pim Vermeulen to pull his white card, to have had difficulty to understand why and how he could remain this relax while i was catching my breath. I was a little disoriented. But the white card came and then this new Swiss Constant Weight Bifins record was achieved. Joy... but tired, almost washed away. I had to recognise that i missed some training week to do that easily.

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Second competiton day: Free Immersion. Announced Performance 85m in 3'16'' Let's go again, no day off to properly recover and here again i'm going for a Swiss National record, hoping i could add a little meter to what i did in 2019. Stupidly, i lost time bragging on social network and could not properly sleep. I then arrived at the official line tired and maybe not focused enough. Starting my dive all went easy but while reaching 50m i uncarefully swallowed my mouthfill (technic where the freediver fills his cheeks with air before a certain depth in order to equalise without moving the diaphragma and lungs which can be dangerous at such depths). Instead of stopping there and aborting the dive, i stayed very calm and decided to reverse pack the deepest i could. I then had to ondulate my diaphragma and constrict my trachea in order to regurgitate the air swallowed back in my lungs. I could do that quite a way down but arrived at 79m, i could not follow the rythm of the descent and felt my ears calling for mercy. I looked down, saw the plate just here... but ok, better to keep my eardrum and abort the dive than to risk my health for a futile victory. I turned and went back easily to surface. I got a yellow card and this made me loose points on the overall competition ranking.

Annouced performance 85 --> Depth reach 79m --> 79 minus 6 points of penalty = 73 points

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Overall ranking of Freediving World competition Covid19 special edition

The announced goal of the competition was to score in the overall. 4 disciplines for 4 dives. The freediver who would score the best in all disciplines taken together would win. National records are personal business and to win the overall suggest that one must calculate his points and check the results of others, which is an exercise i never got into before. I then started to think and calculate. What to do? Do i try that Free Immersion National Record again or do i just continue with another discipline? Surprisingly enough it took me my entire day off to decide to just try an 85m deep constant weight dive which, if i would succeed with it, would lead to the registration of a new Swiss National record in that discipline but also give me a chance to stay on the track of the overall ranking. The only problem is that i never dove to that depth before and that it was pretty tough to achieve 80m. Beyond, beyond... and beyond the beyond. I resettled my depth alarms to match a more unconscious way of diving and went deep inside myself through more stretching, visualisations and meditation... added to prayers. I rested the way i could and tried to stop doubting. Third day: Constant Weight. Announced performance 85m in 2'59'' Am i ready to jump beyond? no one can know but one thing is sure... i feel vulnerable. So i check my phone hoping someone sent my some encouraging message and discovered with sadness that a good friend of mine decided to choose that moment to send me a fully denigrating message that left me with a broken heart.

"Pathetic insignificant monk with no great interest, i wish i never meet you again of my entire life."

Bang, aouch! I wished him the best in answer, not willing to understand why i deserved such a message and left my home for the comp. The sentence was turning in my head and i tried my best to avoid this inner awful chanting. I resisted what i could and hopefully, few minutes before entering the water i recognised and accepted. Indeed i am a pathetic insignificant monk with no great interest. I surrendered, recognised, rested on that recognition and entered the water. I remember almost seeing the aura of my healing heart and believed that if a picture would have been taken of me at this moment, one could have seen the light my heart was producing while entering a state of redemption. I kept silent and used that depth of inner reflexion to enter deeper into my subconscious and went for the dive in a fully meditative state. It felt easy, really easy and leaving the weight of that newly packed karma on the surface was the boost i actually needed to succeed. Not that i like to be treated that way, be clearly warned, but the monk and the skilled freediver i am could make that jump beyond and to achieve these 85 meters felt more easy than the previous dive to 80. Surfacing, my watch announced a dive time of 2'58''... perfect. White card, explosion of joy... i registered a new national record for Switzerland and putted myself on the pole position for winning the overall. Super happy... i did it, my Go N Sea fins did it... we all did it.

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Fourth day: Announced performance in No Fins 50m 2'06'' Because of my lack of training in CNF i was not allowed to announce more than 51m for safety reasons. Calculations done, the newly born Egyptian National multirecords holder is behind me with only 10 points. How deep will he go? How deep should i go? Will i make it with a dive i failed at training? I quieted my mind, realised the futility of competition and simply went for what is supposedly easy for me, meaning 50 meters. He announced 54m. The dive was smooth, easy and well done. White card...

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We had a smily look at eachother, a blink of an eye. Competition in freediving is cool because real freedivers are cool people... no one is here to beat the others but simply to give his or her best. Overall victory. My very first victory in a competition.

Thank you all for reading this and thank you deep for your support.

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