29th AIDA World Championship
Asya Kleshchevnikova, Sports Columnist
Head of Customer Service & International Sales
1. Preview of the World Championship
2. CWTB - Women (August 17th)
2.1 New AIDA World Record in CWTB by Marianna Gillespie
3. CWTB - Men (August 18th)
4. FIM - Women (August 19th)
5. FIM - Men (August 20th)
6. CNF - Women (August 21st)
7. CNF - Men (August 22nd)
8. CWT - Women (August 23rd)
9. CWT - Men (August 24th)
Preview of the World Championship
On August 17th, the AIDA Depth World Championship begins on the island of Roatán, Honduras. It is the 29th world championship event AIDA has arranged in its 30 years of existence if we count depth, pool, and team competitions.
What is a freediving World Championship?
In most kinds of sports (except football and motorsports), world championship events are the second biggest worldwide competition after the Olympic Games. Freediving isn't an Olympic sport, so world championships are the highest level of competition for freedivers. They are always held as world-record status events, which means that there are judges present who are qualified to register world records and provide doping control. The 29th AIDA World Championship is no exception to this rule.
Athletes will compete in four disciplines of depth freediving: CWT (diving with a monofin), CWTB (diving with bifins), FIM (pulling down/up using the dive line), and CNF (diving without fins). Men and women will compete on separate days.
Each athlete has one attempt in each discipline, which puts extra pressure on the athletes. They have just one shot at winning or losing - if an athlete loses, their next chance to redeem themselves will be next year. Therefore, athletes should be mindful of their bids and generally announce conservatively, aiming for depths they have no problem reaching.
The Championship is taking place on the island of Roatán in the Caribbean Sea. Diving conditions are nearly perfect there:
- Roughly 30°C (86°F) water temperature
- No thermocline
- Visibility of up to 30m (98ft)
- Dive spot with a depth of 189m (620ft) just 1km (0.6mi) away from shore
Photo by Evgeny Sychev
If the weather is calm and there are no waves, strong winds, and current, diving conditions can be compared with the conditions that Dean's Blue Hole in the Bahamas provides. Roatán even has an extra advantage - light. The open sea isn't as dark as the vertical underwater cave of Dean's Blue Hole, which may ease the narcosis athletes experience at depth (usually stronger in the darkness).
The main disadvantage of the open sea location is unpredictability. In the open sea, diving conditions may completely change within an hour. For situations of extreme weather changes, there is always one backup day in the depth world championships schedule.
Who will participate?
There are not many participants this year. So far, only about 60 athletes from 24 countries have confirmed their presence. In comparison, despite all the complications caused by the pandemic last year, there were 125 athletes from 35 countries.
This is perhaps the first time that no current world record holder is participating in the Championship. There are several reasons for such a small number of athletes participating this year. First of all, the Championship is squeezed between two other significant freediving events - Vertical Blue 2022, which has just ended, and the CMAS Freediving Outdoor World Championship, which will take place in October in Kaş, Turkey. This means that athletes must choose which two competitions to compete in. Participation in all three events might be too exhausting and difficult to arrange since most athletes also have full-time jobs in addition to their freediving activities.
Secondly, the AIDA Depth World Championship, against AIDA's own rules, was announced just three months before the event. According to the AIDA rules (paragraph 14.1.1), World Championships should be announced no later than six months before the event. The late announcement and remote location of the Championship didn't make the task of getting to the Championship any easier on the athletes.
Still, there are several talented athletes whose performances we are looking forward to seeing.
First of all, we have Fatima Korok (HUN). Fatima moved to Roatán directly from Vertical Blue 2022, where she won the overall women’s competition and was just 1m (3ft) away from an absolute world record in FIM. Fatima has a good chance at setting a new world record in the Championship. Jennifer Wendland (DEU) is a former world record holder in CWTB with an official personal best of 93m (305ft) in the discipline. Perhaps she will attempt a dive to 97m (318ft) and steal the AIDA World Record in CWTB from Alice Modolo (FRA). World champion Marianna Gillespie (FRA) will attempt to win the overall ranking and receive the Natalia Molchanova Award for the third time in a row.
Marianna Gillespie, Jennifer Wendland, Fatima Korok
Among the men, Walid Boudhiaf (TUN) and Abdelatif Alouach (FRA) are the brightest names. Walid is the current AIDA World Record Holder in the non-competitive discipline VWT (he dived with a sled to 150m/492ft) and is also Vice-champion in FIM with a personal best of 116m (381ft). Abdelatif has also held the title of Vice-champion multiple times and is a previous recipient of the Natalia Molchanova Award. He is capable of setting a new AIDA World Record in CWTB, as his current official personal best of 116m is only 4m (13ft) less than the current world record in the discipline.
Abdelatif Alouach, Walid Boudhiaf
This all means that there can potentially be at least three new AIDA World Records on the Championship and new names on the list of world record holders.
On each competition day, we will share with you the names of winners, the brightest moments of the day, and every new successful world record. Stay tuned, and don't miss out on the news from Roatán!
New AIDA World Record in CWTB
On the first competition day at the 29th AIDA World Championship, Marianna Gillespie (FRA) set a new AIDA World Record in CWTB diving to 97m (318ft) of depth. Congratulations!
The achieved result is 1m (3ft) deeper than the previous AIDA World Record in CWTB set just two weeks ago by another French athlete, Alice Modolo (FRA), at Vertical Blue 2022. The world record in CWTB according to CMAS rules is still much deeper - 106m (348ft). It was set by Alenka Artnik (SVN) in 2021 in Kaş, Turkey.
Marianna is an experienced Russian-born freediver and athlete, and her career as a competitive freediver started in 2012. During these past 10 years, Marianna performed 111 dives at 51 competitions, earning 101 white cards and multiple medals, awards, and titles. Marianna’s collection includes, among others, the gold overall medal at Vertical Blue 2014, the World Champion title at the AIDA World Championship in 2019 and 2021, and two Natalia Molchanova awards.
Photo by Luke Coley
However, this world record was the first one for Marianna. We gladly congratulate all freediving fans with a new name on the list of world record holders and Marianna with her new status. We wish you luck, Marianna, in setting an absolute world record one day!
CWTB - Women (August 17th)
On the first competition day at the 29th AIDA World Championship in Roatán, 19 women competed in the CWTB discipline. The depth range was from 31-97m (102-318ft) of depth. According to AIDA rules, athletes may announce a depth that is a maximum of 5m (16ft) beyond a depth they have achieved within the last three months. However, at world championship events, athletes usually avoid pushing their limits anyways and only dive at depths they confidently reached in their training sessions.
Thanks to the conservative approach of the athlete announcements, on the first day, there were 14 white cards, 1 yellow card for an early turn, 1 red card for surface protocol, and 1 red card for an alleged dolphin kick.
National, Continental, World Records
The good news is that on the first day of competition, seven out of eight record attempts were successful.
Four athletes managed to set AIDA National Records in CWTB for their countries:
- Hou I Ming (TPE) - 65m/213ft
- Agata Załęcka (POL) - 62m/203ft
- Amber Bourke (AUS) - 62m
- Janita Kulkula (FIN) - 41m/135ft
Two athletes set AIDA Continental Records by diving with bifins to deeper depths than any other woman on their continent:
- Natalie Rudman (ZAF) - 72m/236ft - AIDA Continental Record of Africa
- Enchante Gallardo (USA) - 88m/289ft - AIDA Continental Record of North America
Natalie Rudman (ZAF) has improved the African continental record by 1m (3ft). The previous Continental Record in CWTB of Africa was recently set by Talya Davidoff (ZAF) on August 9th at Vertical Blue 2022. After Vertical Blue 2022, Talya had four AIDA Continental Records in all the depth disciplines. Now, Natalie has added a bit of diversity to the list.
On the contrary, Enchante Gallardo (USA) picked up the dive line where she left it at Vertical Blue 2022 and continued to improve the results she achieved in the Bahamas. On the first day of Vertical Blue 2022, Enchante dived with bifins to 85m (279ft) of depth and set a new AIDA National Record for the USA. At that same competition, Sheena McNally (CAN) also tried to improve upon her own previous CWTB AIDA Continental Record two separate times but did not manage. However, Enchante didn't miss the opportunity to try her luck at the AIDA Depth World Championship - her bifins took her to a depth of 88m (289ft), which is 1m (3ft) deeper than Sheena dived in 2021 - and set a new AIDA Continental Record of North America.
Enchante Gallardo, photo by Luke Coley
And finally, Marianna Gillespie (FRA) dived to 97m (318ft) of depth, which became the deepest dive in the world performed by a woman with bifins according to AIDA rules. The achieved result is 1m (3ft) deeper than the previous AIDA World Record in CWTB set just two weeks ago by another French athlete, Alice Modolo (FRA), at Vertical Blue 2022. According to CMAS rules, the CWTB World Record is still much deeper - 106m (348ft). It was set by Alenka Artnik (SVN) in 2021 in Kas, Turkey.
AIDA rules vs. Athletes
On the first competition day, Şahika Ercümen (TUR) was also on the list of new National Record holders. After Vertical Blue 2022, where Şahika set three new AIDA National Records for Turkey in the CWT, CNF, and FIM disciplines, she decided to also improve upon her official CWTB performance.
Şahika dived smoothly with bifins to 83m (272ft) of depth, confidently performed the surface protocol, received a white card, and was already celebrating a new national record when the judges swapped her white card for a red card after watching the video of her dive.
Şahika Ercümen, photo by Luke Coley
During the video review, judges noted a sign of a dolphin kick right below the surface when the athlete began her dive. However, it seems to be uncertain. On the one hand, it could indeed be considered half of a dolphin kick. On the other hand, she did not complete a full cycle of the dolphin kick since it was just the beginning of her dive. Upon hearing the judges’ new verdict, Şahika protested the disqualification, but they ultimately judged against the athlete and reaffirmed her red card. It seems that the judges justified their decision by the strict AIDA rule:
“In the CWTB the athlete is prohibited to use a dolphin kick for his / her propulsion, using a dolphin kick while wearing bifins will result in disqualification (DQOTHER).”
In this situation, we can’t help but compare the AIDA rules with the corresponding CMAS rule:
“In bi-fins events, it is not only the fins that matter, but also the swimming style: no dolphin kick is allowed except for one (one cycle up and down) in the 3-meter zone of the turning zone.”
The above CMAS rule is less strict and may seem less clear; however, in practice, it helps to avoid misjudgment in such ambiguous situations.
Nevertheless, the situation cannot be influenced anymore. We hope Şahika isn't too discouraged by the judges' decision and will continue to compete in good spirits. We also continue to hope that one day, AIDA rules will become more similar to CMAS rules so as to work in the athletes' favor.
Winners and further competition plans
The AIDA World Champion in CWTB among women became Marianna Gillespie (FRA) with a 97m (318ft) performance.
Jennifer Wendland (DEU), with a result of 92m (302ft), became Vice-champion in CWTB. In July 2021, Jennifer set her first AIDA World Record by diving with bifins to 93m (305ft) of depth. One year later, Alice Modolo (FRA) improved Jennifer’s record by 3m (10ft) at Vertical Blue 2022. In theory, Jennifer is quite capable of fighting for the world record with Alice and Marianna. Unfortunately, on the way to Roatán, Jennifer contracted COVID-19 and had to spend two weeks before the Championship in isolation and recovery with no opportunity to train. We wish you better luck time, Jennifer!
Jennifer Wendland, photo by Luke Coley
The new AIDA Continental Record Holder Enchante Gallardo (USA) is in third place in the discipline with a bronze medal in hand.
Congratulations to all the new National, Continental, and World Record Holders!
This is all the news we have of the first competition day at the 29th AIDA World Championship. The second day, August 18th, will be the men's turn to compete in the CWTB discipline. We had hoped for a world record attempt by Abdelatif Alouach (FRA), whose personal best in CWTB is 116m (381ft), just 4m (13ft) less than the current world record in the discipline. However, according to the start list, no world record attempts are announced.
Due to the 9-hour time difference with Roatán, the results of the second competition day will be published on August 19th. Stay tuned!
CWTB - Men (August 18th)
On August 18th, the second competition day of the 29th AIDA World Championship continued with the men competing in CWTB. The day was one of the calmest competition days with depths ranging from 44m - 111m (144 - 364ft). Perfect diving conditions and moderate announcements mean that not a single blackout occurred. During the broadcast, only 2 out of the 19 competitors turned early and received yellow cards. However, one of the yellow cards changed to red after judges reviewed the dive footage.
National and Continental records
Leyva Alvarez Jordan (CUB) was heading with bifins to 80m (262ft) of depth to set a new AIDA National Record for Cuba, but turned back at 66m (217ft) and received a yellow card. His was the yellow card that was later changed to red - he made a double pull on the dive line after the bottom turn. His was the only red card of the day. We wish Leyva better luck next time with the national record.
New AIDA National records for Finland and Poland in CWTB were set successfully. Matti Eronen (FIN) and Rafał Poliwoda (POL) dived with bifins to 71m (233ft) and 87m (285ft) of depth, respectively.
Our special congratulations go to the two new AIDA Continental Record Holders, Walid Boudhiaf (TUN) and Alejandro Llinas (COL).
Walid is a very experienced athlete - he has been participating in AIDA competitions since 2007. Walid holds AIDA National Records for Tunisia in all freediving disciplines. Last year, in the non-competitive Variable Weight (VWT) discipline, Walid reached 150m (492ft) of depth with a sled and emerged with a monofin - his dive became a new AIDA World record in VWT. Among competitive disciplines, Walid is mainly focused on FIM. With his official personal best of 116m (381ft), he is 7th in the world rankings in this discipline.
Walid Boudhiaf, photo by Luke Coley
However, Walid's performance in CWTB seems to be his first official dive with bifins according to AIDA rules. 101m (331ft) of depth and a new AIDA Continental Record of Africa in CWTB is not a bad result for his first time. According to CMAS rules, Walid previously dived to 103m (338ft) with bifins last year at the CMAS Freediving Outdoor World Championship in Kaş, Turkey.
Llinas Alejandro (COL), on the contrary, is relatively new to freediving. He started to compete in AIDA competitions in 2019. In May 2022, he was second in the AIDA national ranking for Colombia in the CWTB discipline with a result of 72m (236ft). On the second competition day of the Championship, Alejandro dived to 96m (315ft) and set a new AIDA Continental Record for South America. Such great progress for a short time and a successful debut at the world championship. Congratulations, Alejandro!
Llinas Alejandro, photo by Luke Coley
Winners and further competition plans
The deepest dive of the day at 111m (364ft) was performed Abdelatif Alouach (FRA). This means that Abdel is the new AIDA World Champion in CWTB. Congratulations, Champion!
Abdelatif is famous for his CWTB dives. He started to compete according to AIDA rules in 2019, and at AIDA Depth World Championship in 2019 (when CWTB wasn't yet recognized as a separate discipline), he performed with bifins in the CWT discipline and dived to 110m (361ft). He quickly reached records among the world's best, making him one of the top three athletes in CWTB together with current AIDA World Record Holder Arnaud Jerald (FRA) and previous World Record Holder Alexey Molchanov (RUS). In 2021, at the CMAS Freediving Outdoor World Championship, Abdelatif shared world champion status in CWTB with Arnaud when both athletes dived to 116m (381ft).
Abdel's superpower is tremendous resistance to hypoxia. It allows him to swim very slowly and relaxed, using stiff bifins and making wide and powerful kicks. Abdel does not mind how much CO₂ his muscles produce, and it seems that this year, Abdel reached a new level of relaxation during his performance - his dive to 111m (364ft) lasted for 4:04, while last year, Abdel dived to 116m (381ft) for 3:53.
New AIDA Continental Record Holders Walid Boudhiaf and Alejandro Llinas follow Abdel, receiving silver and bronze medals correspondingly.
This is all the news we have for the second competition day. On August 19th, the women will compete in the FIM discipline. Among the women, we have several strong athletes with quite close results of around 90m (295ft), and the race for medals and World Champion status may be intense. Don’t miss it and stay tuned for news of the third competition day!
FIM - Women and Men (August 19-20th)
On the third and fourth competition days at the 29th AIDA World Championship, athletes competed in the free immersion discipline (FIM), touching down at depth by pulling themselves down and up the dive line. In general, FIM is the calmest and easiest discipline because there is no chance of making a technical mistake underwater, such as the forbidden dolphin kick in CWTB or an illegal pull of the dive line in other disciplines. And while the women continued to perform with the same moderation and elegant style as they did on the first competition day, the men decided to keep us on the edges of our seats.
Women’s results in FIM
Among the 19 female competitors, there was not a single blackout. All athletes performed their dives and returned to the surface fully conscious. However, there were only two early turns - the first one ended with a yellow card (Janita Kulkula FIN). The second early turn ended with a red card because Hua Yun Wu (TPE) didn't perform the surface protocol.
The depth range was from 40 - 93m (131 - 305ft) of depth, and the deepest dive of the day was performed Fatima Korok (HUN). The athlete dived to 93m (305ft) of depth and became the AIDA World Champion in FIM. Congratulations, Fatima!
Fatima doesn't have any serious rivals in FIM at the Championship. Her official personal best, reached at Vertical Blue 2022, is 100m (328ft). The depth is just 1m (3ft) less than the absolute world record in FIM, set by Alessia Zecchini (ITA) according to CMAS rules at Vertical Blue 2021. We hoped that Fatima might have attempted to set a new World Record in FIM at the Championship, yet it seems that the athlete decided not to risk the Champion title and played it safe. She announced 93m (305ft) of depth and performed a beautiful dive.
Fatima Korok; photo by Roatan Freediving School & Training Center
The two Vice-champions in FIM, Enchante Gallardo (USA) and Şahika Ercümen (TUR) continued to improve their official personal bests. Both athletes participated at Vertical Blue 2022 and attempted to conquer 90m (295ft) of depth in FIM several times, but failed. Fortunately, the women weren't afraid to try their luck with the only FIM dive they could perform at the Championship. Their bravery paid off - Enchante and Şahika successfully dived to 90m of depth, performed a clean surface protocol, and set a new AIDA Continental Record for North America and a new AIDA National Record for Turkey, respectively. Congratulations!
Enchante Gallardo; photo by Roatan Freediving School & Training Center
Other new Continental and National Records in FIM were set by the following athletes:
- Natalie Rudman 71m/233ft - New AIDA National Record of Africa
- Marianna Gillespie 82m/269ft - New AIDA National Record of France
- I Ming Hou 60m/197ft - New AIDA National Record of Taiwan
- Ana Rivera 40m/131ft - New AIDA National Record of Honduras
Men’s results in FIM
The depth range of men’s dives in FIM varied from 43 - 116m (141 - 381ft). 16 out of 19 performances were successful and ended with white cards, while the other three dives ended with one yellow card and two red cards.
The competition in FIM among men started with a dramatic underwater blackout performed by a Russian-born athlete from Australia - Victor Korsun (AUS). Victor announced 88m (289ft) of depth, which was 5m (16ft) deeper than his official personal best result. Victor successfully reached the bottom plate and ripped off the tag, but about 3m (10ft) beneath the surface, he lost his consciousness. Underwater blackouts at the World Championship lead to disqualification until the end of the Championship.
Victor Korsun; photo by Roatan Freediving School & Training Center
Another red card was soon given to Jay Ku (TPE). The athlete performed very successfully at Vertical Blue 2022, setting several Continental and National records. For this FIM dive, Jay announce 105m (344ft) of depth, which was just 1m (3ft) less than his recently-reached official personal best. Jay performed the dive confidently; however, on the surface, he spent the precious 15 seconds looking for judges to perform the surface protocol in their full view. As a result, he received a red card and was disqualified. This cost Jay a bronze medal at the Championship. We hope you see you on the pedestal next time, Jay!
This year, the bronze medal went to Nicolas Jaouen (FRA), who performed a 101m (331ft) dive without any technical mistakes.
In second place with a silver medal is Abdelatif Alouach (FRA), who dived to 109m (358ft) of depth for 3:54. Oddly enough, it was the same amount of time it took Walid Boudhiaf (TUN) to perform a 116m (381ft) dive. For Abdel, the dive was 2m (7ft) less than his personal best result in the discipline - the athlete looked relaxed and calm all the while. However, Abdel couldn't hold back tears of happiness after the judge showed him a white card.
Abdelatif Alouach; photo by Luke Coley
Walid's dive looked complicated and, thinking back to his previous unexpected blackouts, it was nerve-wracking to watch his dive. However, Walid successfully repeated the personal best that he reached at Vertical Blue 2017 and confidently managed with the surface protocol. Congratulations, Champion!
Walid Boudhiaf; photo by Luke Coley
And only two men managed to set new AIDA National Records in FIM:
- Alejandro Llinas - 100m/328ft - AIDA National Record of Colombia
- Jordan Leyva Alvarez - 76m/249ft - AIDA Natioanl Record of Cuba
Congratulations to all the athletes! On this, half of the Championship is over. In the upcoming days, we will see athletes compete in one of the most complicated disciplines - diving without fins (CNF) and diving with monofin (CWT), with CWT being one of the deepest disciplines athletes can compete in. Stay tuned!
CNF - Women (August 21st)
On the fifth competition day at the 29th AIDA World Championship, women competed in the CNF discipline by trying to dive as deep as possible without fins. CNF is the most challenging and demanding discipline on an athlete's physical strength, state of mind, and swimming technique. Athletes don't have any help from fins or the dive line - they can only count on their own stamina. It's no wonder that since 2015, when Natalia Molchanova (RUS) became the first woman in the world who dived below 70m (230ft) without fins, females' results in CNF have only improved by a mere 3m (10ft). At Vertical Blue 2021, Alessia Zecchini (ITA) dived to 74m (243ft) according to CMAS rules, and according to AIDA rules, she also has the world record in CNF with 73m (240ft), which was set at Vertical Blue 2018.
Unfortunate red and yellow cards
At this World Championship, the depth of women's CNF dives ranges from 35 - 67m (115 - 220ft) of depth. The day started confidently with white cards, and among the first six dives, only one early turn was made by Yukine Toshinaga (JPN). Şahika Ercümen (TUR) announced 60m (197ft) of depth, but decided to have some rest and skipped a day. If she had dived, as the following events of the day proved, Şahika might have gotten the bronze medal with her announcement.
The seventh performance of the day was also the deepest one. Fatima Korok (HUN) announced 67m (220ft) of depth - a new personal best and new AIDA National Record for Hungary. Although Fatima's previous official personal best in CNF was 62m (203ft), during her training sessions, Fatima reached 70m (230ft) of depth. The dive to 67m (220ft) was supposed to be an easy one for the athlete; however, on Diveye footage, we could see that, on the turn, Fatima pulled on the dive line a bit outside of the permitted zone. It would eventually lead to her disqualification after judges reviewed the dive footage. In addition to that, about 5m (16ft) before the surface, the energy seemed to leave Fatima. She grabbed the dive line and lost consciousness right before reaching the surface. It was dramatic to watch, but we sympathize you, Fatima - get well soon!
The next challenger for the deepest dive of the day was Amber Bourke (AUS) with the same announcements as Fatima - 67m (220ft). In theory, for Amber, the dive also should not have been complicated. Amber had previously dived to 68m (223ft) of depth for the first time at Caribbean Cup 2017, setting a new AIDA National Record for Australia. It placed her fourth in the world ranking in the discipline after Alessia Zecchini (ITA) - 74m/243ft, Sayuri Kinoshita (JAP) - 72m/236ft, and Natalia Molchanova (RUS) - 71m/233ft. Then in 2018, Amber attempted to set a new AIDA World Record in CNF several times by diving to 73m (240ft) but failed. We will never know if Amber was able to emerge from 67m of depth this time since she faced equalization problems at 59m (194ft) and made an early turn.
The winners of the day
As a result, the winners of the fifth competition day became:
Marianna Gillespie (FRA) - 62m/203ft - Gold medal, new AIDA National Record of France, and World Champion in CNF
Brigitte Banegas (FRA) - 61m/200ft - Silver medal
Jennifer Wendland (DEU) - 59m/194ft - Bronze medal
Marianna Gillespie; photo by Luke Coley
Congratulations to the World Champion and other awardees!
We have already covered Marianna and Jennifer in previous reports, so this time, we would like to familiarize you with Brigitte. This was her first time at the podium in this year’s Championship. Brigitte is one of the rare athletes who has been competing at a high level for over 20 years. In 2000, she already dived to 42m (138ft) of depth in CWT. Then, in 2004, Brigitte reached 50m (164ft) of depth. Additionally, in 2005, she took part in the 1st AIDA Individual Constant Weight World Freediving Championship. It is fascinating to see how freedivers continue developing themselves and competing over a span of decades.
Brigitte Banegas; photo by Roatan Freediving School & Training Center
On the sixth competition day, it is the men's turn to try their hands at CNF. The deepest bid is 82m (269ft). Don't miss it!
CNF - Men (August 22nd)
The men's competition in CNF on the sixth competition day at the 29th AIDA World Championship was as complicated as any CNF competition usually is. Unlike the women's results in CNF, men have not set a new absolute world record in this discipline for six years. We count these six years since that historical day in July 2016, when William Trubridge (NZL) dived to 102m (335ft) of depth during an individual world record attempt according to AIDA rules. However, the world's deepest results according to CMAS are slowly growing. The current CMAS world record in CNF is 92m (302ft) of depth set by Petar Klovar (CRO) at the CMAS Freediving Outdoor World Championship in 2021. At this Championship, the depth of men's dives varied from 35 - 82m (115 - 269ft) of depth.
A tricky path to the podium
The deepest announcement of the day belonged to Abdelatif Alouach (FRA). Abdel didn’t update any official personal bests at the Championship, but he continues to show stable and high results in all disciplines. Without fins, Abdel confidently dived to 82m (269ft) of depth and performed the surface protocol successfully. Abdel made it look easy, and it seems like he can still go even deeper. In either case, it is a well-deserved gold medal. Congratulations, Champion!
Abdelatif Alouach; photo by Luke Coley
Abdel's medal was the only one that went unquestioned. For the silver medal, the debutante of the Championship - Alejandro Llinas (COL) - dived to an impressive 78m (256ft) of depth. With a beautiful swimming technique, Alejandro performed the dive but didn't seem very confident at the surface. According to the judges' opinion, Alejandro's airway dropped underwater during the surface protocol. It was a reason to disqualify the freediver and give him a red card. Fortunately, Alejandro protested against this decision of the judges and his protest was satisfied. This means that now we can congratulate Alejandro on the silver medal, the Vice-champion title, and the new AIDA Continental Record of South America in CNF. Well-deserved, Alejandro!
Alejandro Llinas; photo by Luke Coley
Jordan Levia Alvarez (CUB) was going for the bronze medal at a depth of 62m (203ft) but gave up the idea 8m (26ft) away from the bottom plate. At 54m (177ft) of depth, Jordan turned back and saved his energy to get back to the surface by pulling himself up the dive line, which automatically lead to his disqualification.
This means that the bronze medal eventually went to Michael Zhi-Da Ko (TPE), who announced just 1m (3ft) shallower dive than Jordan, but performed it successfully. It is the first medal for the Taiwan national team at the Championship. Congratulations, Michael!
Michael Zhi-Da Ko; photo by Luke Coley
Jordan's lost medal wasn't the only unfortunate event of the day. Two American athletes, Marc Laszlo (USA) and Marc Anop (USA), announced the same depth of 60m (197ft). Marc Anop managed the depth confidently, but we cannot say the same about Marc Laszlo. About 5m (16ft) below the surface, he lost consciousness, and by the time safeties brought him back to the surface, it took them several minutes to wake Marc up. Unfortunately, this means that Marc is disqualified until the end of the Championship - the competition is over for him.
For other athletes, the Championship continues. We have one last discipline, the deepest one, left - CWT. On the seventh competition day, women will try to dive with their monofins as deep as possible, and several impressive bids have already been made below 100m (328ft). Make sure you don’t miss the broadcast and our news from Roatán.
CWT - Women (August 23rd)
August 23rd was the last competition day for women at the 29th AIDA World Championship, where they donned their monofins and competed in the deepest freediving discipline - CWT. The current AIDA World Record in CWT is 114m (374ft) and the current CMAS World Record is 122m (400ft), both set by Alenka Artnik (SVN). Due to the small number of participants at the Championship, the announced depth range on the seventh competition day was 35 - 104m (115 - 341ft). Theoretically, there was a 20m (66ft) difference between the three deepest announcements and the next deepest performance; however, in practice, the realized depths were even shallower.
Announced top three
The deepest bid of the day belonged to Marianna Gillespie (FRA). The World Champion in CWTB and CNF was prepared to dive to 104m (341ft) of depth in CWT, although it seems that her previous achievements took all of her energy. About 15m (49ft) from the surface upon her return, Marianna stopped kicking, lost consciousness, and was cautiously delivered to the surface by safeties. This meant disqualification for the underwater blackout and a lost chance at setting a new AIDA National Record for France and the title of World Champion.
The next deepest announcement was 102m (335ft) of depth, which belonged to Jennifer Wendland (DEU). In May 2022, Jennifer had just reached the 100m (328ft) barrier and was already on her way to improving her official personal best result and AIDA National Record of Germany in CWT by 2m (7ft). We can't say that it was an easy dive for Jennifer. With an elegant swimming technique, she reached the bottom plate and ripped off the tag. Sadly, at the surface, Jennifer emerged with a heavy samba and with her back to the judges. If you were watching the livestream, you may have found yourself catching your breath watching the moment Jennifer lost the dive line and almost fell back into the water. However, the athlete composed herself and managed to complete the surface protocol and show the OK sign to the judges within the allotted 15 seconds. Eventually, Jennifer received a white card. Until the moment the official results were published, it was difficult to believe that judges would stick to their decision on a white card after reviewing the dive footage.
Jennifer Wendland; photo by Roatan Freediving School and Training Center
The third announcement of 100m (328ft) was made by Şahika Ercümen (TUR). At Vertical Blue 2022, Şahika improved her official personal best in CWT diving to 94m (308ft) and later attempted to join the 100m club. But during the dive to 101m (331ft) with monofin, Şahika had to turn back early. At the Championship, Şahika also did not manage to reach this depth. On Instagram, Şahika wrote that she made a mistake during the dive, and after that, she decided not to force herself and turned back at the depth of 68m (223ft). On the surface, Şahika received a yellow card and excused herself from the race for a medal.
Actual top three
Eventually, after the footage review, the judges did not change the card for Jennifer. We are happy to congratulate the athlete on the honorably-deserved gold medal, a new AIDA National Record in CWT for Germany, and the World Champion title. It wasn't easy, but you made it, Jennifer - congratulations!
The silver and bronze medals went to Enchante Gallardo (US) and Jarmila Slovenčíková (CZE) for their dives to 80m (262ft) and 79m (259ft) respectively. For Enchante, it wasn't the first medal this competition season; she has been very successful and picked up a collection of medals at Vertical Blue 2022 and this current Championship, gradually improving her results in all disciplines.
However, for Jarmila, this will be her first walk to the podium. Jarmila attended her first freediving competition in 2005 when she dived a distance of 50m (164ft) in the pool with a monofin. In 2007, Jarmila participated in the 4th AIDA Individual World Championship and performed a CWT dive to 61m (200ft) with a monofin. Since then, Jarmila has continued to improve her results.
Jarmila Slovenčíková; photo by Roatan Freediving School and Training Center
Congratulations, Enchante and Jarmila!
We wish all the women a good rest and recovery after the complicated Championship and hope to see them soon at the next Championship in Kaş, Turkey.
For the men, the Championship isn't over yet. The last day is still ahead of them and we wish them all luck at conquering their announced depths with monofins. Nine men have announced over 100m (328ft) of depth dives - stay tuned to find out how many of them will reach success!
CWT - Men (August 24th)
The competition in CWT among the men concluded the 29th AIDA World Championship. As mentioned, diving with a monofin has been the deepest discipline in modern competitive freediving for the past 10 years.
Carlos Coste (VEN) was the first man in history who performed a dive with a monofin deeper than 100m (328ft) of depth at an official freediving competition. He contributed to this piece of freediving history on July 17th, 2004, at the BIOS Freeology Open Classic competition. Since then, the results in CWT grew quickly. The current AIDA World Record in CWT is 130m (427ft) and the current CMAS World Record in CWT is 131m (430ft), both set by Alexey Molchanov (RUS).
At this Championship, the announced range of depths varied between 55 - 117m (180 - 384ft), while the reached depths varied between 55 - 116m (180 - 381ft).
New members of the 100m+ club
These rather “shallow” announcements are due to the fact that 10 out of the top 20 athletes in the discipline did not participate in this year’s Championship. Eight athletes from the top 20 have retired from competitive freediving. However, those athletes who actually made their way to the Championship worked at full capacity to improve their results. On the last competition day, nine men announced depths of 100m (328ft) or more of depth. Six of these athletes were attempting to surpass the 100m barrier for the very first time at an official competition.
Rafał Poliwoda (POL), with an announcement of 101m (331ft) of depth, eventually decided not to compete on the last day. The other five athletes successfully managed to add their names and three-digit depth dives in the history of freediving. Eddy Laffin (FRA) performed the deepest dive among them at 102m (335ft) of depth and won the bronze medal. Congratulations!
Eddy Laffin; photo by Roatan Freediving School and Training Center
Walid Boudhiaf (TUN), Abdelatif Alouach (FRA), and Jay Ku (TPE) have already been at depths of over 100m (328ft) several times.
Walid's official personal best in CWT is 116m (381ft), which he reached at the 5th CMAS Freediving Outdoor World Championship in 2021. This time, Walid attempted to improve that result by one meter, and he did end up successfully reaching 117m (384ft) and turning back. However, at a depth of about 30m (98ft), Walid's leg stopped working properly and the monofin seemed to be hindering him rather thsn helping him. Instead of using the dolphin kick technique to reach the surface, Walid's kicks, unfortunately, looked more like him pulling his knees to his stomach. Predictably, at a depth of about 15m (49ft), Walid lost consciousness and was delivered to the surface by safeties.
Abdel, in turn, surprised us by appearing at the start with a monofin instead of his traditional bifins. Abdel is a former world record holder in CWTB, and in the CWT discipline at previous World Championships, he chose to dive with bifins. While the monofin seems to be a bit more challenging for Abdel than bifins, nevertheless, Abdel made his way to the surface. With slightly blue-tinted lips, he still confidently performed the surface protocol and shed tears of joy at his white card and new gold medal.
The third deepest announcement of 105m (344ft) belonged to Jay Ku, which was a conservative bid for the athlete. At Vertical Blue 2022, Jay successfully dived with a monofin to 108m (354ft) of depth, and had no trouble making today’s 105m (344ft) dive look easy. For his efforts, he received a white card and won a silver medal.
Jay Ku, Abdelatif Alouach, Eddy Laffin
As a result, at this year’s Championship, Abdel became a 3x World Champion, winning gold medals in CWTB, CNF, and CWT. In the FIM discipline, Abdel became a Vice-Champion after Walid. This means that, for the third time in a row, Abdel is the overall winner of the AIDA World Championship, which led him to receive the Natalia Molchanova Award. Congratulations, Abdel - you nailed it again flawlessly!
At the previous two Championships, Marianna Gillespie (FRA) kept Abdel company as the other Natalia Molchanova Award recipient among the women. This year, Marianna was unsuccessful in CWT and excused herself from the competition for the award. Therefore, the winner became Jennifer Wendland (DEU)! Jennifer won the silver medal in CWTB (92m/302ft), placed fourth in FIM (85m/279ft), received the bronze medal in CNF (59m/194ft), and took home the gold medal in CWT (102m), winning in the overall ranking and walking to the podium to receive Natalia Molchanova Award. Congratulations, Jennifer!
On this, we are happy to inform you that the 29th AIDA World Championship is officially over! We hope to see you and most of the athletes and current world record holders at the 6th CMAS Freediving Outdoor World Championship, which takes place in October in Kaş, Turkey.