27th AIDA World Championship

Asya Kleshchevnikova
Sports Columnist and Head of Customer Service & International Sales
asya@molchanovs.com
molchanovs.com

Kristina Zvaritch
Editor

1.Preview of the World Championship
2. Pre-competition forecast by discipline
3. Day 1 of competition (22 September)
3.1. Starting protocols for CWTB Women
3.2. Official results in CWTB Women
4. Day 2 of competition (23 September)
4.1. Starting protocols for CWTB Men
4.2. Official results in CWTB Men
5. Day 3 of competition (24 September)
5.1. Starting protocols for FIM Women
5.2. Official results in FIM Women
6. Day 4 of competition (25 September)
6.1. Starting protocols for FIM Men
6.2. Official results in FIM Men
7. Day 5 of competition (26 September)
7.1. Starting protocols for CNF Women
7.2. Preliminary results in CNF Women
8. Day 6 of competition (27 September)
8.1. Starting protocols for CNF Men
8.2. Official results in CNF Men
9. Day 7 of competition (28 September)
9.1.Starting protocols for CWT Women
9.2. Official results in CWT Women
10. Day 8 of competition (29 September)
10.1. Starting protocols for CWT Men
10.2. Official results in CWT Men
11. Back-up competition day (30 September)
11.1. Starting protocols
11.2 Official results

Preview of the World Championship

It is the final countdown to the 27th AIDA Depth World Championship, which will commence on September 20, 2021, in Limassol, Cyprus.

In the past weeks, we set the mood by retelling three stories that are more or less related to past events that took place in Cyprus freediving competitions when the history of freediving just began. Just in case you missed them, here are the links to the stories:

Today, we return to the present and are reporting on what will happen in Cyprus and how in less than seven days.

What is happening in Cyprus?

The official name of the event is 27th AIDA Depth World Championship. Most of you may be wondering how it happened to be the 27th championship event. The answer is simple: we count all AIDA championships that have taken place since 1996. According to AIDA rules, there are three types of championship events:

  • Depth championships
  • Pool championships
  • Team championships (national teams compete in both pool and depth disciplines: STA, DYN, and CWT)

We took the time to count all the previous AIDA championships and found that there were:

  • 8 AIDA Depth World Championships
  • 8 AIDA Pool World Championships
  • 10 AIDA Team World Championships

Therefore, this AIDA World Championship is truly the 27th one.

Despite all the complications caused by the pandemic, 125 athletes from 35 countries are expected to participate in the championship event. There might have been even more participants if the CMAS Outdoor World Championship, which will take place in Kaş, Turkey, was not taking place less than a week after the AIDA Depth World Championship. Some athletes had to choose to participate in only one of these two competitions.

How will the competition take place?

Cyprus is a famous and iconic place for competitive freediving because it was the first international individual competition (taking place in the early 2000s), which set an example for modern pool and depth world championship events. However, this world championship is only the second one held on the island after a notable championship in 2015 (we discussed the events in our third Cyprus freediving story, The Line). We hope that this championship event will go smoothly and without incident. In September, conditions for freediving in Cyprus are favorable:

  • Surface water temperatures are between 25-28°C (77-82°F)
  • The thermocline is below 20m/66ft with water temperatures between 18-20°C (64-68°F)
  • Visibility is about 30m/98ft
  • Air temperatures are between 28-32°C (82-90°F)
  • A maximum depth of 150m/492ft (located one mile from the beach)

Photo by Evgeny Sychev

However, we should always keep in mind that, unlike Vertical Blue, the dive line is set in the open Mediterranean Sea with possible waves, streams, and subject to sudden changes weather. That is why the championship schedule includes one back-up day, which will be used if weather conditions do not allow for athlete performances to take place on one of the planned days.

For the first time in the history of AIDA World Championships, athletes will compete in CWTB (the discipline only became recognized by AIDA in 2019). Another unique feature of AIDA depth championships is that women and men compete on different days. Therefore, the championship schedule is as follows:

  • September 22 (Wednesday): CWTB - Women
  • September 23 (Thursday): CWTB - Men
  • September 24 (Friday): FIM - Women
  • September 25 (Saturday): FIM - Men
  • September 26 (Sunday): CNF - Women
  • September 27 (Monday): CNF - Men
  • September 28 (Tuesday): CWT - Women
  • September 29 (Wednesday): CWT - Men
  • September 30 (Thursday): Back-up competition day

The medal ceremony in all disciplines and the granting of the Natalia Molchanova award will be held at the end of the championship (presumably on September 30). On each competition day, we will remind you of the official broadcast of the World Championship (yes, there will be Diveye!), and once official results are posted, we will share with you the names of winners, the brightest moments of the day, and every new successful world record.

In addition, this is the first time we have developed a special line of freediving equipment devoted to the iconic freediving location and the memorable events which took place in Cyprus. The design is based on the depth map around Cyprus and contains the exact location of the dive site where the 27th AIDA World Championship will take place. The main aim of this special edition equipment and our freediving competition reports are to make freediving history and freedivers more recognized and well-known. The limited edition Cyprus gear is for freedivers who would like to become a part of this history by possessing a unique piece of memorabilia.

This equipment will be available to order only from our online shop during the days of the 27th AIDA Depth World Championship, which will be held on September 20-30, 2021. This equipment design will never again be released. Cyprus special edition equipment includes:

Additionally, we have two Molchanovs athletes taking part in this championship event: Alexey Molchanov of Russia and Vitomir Maričić of Croatia. Alexey will perform his CWT dive with the CM3 Cyprus 2021 and Vitomir will use the CB2 Carbon Cyprus 2021 for his CWTB performance. Afterwards, these extremely unique pieces of equipment will be autographed by the athletes and auctioned off after the competition. We have also planned some surprise discounts on gear!

Stay tuned and don't miss out on news from Cyprus and your chance to add pieces of freediving history to your collection.

Pre-competition forecast by discipline

Ladies and gentlemen, in several days we will witness the 27th AIDA Depth World Championship taking place on September 20-30, 2021, in Limassol, Cyprus. We will now make our traditional forecast on who the main competitors in each discipline will be and which of them will have the best chance at winning the title of World Champion and the Natalia Molchanova Memorial Award. Fortunately, this year has granted us several open sea competitions that took place in different parts of the world. We hope you all remember the spectacular Vertical Blue 2021, however, the performances achieved in the Bahamas in almost ideal conditions cannot be compared with the performances that are achieved in the open sea. That is why, in our forecast, we will refer to the most recent open sea competitions that took place in September 2021 and were used by athletes as preparation for the final round of the season - the World Championship.

The most recent open sea competitions are as follows:

  • AIDA/CMAS Adriatic Depth Trophy - September 4-11, 2021, in Krk, Croatia, in the Adriatic Sea
  • CMAS European Cup Depth Championship 2021 – September 12-19, 2021, in Kalamata, Greece, in the Ionian Sea
  • AIDA World Championships Pre-Competition - September 11-17, 2021, in Limassol, Cyprus, in the Mediterranean Sea

CWTB

Constant Weight With Bifins will be the first discipline of the championship event. This discipline is relatively new; it became recognized by AIDA only in January 2019. However, World Championship organizers did not have enough time to include it in the championship event in 2019, which took place in Villefranche-sur-Mer, France. Therefore, athletes will compete in CWTB in the AIDA World Championship for the very first time in history. To our pleasure, AIDA World Record Holder in CWTB, Jennifer Wendland of Germany, will take part in this championship event. Jennifer's AIDA World Record (93m/305ft), set on July 3, 2021, did not last long as an absolute record. On July 18, 2021, in Vertical Blue, Alice Modolo of France dived to 95m/312ft with bifins. While Alice is not participating in this championship, the rivalry between the women in this discipline should still be very intense. Other than Jennifer, the athletes fighting for medals in CWTB include Marianna Gillespie of France, Fatima Korok of Hungary, Alena Konečná of the Czech Republic, Jung A Kim of South Korea, and, potentially, Sofía Gómez Uribe of Colombia.

Marianna’s official personal best record in CWTB is 85m/279ft, however, on her Facebook page, Marianna mentioned that she had managed to dive to 94m/308ft in bifins (just 1m/3ft less than the CMAS World Record in CWTB). Therefore, the fight for gold will be between Jennifer and Marianna.

Alena Konečná, Fatima Korok, and Jung A Kim have very close official personal best records in CWTB - 85m/279ft, 86m/282ft, and 86m, respectively. Alena and Fatima are already rather experienced freedivers, and this is not their first championship event. However, as far as we know for Jung, this AIDA World Championship will be her first one. Earlier this year, she performed in Vertical Blue, managing to set several national records and reached her personal best record in CWTB to 86m. All three athletes are already preparing for the World Championship in Cyprus.

Among men, the rivalry should be similarly fierce. The main favorites are Alexey Molchanov of Russia (current CMAS World Record Holder in CWTB with a 118m/387ft performance at Vertical Blue 2021) and Abdelatif Alouach (former CMAS World Record Holder in CWTB), who dived to 115m/377ft of depth in the 8th CMAS French Apnea Outdoor Championship held in Villefranche-sur-Mer, France. For Abdel, the cool water of the Mediterranean Sea must feel like home. However, Alexey is far away from the sea in Moscow just six days before the first competition day. The master doesn't need much time for preparation though, does he?

Another contender for a medal is a new freediving star from Greece - Christos Karelos. The 23-year-old athlete dived to 105m/344ft of depth with bifins on September 16 in Kalamata, setting a new CMAS National Record for Greece.

If any of the top three athletes make a mistake, a medal can go to Vitomir Maričić of Croatia or Dean Chaouche of the UK, as both are coming to the World Championship and have very close personal best records in CWTB of 98m/322ft and 97m/318ft, respectively.

FIM

The current world record holder in this discipline, Alessia Zecchini of Italy (101m/331ft, Vertical Blue 2021), will not be participating in the AIDA Depth World Championship; she is now in Kaş, Turkey, getting ready for the upcoming CMAS World Championship, which will take place at the beginning of October. That is why the main candidate for the AIDA World Champion title in FIM is Fatima Korok of Hungary, whose official personal best record and AIDA Hungarian National Record is 88m/289ft (set at the AIDA World Championships Pre-Competition on September 12, 2021, in Limassol). During her training sessions, Fatima reached depths below 90m/295ft.

Fatima’s highly anticipated performance is followed by Jennifer Wendland of Germany. Jennifer’s official personal best record in FIM is 88m/289ft.

The next competitors are two athletes with the same official result of 81m/266ft - Marianna Gillespie and Jung A Kim. Marianna Gillespie, along with Fatima Korok, both reached 81m of depth in the 2019 AIDA World Championship (held in Villefranche-sur-Mer), and together shared first place. That day, conditions for freediving in Villefranche-sur-Mer were so harsh that the competition had to be postponed, recommencing on a back-up day. In Limassol, the weather is more favorable for athletes; Fatima has already managed to reach much greater depths in FIM. Will there be a repeat of her success in the Championship? What will be Marianna's response? We are looking forward to see it.

Jung A Kim dived to 81m/266ft in 2019 in Bali, and in Vertical Blue 2021, she performed only one dive in FIM to 77m/253ft and continued to improve her performance in CTWB. Will Jung compete for a medal in the World Championship? We will know soon enough.

Among the men, the current world record holder in FIM, according to both AIDA and CMAS records, is Alexey Molchanov. His AIDA World Record stands strong at 125m/410ft, and at Vertical Blue 2021, Alexey dived to 126m/413ft according to CMAS rules. Will Alexey dare to match his CMAS World Record and dive to 126m according to AIDA rules as well?

The nearest of Alexey's rivals in FIM, Petar Klovar of Croatia and Abdelatif Alouach of France, have both dived to 111m/364ft. In the most recent Adriatic Depth Trophy in Krk, Petar dived to 105m/344ft in FIM. Considering that conditions for freediving in the Adriatic Sea are quite harsh, nevertheless, Petar managed successfully. We believe that in the warm Mediterranean Sea, he will be a serious competitor for Alexey, who performed deep dives mainly in the Bahamas this freediving season. Abdel also seems to be used to cool waters since he achieved great results in Villefranche-sur-Mer.

Speaking of freedivers who train in cold water, we should mention Andrey Matveenko of Russia. Most of the time, Andrey lives and trains in the Black Sea (with a surface water temperature of 23°C/73°F and a thermocline of 8°C/46°F). In the 2019 World Championship, Andrey dived to 105m/344ft of depth in Villefranche-sur-Mer and shared third place with another famous French athlete, Morgan Bourc’his. We hope Andrey is ready to fight for the medal in 2021 as well.

CNF

The strongest woman in CNF and current CNF World Record Holder, Alessia Zecchini of Italy (AIDA record is 73m/240ft, CMAS record is 74m/243ft), and Nataliia Zharkova of Ukraine (personal best record of 70m/230ft) will not be competing in Limassol in 2021. Therefore, the main favorite in CNF is Marianna Gillespie. In the 2019 AIDA World Championship, Marianna successfully dived to 62m/203ft and shared second place with Jessie Lu of China, after Nataliia Zharkova. We do not currently know if Marianna has been training for CNF, but we do know that she aims to perform in all the disciplines in this World Championship. Will Marianna win CNF this time?

If not, Olga Davydova of Russia, Fatima Korok of Hungary, or Jennifer Wendland of Germany may try to steal the championship; their official best personal result in CNF are as follows: 60m/197ft, 58m/190ft, and 56m/184ft.

On the men’s side, the most anticipated performance belongs to Petar Klovar of Croatia. In May 2021, at the AIDA Freediving World Cup in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, Petar dived to 111m/364ft in FIM, but then fell ill and was not able to compete further. But then, as we mentioned earlier, Petar dived to 105m/344ft in FIM in the Adriatic Sea. However, his greatest achievement at the Adriatic Depth Trophy was a successful dive to 91m/299ft in CNF, which is equal to the CMAS World Record in CNF set by Alexey Molchanov at Vertical Blue 2021 (reminder: AIDA World Record in CNF is 102m/335ft by William Trubridge). Therefore, we literally have no idea who will win in CNF, and we are absolutely excited by the unpredictability of this plot!

Once Alexey and Petar will decide who is the 2021 Champion in CNF, Abdelatif Alouach of France, Dean Chaouche of the UK, and Vitomir Maričić of Croatia will compete for the rest of the medals. Their official personal best records are rather close at 83m/272ft, 82m/269ft, and 77m/253ft, respectively.

CWT

In the deepest discipline, athletes will compete during the final two days of the World Championship. The absolute star in CWT among the women currently is Alenka Artnik of Slovenia. At Vertical Blue 2021, she performed an incredible dive to 122m/400ft and is now CMAS World Record Holder in CWT. According to AIDA rules, the world record in CWT (114m/374ft) also belongs to Alenka. She will not be participating in this championship event. This means that the champion cannot be predetermined and that several athletes will compete for the title. The most likely winner, according to the information we have managed to gather, is Marianna Gillespie of France. In September 2021, in Kalamata, Greece, Marianna performed a successful dive to 102m/335ft, making her the deepest woman in the upcoming World Championship. Will Marianna be able to replicate her success? We are definitely looking forward to see it!

Marianna's nearest competitors are Alena Konečná of the Czech Republic (97m/318ft), Sofía Gómez Uribe of Colombia (96m/315ft), and potentially Jung A Kim of South Korea (86m/282ft) and Jennifer Wendland of Germany (90m/295ft). All athletes are now in Cyprus and have hopefully had enough time to get ready for the World Championship.

And among the men, surprisingly, there may be an interesting twist. During the last nine years, we have gotten used to the fact that the only possible winner in CWT is Alexey Molchanov. Since Alexey's first world record in this discipline in 2012, no one has managed to successfully dive deeper than him. At the moment, Alexey's current world record in CWT is 131m/430ft, which was set in the Bahamas at Vertical Blue 2021.

However, it seems that in this championship event, Alexey may finally have a competitor in CWT! Christos Karelos of Greece successfully reached 120m/394ft of depth in competition, and even attempted 122m/400ft in Kalamata, but blacked out at the surface. It seems like he has a great potential!

Except Alexey and Christos, other athletes that may dive beyond 110m/361ft in this championship event are Andrey Matveenko of Russia and Abdelatif Alouach of France. In the 2019 AIDA World Championship, Andrey performed a beautiful dive to 119m/390ft and became Vice-champion after Alexey Molchanov. Andrey just arrived in Cyprus and has already reached 110m/361ft of depth during his training sessions before the World Championship.

Abdel does not dive with a monofin, however, in the CWT discipline, he can still perform a successful dive in bifins to 115m/377ft and try to win a medal. Would you bet on him?

We hope you remember that in 2015, AIDA International established the Natalia Molchanova Memorial Award, which is presented to the most worthy male and female athletes. The awardees are usually chosen by the AIDA World Championship judges, however, most of the time, the award is given to the overall winners of the competition.

The award was given for the first time in 2015 at the AIDA World Depth Championship in Limassol, Cyprus. The athletes who received the award were Sayuri Kinoshita of Japan and Goran Čolak of Croatia. In 2018, AIDA International decided to include a monetary prize to the recipients of this honorable award in the sum of €1,500/~US$1,867. At the last AIDA Depth World Championship, which took place in Nice, France in 2019, the award was given to two French athletes: Marianna Gillespie and Abdelatif Alouach.

We know that this year, Marianna is also going to perform in all four disciplines and have a good chance at winning the prize again. But we have no idea who will be the winner among the men!

At the World Championship, all of the athletes will have only one attempt in each discipline. They have to face not only an open sea with its possible underwater currents, waves, and various water temperatures, but also their own anxiety and excitement. It’s time for a very real, unpredictable, and therefore, magnificent AIDA World Championship! And may the best win!

 

Day 1 of competition (22 September)

Starting protocols for CWTB - WOMEN

We are thrilled to present you with a start list for the first competition day of the 27th AIDA World Championship.

According to the schedule of the Championship, the men and women dive separately. The ladies will go first to open the championship event.

The starts are organized from a ship, located about 6 to 8 kilometers (3.7 to 5 miles) from the beach with a maximum depth of 160m/525ft. There will be two official dive lines, both with counter ballast systems that are able to lift a freediver back to the surface at a speed of 1.5m/sec (5ft/sec). High-resolution sonar and live video from Diveye will provide real-time information on the athletes’ progress.

All freediving fans will be able to witness the competition online. The broadcast, organized by the Diveye team, will start at 8:30 a.m. local Cyprus time (UTC+3), and can be watched on AIDA Freediving YouTube channel:

Athlete dives are sorted according to the announced depth, with the two official dive lines set from the shallowest dives and slowly lowering to the day’s deepest dives before the 30-minute competition break, and then set from deepest to shallowest after the break. The very deepest dives of the day will occur before the break.

The rivalry for every medal will be very intense. For first and second place, there are simultaneously four athletes with the same depth announcements.

As we predicted, two of the deepest announcements in CWTB belong to the leaders of the discipline in this championship - Marianna Gillespie of France and current AIDA World Record Holder in CWTB Jennifer Wendland of Germany. Both athletes are targeting 92m (302ft).

Another very strong contender in CWTB, Fatima Korok of Hungary (personal best record of 86m/282ft), injured herself two days ago on the way to the official training session. Unfortunately, she will not be participating today.

The second deepest announcement belongs to two athletes, Alena Konečná of the Czech Republic and Jung A Kim of South Korea. Both women are going to dive to 82m/269ft. Additionally, only 1m/3ft difference separates the third bid of Sofía Gómez Uribe of Colombia.

Molchanovs ambassador and the Guinness World Record holder in under-ice freediving, Olga Markina, has the sixth deepest depth announcement; she will be diving to 73m/240ft.

The dive times of the deepest athletes and the Molchanovs ambassador is as follows (Cyprus time, UTC+3):
9:40 a.m. - Olga Markina
9:55 a.m. - Sofía Gómez Uribe
10:00 a.m. - Jung A Kim
10:05 a.m. - Alena Konečná
10:10 a.m. - Marianna Gillespie
10:15 a.m. - Jennifer Wendland

We wish all of the athletes easy dives and perfect weather!

Let the show begin!

Official results in CWTB - WOMEN

September 22 in Limassol, Cyprus, was the first day of the 27th AIDA Depth World Championship, and we have really mixed feelings about it.

Everything started quite positively: the sun was shining, the sea was calm, and athletes were getting mainly white cards, including top athletes.

We gladly congratulate Marianna Gillespie of France and Jennifer Wendland of Germany on receiving white cards for the deepest dives of the day at 92m/302ft (just 1m/3ft less than the AIDA World Record of Jennifer Wendland). Well done, golden girls! Your performances were impeccable!

Photo by Daan Verhoeven

The second deepest dives of the day to 82m/269ft were also clean and beautiful, and were made by Alena Konečná of the Czech Republic and Jung A Kim of South Korea. Colombian athlete Sofía Gómez Uribe performed only 1m/3ft less and received a white card for an excellent dive to 81m/266ft.

Photo by Daan Verhoeven

Potentially, Alena and Jung will share a silver medal and Sofía will receive the bronze, but we will only know for sure at the awards ceremony at the end of the championship.

However, for other athletes, the day was not so successful. Some athletes forgot that, according to AIDA rules in CWTB, even one dolphin kick is enough for disqualification. It happened with Suzanne Lim of France, who had a smooth dive to 60m/197ft, but made one dolphin kick after turning in the candy cane zone. At first, Suzanne was given a white card, but after rewatching the video from her dive, the judges noticed the mistake.

In our opinion, CMAS rules, which allow one dolphin kick at the beginning of the dive from the surface and one dolphin kick upon turning at the bottom plate, are wiser and fairer.

After rewatching the video, the judges also gave red cards to Sanda Delija of Croatia, who dived to 71m/233ft, but on the turn pulled the rope several centimeters above the candy cane zone. Therefore, a disqualification and failed attempt at the Croatian national record in CWTB occurred.

Seven athletes, including Molchanovs ambassador Olga Markina, experienced difficulties with equalization and wisely turned earlier than their announced depth. All athletes surfaced without injuries and will continue to compete in the next days.

However, there was also one decision from the judges which we have not managed to understand. Zoya Golovnya of Russia had a smooth dive to 60m/197ft and surfaced in full control of herself, showing clean surface protocol. Nevertheless, she was given a red card because judges considered Zoya's hand movement to her nose, in order to clean her face, as an attempt to take off the nose clip for the second time. The following protest of Zoya was declined twice. Judges even forgot the paragraph of the AIDA rules that suggests "in the case of any doubt, the benefit of the doubt is given to the athlete."

Therefore, we cannot help but to remember CMAS rules again. In CMAS competitions, the surface protocol includes only showing the OK-sign within 20 seconds after surfacing, which also seems much more adequate and appropriate to the situation. Hopefully, AIDA management will hear the athletes and update the rules before all freedivers lose their interest in AIDA competitions, in general.

Day 2 of competition (September 23)

Start list CWTB - MEN

On the second day of the 27th AIDA Depth World Championship, the men will perform in CWTB. It seems like they are following the example of the women and decided to give us a spectacular show.

Dives will be organized in the same order as yesterday: on two official dive lines, athletes will first perform the shallowest dives, gradually leading up to the deepest dives, and then the deepest dives will work their way down to the shallowest dives.

Guess who has the deepest announcement? We hope you didn't have any doubt that it is Alexey Molchanov of Russia. Even the deepest bid of the day isn't enough for the athlete. He decided to set (drum roll, please!) a new AIDA World Record in CWTB with a dive to 115m/377ft with CB2 Carbon bifins. The current AIDA World Record in CWTB is 113m/371ft and belongs to Alexey. However, in July, at Vertical Blue 2021, Alexey set the CMAS World Record and dived to 115m. Today, he will try to break his AIDA record as well, but considering that the championship event is taking place in the open sea with unpredictable weather conditions, Alexey decided to be cautious and did not announce his maximum depth. We only hope that he was cautious enough and checked the weather forecast carefully for September 23 (it seems like we are promised wind speeds of 10m/s, or 22.4mph). May the force be with you, Alexey!

Alexey's nearest competitor in CWTB, Abdelatif Alouach of France, announced 111m/364ft. Abdel is the former CMAS World Record Holder in CWTB with his dive to 115m/377ft of depth in the 8th CMAS French Apnea Outdoor Championship held in Villefranche-sur-Mer, France. It seems that he also trying to compete wisely and is considering possibly harsh weather conditions.

Christos Karelos of Greece and Molchanovs athlete Vitomir Maričić of Croatia announced the same depth - 100m/328ft. Although, Christos is only 23 years old, he is already the CMAS National Record Holder of his country. On September 16 in Kalamata, he dived to 105m/344ft of depth with bifins. This World Championship event is the first in Christos’ freediving career, therefore, it seems like he also is treading cautiously by not announcing a depth that is very near to his maximum performance.

Vitomir, on the contrary, is famous for implementing the strategy of pushing his limits to the extreme. Therefore, despite expecting strong wind, Vitomir announced a depth 2m/6ft deeper than his AIDA personal best record. If he succeeds, it will be a new AIDA National Record for Croatia in CWTB. We are passionately rooting for you, go Vitomir! But, please, keep the screen away from children and pregnant women during Vitomir's dive!

In addition, since it is the first AIDA World Championship which includes the CWTB discipline, eight athletes will try to set new AIDA National Records for their countries.

The dive times of the deepest athletes and the Molchanovs ambassador is as follows (Cyprus time, UTC+3):
8:50 a.m. - Alexey Molchanov
9:00 a.m. - Abdelatif Alouach
9:10 a.m. - Christos Karelos
9:20 a.m. - Vitomir Maričić

We’re wishing the best luck to all the athletes! You may witness the dives of the brave directly on the AIDA Freediving YouTube channel.

Official results CWTB - MEN

On the second day of the 27th AIDA World Championship in Limassol, Cyprus, the men competed against one another in CWTB. It was a very long and complicated day, which was just a logical sequel to some of the problems that occurred on the first competition day.

Despite the weather forecast, the day started off calmly, and in the early morning the wind wasn't very strong and the waves weren't too high. Athletes were relaxed and performing successful dives.

Alexey Molchanov of Russia received a white card for his AIDA World Record dive to 115m/377ft.

Photo by Daan Verhoeven

Abdelatif Alouach also earned a white card for the second deepest dive of the day, ensuring the silver medal for himself.

Photo by Daad Verhoeven

But then, unexpectedly and unfortunately, the national record holder in CWTB of Greece, Christos Karelos, with an absolutely reachable bid (for him) of 100m/328ft, unfortunately blacked out 19m/62ft before the surface. The athlete announced a depth that was 5m/16ft less than his personal best record, but it seems that he did not manage well with the anxiety of participating in his first World Championship. Therefore, Christos did not surface on his own, and according to AIDA rules, underwater blackout leads to disqualification for the rest of the competition. We hope Christos will recover quickly and will be luckier next time!

On the contrary, Vitomir Maričić of Croatia, who usually causes a little anxiety in his fans, managed his dive smoothly and accurately. Vitomir's excellent swimming technique and experience in many world championship events resulted in a well-deserved white card, a new AIDA National Record in CWTB for Croatia, and the bronze medal. Congratulations, Vitomir! We are looking forward to seeing you on the pedestal at the award ceremony.

Photo by Jacob Lee

Vitomir's national record was the only successful record out of the eight announced. After his dive, the weather conditions swiftly worsened, and soon the organizers had to cancel the rest of the competition day. The missed dives in CWTB can be performed on any other day after the regularly scheduled dives.

However, the main intrigue and the most stressful four hours of the event had only just started.

Once the diving was finished, we all desperately awaited the publishing of the official results due to worry over Alexey's World Record status. Attentive viewers of the broadcast may have noticed a possible pull at the turn of Alexey's dive that occurred above the candy cane zone. If proved correct, this pull would become the reason for a red card and disqualification. However, official results then confirmed Alexey's white card and a new world record in CWTB.

Then, a logical protest of the French team followed. They claimed that Alexey made a grab of the rope above the candy cane zone. The protest was validated and Alexey's white card turned yellow. It was at this moment that the French team realized their mistake (they confused the grab with the pull) and supported Croatian athlete Sanda Delija to file another protest for a pull of the rope made just outside of the candy cane zone. The protest was also validated and the yellow card became red.

The most unexplainable nuance in this story is that the day before, on the first day of the championship event, Sanda was given a red card and disqualified for the same pull of the rope above the candy cane zone after rewatching the video feed of her dive. This lead to a failed attempt at a new AIDA National Record in CWTB for Sanda.

But Alexey wasn't going to give up so easily. He also filed a protest of the judges' decision and managed to prove that there was no mistake on his side during his dive. Therefore, Alexey's new AIDA World Record in CWTB was reinstated and finally confirmed.

However, we still have some particular questions about AIDA rules in general, and also about the judges' decisions made on the first day of the World Championship. Hopefully, during these next competition days, athletes will receive better support and attention and will not need to defend their achievements after their performances.

Day 3 of competition (September 24)

Start list FIM - WOMEN

 On the third day of the 27th AIDA Depth World Championship, the women will be performing in FIM.

The ladies are taking competition seriously in this discipline with announcements of seven new national records! This includes Fatima Korok of Hungary, who also has the deepest announcement of the day with 89m/292ft. We hope that Fatima has fully recovered after a head injury on her way to the training session several days ago. Because of the injury, Fatima did not compete in CWTB on the first day of the championship. It seems that now, the athlete wants to compensate for her earlier misfortune and gain as many points as possible. Go for it, Fatima! We believe in you!

Fatima’s highly anticipated performance is followed by Jennifer Wendland of Germany with a bid of 85m/279ft. In theory, the dive shouldn't be too complicated for her as her personal best record in FIM is 88m/289ft. Hopefully the theory will be proven correct!

For third place, with a smaller bid of only 1m/3ft, Alena Konečná of the Czech Republic will compete. If she succeeds, her performance will become a new AIDA National Record for the Czech Republic. Good luck, Alena!

If any of these top athletes slip, Jung A Kim of South Korea, Sanda Delija of Croatia, and Marianna Gilespie of France will try to capture a medal. Their announcements are 82m/269ft, 81m/266ft, and 81m, respectively. For these three athletes, successful dives will mean new national records for their countries.

We are very intrigued and are looking forward to finding out who the winners will be.

The dive times of the deepest athletes and the Molchanovs ambassador is as follows (Cyprus time, UTC+3):
9:50 a.m. - Fatima Korok
9:55 a.m. - Jennifer Wendland
10:00 a.m. - Alena Konečná
10:05 a.m. - Jung A Kim
10:10 a.m. - Sanda Delija
10:15 a.m. - Marianna Gillespie

We’re wishing the best of luck to all the athletes! Let's support them and cheer them on online on the AIDA Freediving YouTube channel.

Official results FIM - WOMEN

On the third day of the 27th AIDA World Championship in Limassol, Cyprus, the women competed against one another in FIM. It was a day of multi-colored cards and contained a surprisingly funny moment!

I will go into everything in detail later, but first, I would like to congratulate Fatima Korok of Hungary and celebrate her deepest dive of the day. Fatima announced and successfully reached a depth of 89m/292ft, setting a new AIDA National Record for Hungary and winning the title of World Champion in FIM. Hearty congratulations, Fatima! I was glad to witness your victory!

Photo by Daan Verhoeven

Fatima started participating in World Championships only two years ago. In her first AIDA World Championship in 2019 in Villefranche-sur-Mer, France, Fatima reached 81m/266ft of depth in FIM and shared first place with very experienced freediver Marianna Gillespie of France. In theory, in this current championship event, Fatima had several very strong competitors in FIM, including Marianna, Jennifer Wendland, Jung A Kim, and Alena Konečná. However, I learned that during her training sessions in FIM, Fatima reached a depth below 90m/295, which is why I considered her the most likely winner. And despite the injury she incurred just two days before the performance, Fatima managed the dive successfully! You are a true fighter, Fatima! Keep going!

But for many other athletes, the day was not so easy and successful. After strong winds on September 23, the water temperature on September 24 dropped several degrees and many freedivers became cold and experienced issues with equalization and surface protocol. As a result, there were 19 red and yellow cards in total for surface blackouts and early turns.

Even Jennifer Wendland of Germany, the main contender for the silver medal with an 85m/279ft announcement, did not manage to complete her dive. Jennifer reached the announced depth, but on the surface, she lost the dive line and blacked out for several seconds and did not manage to show surface protocol, thereby received a red card.

Alena Konečná of the Czech Republic announced a depth only 1m/3ft less than Jennifer, but managed it smoothly and confidently. Hence, the title of Vice-champion in FIM and the silver medal is hers. Congratulations to Alena!

Photo by Daan Verhoeven

The next two athletes with bids of 82m/269ft and 81m/266ft were Jung A Kim of South Korea and Sanda Delija of Croatia. Both could not manage with equalization and cautiously turned earlier than the announced depth. Therefore, both of them received yellow cards and lost their chances at climbing the podium in FIM. Consequently, the bronze medal went to Marianna Gillespie of France, who performed a clean dive to 81m/266ft. Well done, Marianna!

Photo by Jacob Lee

An unfortunate yellow card was given to Zoya Golovnya of Russia. Zoya successfully managed her dive to 55m/180ft, but on the turn, she accidentally grabbed two tags, which fell out from her hood just several meters before the surface. As a result, Zoya was deducted 3 points because her computer showed that she reached the depth of 54m/177ft while the announcement was 55m/180ft. Let's wish better luck to Zoya on her next dive, the athlete really needs it!

And, since I promised you some fun, here is a story of the dive performed by Katsiaryna Spiryna of Belarus. When Katya started her 40m/131ft dive, the noodle that she used to prepare for the dive caught on Katya's lanyard, and she pulled the noodle the entire way down to 40m. Katya mentioned that the most complicated moment of her dive was not to laugh at the turn when she finally noticed the noodle. Fortunately, it did not prevent Katya from completing her dive successfully and setting a new AIDA National Record for Belarus. Congratulation to, literally, a very strong Belarusian athlete!

Judges were joking about that the noodle attempted to set a world record - but what a shame, the noodle didn’t manage the surface protocol, it swam away 30m/98ft before the surface, instead.

Day 4 of competition (September 25)

Start list FIM - MEN

On the fourth day of the 27th AIDA Depth World Championship, the men will be performing in FIM.

There is nothing unpredictable with the deepest announcement. It, of course, belongs to Alexey Molchanov of Russia, with a bid of 118m/387ft. The depth is relatively conservative for Alexey, as his personal best record and CMAS World Record in FIM is 126m/413ft (set in Vertical Blue 2021). In theory, Alexey shouldn't experience any difficulties with the dive. Still, I am cheering on Alexey and wish him a lucky and enjoyable dive! Go, Alexey!

The most interesting and intriguing act starts right after Alexey's performance, and it can be called an act of bravery.

The thing is that, according to the AIDA rules, athletes may announce depths that are 5m/16ft more than their deepest dive in the past three months. Therefore, this time, many freedivers decided to go big. Pater Klovar of Croatia made a very impressive announcement for 116m/381ft. Petar dived to 111m/364ft of depth in FIM in a competition that took place in May 2021 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, which was a complicated and demanding dive for him. In the most recent Adriatic Depth Trophy in Krk, Croatia, Petar dived to 105m/344ft in FIM. Conditions for freediving in the Adriatic Sea are quite harsh, but nevertheless, Petar managed successfully.

Abdelatif Alouach of France announced 111m/365ft of depth, which is equal to his official personal best record, which he achieved in the 26th AIDA World Championship held in Villefranche-sur-Mer, France.

Several athletes follow with announcements equal to or exceeding their maximum personal best records. Andrey Matveenko of Russia plans to dive to 106m/348ft, and Vitomir Maričić of Croatia and Sergey Zykov of Russia both aim to grab the tag at 101m/331ft of depth.

The question remains if the athletes will manage to achieve their desired results and if the weather conditions will allow it. Let's watch the broadcast and see it online.

The dive times of the deepest athletes are as follows (Cyprus time, UTC+3):
9:20 a.m. - Alexey Molchanov
9:30 a.m. - Petar Klovar
9:40 a.m. - Abdelatif Alouach
9:50 a.m. - Andrey Matveenko
10:00 a.m. - Vitomir Maričić
10:10 a.m. - Sergey Zykov

I wish the best of luck to all the athletes! The broadcast is available on the AIDA Freediving YouTube channel.

By the way, did you notice that 3 out of 6 deepest bids of the day belong to Russian athletes and 2 to athletes from Croatia? Which team will win today? Will you place your bets?

Official results FIM - MEN

On September 25, on the fourth day of the 27th AIDA World Championship in Limassol, Cyprus, the men competed against one another in FIM.

All of the men who announced deep dives managed them beautifully and received white cards. First place was predictably taken by Alexey Molchanov of Russia with a dive to 118m/387ft, which was a rather easy and routine dive for him. Alexey's deepest dive and CMAS World Record in FIM is 126m/413ft (set in Vertical Blue 2021). Congratulations, Alexey!

Although Alexey won the World Champion title in FIM, the true hero of the day was Petar Klovar of Croatia. Petar's announcement was 116m/381ft, and he managed it very smoothly and set a new AIDA National Record of Croatia. Congratulations, Petar! I was passionately rooting for the athlete because it was a new depth for him. As previously mentioned, Petar performed an official dive to 111m/364ft in May 2021 in Sharm-el Sheikh, Egypt. That dive ended up being rather complicated for him, therefore, some were worried about Petar and were anxiously watching his dive. But Petar surfaced fully in control of himself and showed the surface protocol with a smile under the passionate and authoritative command of his beloved coach. This couple is just a great team.

Photo by Daan Verhoeven

The bronze medal was taken by Abdelatif Alouch of France. Abdel, again, confidently reached the depth of 111m/364ft as he did in the 26th AIDA World Championship in 2019.


Speaking of these three deepest men of the day, I can't help but draw your attention to their dive times. The difference between Alexey's and Petar's depth was only 2m/6ft, however, Petar completed his dive in a very speedy time of 3 minutes and 40 seconds. Alexey, being very relaxed, reached 118m/387ft of depth and returned to the surface after 4 minutes and 22 seconds. Abdel's dive was even shorter (when counting the depth as a distance), but it took him 4 minutes and 2 seconds. It seems to me that people more resistant to hypoxia prefer slower and more relaxed dives. And Petar used his tremendous physical strength to literally sprint the entire depth.

The next three dives to depths of over 100m/328ft were also successful. Andrey Matveenko, Vitomir Maričić, and Sergey Zykov managed dives to 106m/348ft, 101m/331ft, and 101m respectively.

Andrey and Vitomir are very experienced freedivers, and we have seen full videos of their dives many times. However, Sergey is participating in the World Championship for the first time in his freediving career, and it was very interesting to watch his unique performance. Sergey dived in a mask, which is why during the beginning part of his dive, he had to pull himself down with one hand and needed the other to equalize. It may not look like a very efficient technique, however, it worked well for Sergey, who received a white card for his dive. I wish Sergey luck and hope to see him in the next Championship!

To sum up, despite strong underwater current, this day was the most successful competition day so far with only 9 yellow cards, 1 red card for a surface blackout, and no protests at all.

Congratulations to all the athletes, managers, and judges for passing through the equator of the Championship! Four days have passed, with four days still to go. I am looking forward to witnessing the next freediving adventures that the following competition days may bring.

Day 5 of competition (September 26)

Start list CNF - WOMEN

 On the fifth day of the 27th World Championship, we are moving to a new discipline - the women will compete against one another in CNF.

 

This is the most demanding and complicated discipline because freedivers do not have the help of the dive line or fins to propel themselves. They use only the pure strength of their muscles to descend and return to the surface. Hopefully, the underwater current will not be strong today and will not disturb athletes.

The deepest announcement of the day belongs to Fatima Korok of Hungary, who will be diving to an impressive 64m/210ft.

The second deepest announcement belongs to Marine Simonis of Belgium for 60m/197ft. I did not find Marine's official AIDA results (which is why I missed the athlete in my pre-competition forecast), but in the 2021 CMAS French Championship, she managed to dive to 56m/184m and set the CMAS National Record for Belgium. Good luck to Marine at her first AIDA World Championship!

Then follows three very close announcements amongst the following women, whose names you probably already have memorized: Alena Konecna, Jennifer Wendland, and Marianna Gillespie, who will dive to 58m/190ft, 58m, and 57m/187ft, respectively, all fighting for third place in CNF.

In CNF, the smallest mistake or change in the weather may cost an athlete a white card, therefore, results and medals may be awarded in a very unexpected way. Let's watch the broadcast together and see with our own eyes who the winner will be!

In addition, seven athletes have planned to set new national records for their countries.

The dive times of the deepest athletes are as follows (Cyprus time, UTC+3):
9:20 a.m. - Fatima Korok
9:25 a.m. - Marine Simonis
9:30 a.m. - Alena Konecna
9:35 a.m. - Jennifer Wendland
9:40 a.m. - Marianna Gillespie

I wish the best of luck to all the athletes! The broadcast is available on the AIDA Freediving YouTube channel.

Preliminary results CNF - Women

The most successful day of the 27th AIDA World Championship in Limassol, Cyprus, was followed by the most complicated one.

On September 26, the women were scheduled to compete in CNF. But right from the beginning, there was very strong current, which not only complicated the competition, but even made it rather dangerous. Judges were forced to cancel the rest of the day’s dives after two deep and very serious blackouts.

Photo "horisontal blue" by Daan Verhoeven

For this day, there were 38 announcements in total, and the competition was cancelled after the 12th dive. Only 5 out of 12 athletes managed to complete their performance with white cards. These heroes are Suwon Kim of Korea (41m/135ft), Vera Giampietro of Switzerland (43m/141ft and a new AIDA National Record for Switzerland), Clementine Marie of France (45m/148ft), Yukine Toshinaga of Japan (47m/154ft), and Brigitte Banegas of France (51m/167ft).

All the other athletes received yellow and red cards. The biggest and most distressing blackouts that occurred happened to the two women with the deepest announcements: Fatima Korok of Hungary and Marine Simonis of Belgium.

The women dived to 64m/210ft and 60m/197ft, respectively, but had blackouts. According to AIDA classifications, their blackouts were considered severe (deep water BO, 10-20m/33-66ft deep, and/or a recovery time of 20 to 30 seconds), therefore, they will not be allowed to continue their participation in the competition during its final days.

Among other dives, I want to mention the performance of Cassandra Cooper of Canada. She announced 51m/167ft and reached the target depth. Yet on her ascent, at about 15m/49ft before the surface, the athlete realized that she was too tired to fight the current. She asked for help from the safety team and they responded, gently bringing her back to the surface. In my opinion, it was a wise and absolutely appropriate decision in this case because, first of all, Cassandra did not suffer any injuries. Secondly, she (and all other athletes with yellow and red cards who did not experience underwater blackouts) are now permitted to perform their dives again on any other day of the championship event.

This is the "current" situation at the 27th AIDA Depth World Championship. I will continue to keep you posted about further events, so stay tuned.

Day 6 of competition (Spetember 27)

Start list CNF - MEN

UPDATE: Due to strong current at depth, all start times will be delayed by 1 hour. The first OT is at 9:00 (Cyprus time, UTC+3) for Pavlos Kourtellas.

On the seventh day of the Championship, athletes will continue their efforts to compete in CNF.

Finally, a very rare thing has happened. There is a man in this competition who announced a deeper depth than Alexey Molchanov himself. This hero is Petar Klovar of Croatia with a bid of 95m/312ft.

The current AIDA World Record, belonging to William Trubridge, is 102m/335ft. The record was set during his second attempt at it at an individual world record attempt in the perfect conditions of Dean's Blue Hole in the Bahamas. Before this day, there have been only two athletes in official competition who only twice reached depths deeper than 95m/312ft. William Trubridge and Alexey Molchanov dived to 97m/318ft and 96m/315ft, respectively, in Roatán, Honduras, in the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea. Until now, no one at an official competition has dived this deep in CNF in the Mediterranean Sea.

I believe that on this Monday morning, eyes, thoughts and prayers of hundreds of freediving fans will be with you! Go, Petar! You can do it!

No less luck will be needed by Alexey Molchanov and Vitomir Maričić, as they are also diving very deep to 92m/302ft and 81m/266ft, respectively. The fourth highest announcement of 78m/253ft belongs to Abdelatif Alouach.

Needless to say, athletes do not yet know what conditions await them underwater. If there is a current again, fulfilling their announcement in CNF might be extremely complicated.

Don’t miss the show and your opportunity to cheer on the brave freedivers who deserve your attention and support. Set your alarms for the dive times of the deepest athletes (Cyprus time, UTC+3):
8:50 a.m. - Petar Klovar
9:00 a.m. - Alexey Molchanov
9:10 a.m. - Vitomir Maričić
9:20 a.m. - Abdelatif Alouach

Good luck to all the athletes! The broadcast is available on the AIDA Freediving YouTube channel.

Official results CNF - MEN

September 27 was the day the men of the 27th AIDA World Championship in Limassol, Cyprus, competed in CNF. In comparison with the previous day where the women competed in CNF, September 27 was not as unfortunate for the athletes, but yet still full of unpleasant surprises.

If you remember, the deepest announcement of 95m/315ft belonged to Petar Klovar of Croatia. This dive was supposed to become the new AIDA National Record of Croatia and the deepest official CNF performance in the Mediterranean Sea. But unfortunately, it was not to be. Petar reached the depth successfully, but on the way back he experienced an underwater blackout at about 15m/49ft underwater and was returned to the surface by the safety team. Fortunately, Petar is already feeling better again, however, because of the severe blackout, AIDA rules do not permit him to continue competing in this Championship. I wish Petar better luck next time and am looking forward to seeing him perform at the next Championship.

The next dive competitor was Alexey Molchanov with a shallower announcement of 92m/302ft. At first, it seemed like Alexey may manage the dive successfully, however, he made an early turn at 89m/292ft. Regrettably, Alexey still blacked out at the surface and did not manage the surface protocol, so he received a red card and disqualification for his performance. However, Alexey's surface blackout is classified as a mild one, which is why we will still see his performance in CWT in the last day of the World Championship. Alexey is also feeling fine, and was quoted saying that his main mistake was arriving to Cyprus too late, right before the championship event began. Upon his arrival (only two days before the competition), Alexey had two deep training sessions almost every day in addition to competition dives on the other days. We now know that even the best athletes need rest.

After these two blackouts from the strongest athletes of the day, the judges were understandably worried. That was why the following start of Vitomir Maričić of Croatia was postponed for 20 minutes while he was in the middle of packing for his dive. However, it miraculously did not discourage the athlete, and Vitomir managed to complete his dive successfully. He reached 81m/266ft of depth, but did not grab the tag and sacrificed one point from his performance, earning a total of 80 points for his dive. Vitomir already knew the results of Petar and Alexey, and the announcement of the next athlete was 3m/10ft less than Vitomir’s, which is why he didn’t need the tag to win the gold medal and the World Championship title in CNF. Congratulations, Vitomir, for your well-deserved first place! You demonstrated a beautiful dive and true freediving equanimity in rather tough emotional conditions!

Photo by Jacob Lee

Abdelatif Alouach of France was the first athlete among the deepest who not only reached the announced 78m/256ft depth, but also brought the tag back to the surface, managed the surface protocol, and received a white card. This made Abdel Vice-champion in CNF! Congratulations, Abdel! It is a pleasure to see your pure joy after a successful surface protocol!

Photo by Jacob Lee

There was a 5m/16ft difference between the announcements of the next two participants, Dean Chaouche of the UK and Giannis Kothonidis of Greece. That is why Dean repeated the tactic of Vitomir and sacrificed grabbing the tag in order to save some time and ensure that he would manage the surface protocol. Again, this worked perfectly, and although Dean lost 2 points and received yellow card, he still won the bronze medal. Wisely done, Dean! Congratulations!

Photo by Jacob Lee

I am personally very happy to see Vitomir as a winner, but cannot help feeling disheartened for Petar and Alexey. Therefore, I am glad to leave this both exciting and complicated competition day behind.

The deepest and most beautiful discipline of freediving, CWT, awaits us in the last two days of the Championship. I am looking forward to seeing athletes flying underwater with monofins (with some of them walking with bifins).

We already have the men's results in 3 out of 4 disciplines, and may be able to guess at who will be the most likely winner of the honorable Natalia Molchanova Memorial Award. Have you already guessed who it will be?

Day 7 of competition (September 28)

Start list CWT - WOMEN

On the last two days of the 27th AIDA World Championship, athletes will compete in the deepest freediving discipline - CWT.

As tradition goes, the women will compete in CWT first. Since the current world record holder in CWT for both CMAS (122m/400ft) and AIDA (114m/374ft), Alenka Artnik of Slovenia, and her closest rival, Alessia Zecchini of Italy, are not participating in the Championship, the deepest announcements are quite moderate and do not touch 100m/328ft.

The main favorite of this year’s World Championship is Marianna Gillespie of France, who announced the deepest bid of 98m/322ft. In September 2021, in Kalamata, Greece, Marianna performed a successful dive to 102m/335ft, so I hope that she will easily manage the 4m/13ft shallower depth.

Alena Konečná of the Czech Republic and Jennifer Wendland of Germany also have announcements deeper than 90m/295ft. They will be diving to 94m/308ft and 91m/299ft, respectively.

Following their performances are a group of two Czech and two Russian athletes with announcements of over 80m/262ft, who may steal a medal if any of the top athletes make a mistake. They are Alena Konečná of the Czech Republic (83m/272ft), Tatiana Zemskikh and Olga Davydova of Russia (82m/269ft and 80m/262ft), and Irena Váňová of the Czech Republic (80m).

In addition, six athletes have planned to set new national records for their countries.

The dive times of the deepest athletes and Molchanovs Ambassador Olga Markina are as follows (Cyprus time, UTC+3):
9:20 a.m. - Marianna Gillespie
9:25 a.m. - Alena Konečná
9:30 a.m. - Jennifer Wendland
9:35 a.m. - Sofía Gómez Uribe
9:40 a.m. - Tatiana Zemskikh
10:05 a.m. - Olga Markina

I wish the best of luck to all the athletes! The broadcast is available to watch on the AIDA Freediving YouTube channel:

Official results in CWT - WOMEN

On September 28, the penultimate day of the 27th AIDA World Championship, the women performed in CWT. After all of the complications of previous days, the sea has finally gifted athletes with perfect diving conditions: no waves and no current. However, expecting the worst, athletes made quite moderate announcements. Therefore, for the entire day, there was not only any blackouts, but also not even a single red card. Only 9 yellow cards were given out of 41 performances.

Therefore, the trio of winners was determined very quickly, and I daresay that it was rather uneventful. All the athletes with the deepest announcements had smooth and easy dives, and it seemed like they all had big depth reserves.

Let's celebrate our CWT winners:
1st place - Marianne Gillespie of France (98m/322ft)
2nd place - Alena Konečná of the Czech Republic (91m/299ft)
3rd place and new AIDA German National Record - Jennifer Wendland of Germany (91m)

Congratulations, ladies, on your beautiful performances! I hope you will continue your way down into the deep and that we will see you at even bigger depths next season!

The main intrigue was the battle for the fourth place. National Record Holder of Colombia Sofía Gómez Uribe and Russian athlete Tatiana Zemskikh had only a 1m/3ft difference between their bids. Sofía cancelled her start at the last moment (presumably because of her runny nose) and Tatiana's announcement was 5m/16ft deeper than her previous personal best record. Even Tatiana was very surprised with herself when she managed this depth cleanly and received a well-deserved white card. Congratulations, Tatiana! You nailed it!


In addition, for the first time in this World Championship, all attempts at AIDA National Records planned for the day were successful. I gladly congratulate the following athletes on their new national records for their countries:

  • Laia Sopeña Spa - 72m/236ft - AIDA National Record of Spain
  • Sanda Delija - 71m/233ft - AIDA National Record of Croatia
  • I Ming Hou - 66m/217ft - AIDA National Record of Taiwan
  • Katsiaryna Spiryna - 50m/164ft - AIDA National Record of Belarus
  • Sandrine Heslouis - 36m/118ft - AIDA National Record of Luxembourg

If you missed the broadcast of the 7th competition day, I strongly recommend that you watch it now and show the video to your friends and family who have never heard of freediving before. It is a rare example of a calm and joyful freediving competition day full of new personal bests, national records, and clean, safe dives - freediving competitions as they always should be.

Day 8 of competition (September 29)

Start list CWT - MEN

Ladies and gentlemen, are you ready for the final day of the 27th AIDA World Championship?

On September 29 in Limassol, Cyprus, the men will compete against each other in the deepest competitive discipline of freediving, the beautiful CWT.

 

Predictably, the deepest announcement of 125m/410ft belongs to, without a doubt, the world leader in this discipline, Alexey Molchanov. I hope you remember that Alexey has remained the absolute world record holder in CWT for the past nine years. This year at Vertical Blue 2021, he improved his own record by 1m/3ft, diving to an incredible 131m/439ft of depth. In Vertical Blue 2018, Alexey dived to 130m/427ft for the first time, and at the 26th AIDA World Championship in 2019, Alexey also dived this depth in the cool waters of the Mediterranean Sea. But two days ago, Alexey experienced a mild surface blackout after his CNF dive, which may be a reason why Alexey did not announce his maximum. I wish Alexey a relaxed and easy dive under full control!

If Alexey wants the gold medal, then he cannot make even a small mistake because the next announcement is only 2m/6ft shallower. It belongs to another Russian athlete, Andrey Matveenko. Andrey is a very experienced athlete who has been Vice-champion in CWT after Alexey for two years in a row. I hope Andrey will continue this lovely tradition and stand next to Alexey on a pedestal again. Good luck, Andrey! I know you can do it!

The third announcement is already 14m/46ft less than the previous two. But it is no wonder, because Abdelatif Alouach of France, even in CWT, competes with his favorite bifins. Abdel is a unique athlete with tremendous resistance to hypoxia, and therefore can have very long dive times. His best performance with bifins was to 115m/377ft, so if Abdel isn't already exhausted from performing in this championship event, he should manage the announced 109m/358ft depth easily. Rest well and get it done, Abdel!

And again, if Abdel aims for the medal, he will need to perform his dive impeccably. This is because, to my surprise, the Greek athlete Christos Karelos, who experienced an underwater blackout during his CWTB dive on the first day of the championship, has been permitted to compete again. His announcement is an impressive 108m/354ft. I hope Christos has recovered and is strong enough for a successful dive. It is his debut in the World Championship, therefore, I am personally rooting for him. I do not know what it is like for other freediving fans, but I really enjoy seeing new talented athletes joining freediving.

Then begins the most interesting part. Four athletes announced almost the same depths of 100-101m (328-331ft). Sergey Zykov of Russia, Vitomir Maričić of Croatia, Mathieu Maraio of France, and Evgeny Sychev of Russia will all attempt to officially rejoin the 100 Club in CWT. May the force be with you guys!

In addition, three athletes have planned to set new national records for their countries.

The dive times of the deepest athletes are as follows (Cyprus time, UTC+3):
9:29 a.m. - Alexey Molchanov
9:39 a.m. - Andrey Matveenko
9:49 a.m. - Abdelatif Alouach
9:59 a.m. - Christos Karelos
10:09 a.m. - Sergey Zykov
10:19 a.m. - Vitomir Maričić
10:29 a.m. - Mathieu Maraio
10:39 a.m. - Evgeny Sychev

I wish that every detail of the athletes’ dives are perfect and that there are ideal sea conditions for everyone to find success! The broadcast is available to watch on the AIDA Freediving YouTube channel:

Preliminary results CWT - MEN

The final day of 27th AIDA World Championship, where the men competed in CWT, left behind all other days in the number of unresolved difficulties and issues. Even now, three winners in CWT are not yet defined. This will be clarified on September 30, the official competition back-up day.

But let's start with good news. First of all, our beloved Alexey Molchanov dived successfully and beautifully to 125m/410ft. A white card and the title of World Champion in CWT belongs to him. In total, Alexey received 3 out of 4 gold medals. Congratulations, Alexey!

By the way, did you enjoy the Cyprus Edition monofin Alexey used for his dive? I believe it is a beautiful piece of equipment and very unique. Check the broadcast with Alexey's dive if you missed it to admire it for yourself.

Abdelatif Alouach of France reached 109m/358ft of depth with bifins and became very emotional once judges granted him a well-deserved white card. I believe his tears were tears of pure happiness that all of his performances in this complicated Championship are finally over and were successful. Congratulations, Abdel! You nailed it!

The next good news is that another Molchanovs ambassador, Vitomir Maričić of Croatia, performed his 101m/331ft dive successfully and was given a white card. Debutant of this championship, Sergey Zykov of Russia, also brought the tag from 101m of depth and exchanged it with judges for a white card. However, at the end of 8th competition day, we still do not yet know whether Vitomir or Sergey won a medal...which I will soon explain.

I am afraid that this was all the good news of this day. All other events that occurred, I would label as "strange" in the least.

To start with, twice vice-champion in CWT in 2018 and 2019, Andrey Matveenko of Russia, must be mentioned. Andrey had the second deepest announcement of the day to 123m/404ft, only 2m/7ft less than Alexey’s own announcement. Andrey reached the bottom plate, grabbed the tag, and even surfaced. But just before surfacing, he lost the dive line and spent too much trying reach it at the surface, therefore he did not manage the surface protocol. This resulted in a very unfortunate red card and disqualification, but it was still a very impressive dive! I wish Andrey better luck for the next Championship!

Then, an even stranger thing happened. As you may remember, on the first day of the World Championship, Christos Karelos of Greece blacked out at 20m/66ft of depth after returning from 100m/328ft with bifins. According to AIDA rules, this classified his blackout as severe, therefore disqualifying the athlete from competing for the rest of the competition. However, Christos decided he wanted to perform in CWT on the last day of competition. And somehow, he was allowed to do so. Consequently, Christos successfully dived to 108m/354ft and received a white card. Although I was confused to see Christos among the competitors on the final competition day, I was also very excited about his success. Just imagine getting a bronze medal in your first-ever World Championship and standing together on the podium with freediving stars such as Alexey Molchanov and Abdelatif Alouach. It could have been a very beautiful and special moment. But not this time, unfortunately. Shortly after their ruling, judges have realized that letting Christos compete in this Championship again was against AIDA rules. And so they decided to give him a red card for his perfectly clean dive.

Predictably, Christos tried to protest against this decision because there was no mistake from his side; he was permitted to dive and he did just so. Judges declined the protest and charged Christos 50EUR for protesting.

This is not all. In theory, if Christos was permitted to dive during the same championship event after a severe blackout, why couldn’t Fatima Korok of Hungary and Marine Simonis of Belgium also repeat their CNF dives? They both blacked out at shallower depths due to strong current before the rest of the competition day was cancelled. Unfortunately, there is no answer.

I honestly don't know how to comment on the situation in a way that my editor would let me publish it.

Let's instead move on to another athlete, Mathieu Maraio of France. Mathieu dived to 101m/331ft (as did Vitomir and Sergey). But on his way down, the official computer unexpectedly signaled him at 30m/98ft, which confused and disturbed the athlete. Although he reached the target depth, he suffered a mild blackout on the surface. Mathieu protested and was permitted to perform again on the competition back-up day of September 30. Hopefully, the athlete still has enough strength to perform his dive again so soon.

That is why we are all here now, waiting and hoping that somehow all of this will come to a peaceful, if not happy ending.

Additionally, I know that you all may have been waiting for my comments on the unmistakably political issue that suddenly occurred on the 7th day of the Championship. However, I am only a sports columnist, and I am not competent enough to publicly express my opinion on political matters. This is why I have continued to speak purely about the freediving at this competition and not the political matter at hand. But be sure that I am very well-aware of the situation and that my heart is aching that these issues affect our sport and our athletes.

Back-up day of competition (September 30)

Start list

On the back-up day of the 27th AIDA World Championship, the athletes performing are athletes whose dives were previously cancelled due to bad weather conditions or judges' mistakes.

On this day, the destiny of three CNF medals will be decided among the women, and a CWT bronze medal among the men.

The main contenders for medals in CNF are Jennifer Wendland of Germany (58m/190ft), Marianna Gillespie of France (57m/187ft), Yasuko Ozeki of Japan (52m/171ft), and Yulia Marievich of Latvia (52m).

Also, Vera Giampietro of Switzerland will attempt a dive to 63m/207ft in FIM to set a new AIDA National Record for her country, and Mathieu Maraio of France will attempt another dive to 101m/331ft in CWT.

The dive times of the deepest athletes are as follows (Cyprus time, UTC+3):
9:00 a.m. - Jennifer Wendland
9:05 a.m. - Marianna Gillespie
9:10 a.m. - Yasuko Ozeki
9:15 a.m. - Yulia Marievich
9:55 a.m. - Sergey Zykov
10:19 a.m. - Vera Giampietro
10:00 a.m. - Mathieu Maraio

Good luck to all the athletes, judges, and competition organizers in finishing this Championship in a strong and dignified manner! The broadcast is available to watch on the AIDA Freediving YouTube channel:

Official results

On September 30 in Limassol, Cyprus, the 27th AIDA World Championship came to an end and was concluded with an award ceremony and long-anticipated party.

Photo by Daan Verhoeven

I would like to remind you that the competitions were held in the open Mediterranean Sea (5-6km, or 3.1-3.7 miles away from the coast) with its unpredictable currents, waves, thermoclines, and various surface water temperatures. These conditions are more demanding on an athlete’s body and state of mind. Even the strongest world athletes were getting multi-colored cards, and most depths reached during the Championship were less than current world records in their corresponding disciplines. Organizers even had to use the official back-up day to conclude the competition.

On the back-up day, the women finished their dives in CNF, Vera Giampietro of Switzerland performed in FIM, and Mathieu Maraio of France performed in CWT.

Vera completed her dive to 63m/207ft successfully and set a new AIDA National Record for her country. Mathieu Maraio was permitted to redo his dive to 101m/331ft. On his first attempt on the assigned CWT day, he was given an official dive computer with depth notifications that were activated, which disturbed him and, according to the athlete, led to his surface blackout. Unfortunately, on the back-up day he suffered another surface blackout even with muted signals on the official computer. Although the attempt was not successful, it was still was worth a try because it was a chance to win the bronze medal.

For women, the CNF results on the back-up day were crucial since the winners were yet to be determined.

If you remember, starts were cancelled on the official women’s CNF day (September 26) due to very strong current once the two main favorites in the discipline with deepest announcements, (64m/210ft and 60m/197ft, respectively) Fatima Korok of Hungary and Marine Simonis of Belgium, suffered underwater blackouts.

On the back-up day, the women were very cautious and made their announcements with consideration to the risk of current. Fortunately, the sea was calm and absent of current. That is why all three women with the deepest announcements and the main contenders for medals, Jennifer Wendland of Germany, Marianna Gillespie of France, and Sanda Delija of Croatia, successfully completed their dives to 58m/190ft, 57m/187ft, and 55m/180ft, respectively.

The winners in CNF among women are as follows:
1st place - Jennifer Wendland of Germany (58m/190ft)
2nd place - Marianna Gillespie of France (57m/187ft)
3rd place - Sanda Delija of Croatia (55m/180ft)

Congratulations to all the women who were determined enough to compete for an additional day. Well-deserved performances!

However, some more optimistic athletes hoped that the organizers would hold the competition without using the official back-up day, which is why they bought tickets for morning flights on October 1 and missed the awards ceremony and party.

In particular, Alexey Molchanov, who won 3 gold medals and became AIDA World Champion in CWTB, FIM, and CWT, is known for his optimism and capacity for planning ahead, which is why his departure ticket was scheduled for October 1. That is why his beautiful sister, Oksana Molchanova, accepted Alexey's medals on his behalf. This may have been for the best, because Oksana looked very nice as the only woman on the pedestal with brawny men in the background.

Phot by Daan Verhoeven

The overall winners and awardees of the prestigious Natalia Molchanova Award were the same winners from 2019: Marianna Gillespie and Abdelatif Alouach of France. Both athletes performed in all four disciplines with white cards and medals. In theory, Alexey was the strongest athlete in this championship event and had the best chances of winning the award, however, he lost out on many additional points for his CNF performance due to his surface blackout. We now have more proof that it is always better to make more conservative and modest announcements that you can manage in any conditions.

I am not entirely sure, but it seems that for the first time in the AIDA World Championship, the champions of every discipline were granted not only medals, but also monetary prizes. First place winners were given 1,000EUR, second place was awarded 750EUR, and 500EUR was given to third place recipients. If monetary prizes during the World Championship will become a tradition, it may make the relationships and competition between athletes even more serious. On the other hand, it may develop our sport more and make athletes even more motivated and determined. Only time will tell.

Photo by Daan Verhoeven

I congratulate all the athletes, judges, the safety team, and organizers for this incredible feat in freediving! Despite all of the difficulties, arguments, and misunderstandings, I believe that the World Championship in general was a success: all athletes are alive and healthy, all medals and awards were given, and thousands of photos were takes. Congratulations to all! And now we move on to Kaş, Turkey.


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