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1. Preview and Pre-competition Forecast
2. Competition Day 1: CNF Women (21 September)
3. Competition Day 2: CNF Men (22 September)
4. Competition Day 3: CWTB Women (23 September)
5. Competition Day 4: CWTB Men (24 September)
5.1 New AIDA World Record in CWTB (Alexey Molchanov)
5.2 Overall results in CWTB Men
6. Competition Day 5: FIM Women (26 September)
7. Competition Day 6: FIM Men (27 September)
7.1 New Absolute World Record in FIM (Petar Klovar)
7.2 Overall results in FIM Men
8. Competition Day 7: CWT Women (28 September)
9.Competition Day 8: CWT Men (29 September)
9.1 New AIDA World Record in CWT (Alexey Molchanov)
9.2 Overall results in CWT Men
Preview and Pre-competition Forecast
The 31st AIDA Freediving World Championship will be held on September 21 - 29 in Limassol, Cyprus. It is the final top-level event of this year's freediving marathon, which usually consists of two pool World Championships (AIDA and CMAS competitions), two depth World Championships (also AIDA and CMAS), and Vertical Blue (an intriguing private competition where most world records are usually set).
We’ve reported on all of this year’s championship events - read them HERE.
Location and Diving Conditions
Limassol, Cyprus, was also where the 2021 AIDA Depth World Championship took place. We published three articles on three important events in Cyprus to commemorate this place where so many historical freediving moments took place. Read them below:
- Cyprus freediving stories: The first international competition of Natalia Molchanova
- Cyprus Freediving Stories: The first official CWT dive that broke the 100m barrier
- Cyprus Freediving Stories: The Line
To make a long story short, it is enough to say that Limassol, Cyprus, is as famous among freedivers as Villefranche-sur-Mer, France, where the first AIDA Depth World Championship took place in 2005. Limassol was the place where Natalia Molchanova participated in her first international freediving competition (2003, Sony Freediver Open Classic - an international pool and depth freediving competition) and replicated a long-lasting world record by swimming 150m / 492ft in a pool with monofin. It was also the place where, in 2015, a newly established Natalia Molchanova Memorial Award was given to athletes in Limassol for the first time during the AIDA World Depth Championship. The athletes who received the award were Sayuri Kinoshita of Japan and Goran Čolak of Croatia.
It was also in Limassol in 2004 that the 100m (328ft) depth barrier was broken with a monofin during an official competition for the first time. The legendary rivalry for the honor of being the first was between Martin Štěpánek (CZE), Carlos Coste (VEN), and Herbert Nitsch (AUT) during the BIOS Freeology Open Classic competition. Unlike his competitors, Carlos successfully dived to 102m (335ft) and became the first man to complete an official CWT dive beyond the 100m barrier.
Furthermore, in 2015, a dramatic event happened. Guillaume Néry (FRA) attempted to set a new CWT World Record diving with a monofin to a depth of 129m (423ft). But because of a dreadful mistake, his line was set to 139m (456ft). Guillaume didn't realize the line was set incorrectly on his descent, and he reached the dangerous depth successfully. This depth significantly exceeded his limits - he blacked out 10m (33ft) away from the surface. It was only discovered afterward - a piece of tape (depth marker) fell off the dive line without anyone noticing, causing the dive line to be incorrectly marked at 139m. Such an extreme increase of depth (Guillaume's previous dive was 126m (413ft) deep) could have cost him his life, but fortunately, the athlete was in excellent shape and survived with a minor injury. However, Guillaume stopped competing at the top level after that accident and didn't set any more new records.
That accident (and several similar ones) has forever changed the approach to safety during freediving competitions, and it isn’t wrong to say that the current organization of freediving competitions is safer than ever. Therefore, we expect that this championship event will go forth 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)
Schedule and Rules
The World Championship follows AIDA regulations (to learn more about the difference between CMAS and AIDA competitions, check out this article). Spanning eight competition days, athletes will showcase their skills in four different depth disciplines of competitive freediving: Constant Weight with No Fins (CNF), Constant Weight with Bifins (CWTB), Free Immersion (FIM), and Constant Weight (CWT).
Each athlete will have a single attempt to perform in each discipline. Athletes must be mindful of their limits because, according to AIDA rules, blacking out underwater during a dive results in disqualification for at least one day (and, in more severe cases, from the rest of the competition). The World Championship organizers have designated two reserve days to account for unpredictable weather conditions. Additionally, there is a rest day in between (which is particularly important for athletes competing in all four disciplines). Moreover, women and men compete on different days, giving athletes time to recover between deep dives and perform at their maximum potential in each discipline.
The competition schedule is as follows:
September 19 – Registration and Official Training for women
September 20 – Registration and Official Training for men
September 21 – Competition Day 1: CNF Women
September 22 – Competition Day 2: CNF Men
September 23 – Competition Day 3: CWTB Women
September 24 – Competition Day 4: CWTB Men
September 25 – Rest/Backup Day
September 26 –Competition Day 5: FIM Women
September 27 – Competition Day 6: FIM Men
September 28 – Competition Day 7: CWT Women
September 29 – Competition Day 8: CWT Men
September 30– Backup day/ Closing ceremony
Participants and Forecast by Discipline
Several current world record holders and heroes of this season of depth competitions aren’t participating in the World Championship. Alessia Zecchini (ITA), who held three absolute world records in FIM - 101m / 331ft, CWTB - 109m / 358ft, and CWT - 123m / 404ft (with the latter still standing unbeaten), is still recovering from back surgery and is skipping the entire season. We look forward to seeing you back on the line next season, Alessia.
Alenka Artnik (SVN) - the current absolute World Record Holder in CWTB of 111m (364ft) - is also skipping this World Championship, but for an uplifting reason. Alenka recently married her freediving buddy, partner, and love - Florian Burghardt. Congratulations to you both; may you always live and dive side by side!
Kateryna Sadurska (UKR) has already set three absolute world records in CNF this season, improving the world's best result in the discipline from 75m (246ft) to 78m (256ft), and is now having some rest and teaching classes.
However, most of the other current and potential world record holders have already arrived in Cyprus and are getting ready to impress us with extraordinary dives and perhaps new world records. AIDA International has announced the participation of 120 athletes; however, the complete list of competing athletes isn't published yet. So, we will make an assumption about potential winners according to the available information. Perhaps some unexpected events will occur closer to the competition days.
Competition among the women
Without Alessia, Alenka, Kateryna, and Mirela Kardašević (HRV) in this competition list, we don't expect new world records in the CWT, CWTB, and CNF disciplines.
The most probable winners in CWT and CWTB are now Jung A Kim (KOR), Jennifer Wendland (DEU), and Marianna Gillespie (FRA). The athletes have broken the 100m (328ft) barrier with monofins and have personal bests (PBs) of 103 (338ft) and 102m (335ft), respectively.
Enchante Gallardo (USA) with CWT PBs of 96m (315ft) may also be counted on for a medal if someone from the top three makes a mistake or won't dive their maximum.
The most interesting competition among the women is anticipated in FIM. Fatima Korok (HUN) has recently set a new absolute world record in FIM, diving to a depth of 103m (338ft) at Vertical Blue 2023. Sanda Delija (HRV), who is also participating in the World Championship, has already attempted to break Fatima's record for three times. But each time, Sanda turned earlier, not reaching the target depth. The question is if Sanda will risk a medal and announce a world record attempt again or if she will play it safe. And what will Fatima's strategy be? Do you think the athlete will try to secure her position at the top and announce a new world record in FIM, or will she make a moderate announcement to secure a place on the podium? We hope to get answers to these questions soon enough!
Competition among the men
Among male absolute World Record Holders, we are missing only William Trubridge, who still holds his unbeatable absolute World Record of 102m (335ft). William hasn't participated in the past several years of World Championships.
Davide Carerra (ITA), who is one of the three athletes in the 130m+ (427ft+) club in CWT, and Arnaud Jerald (FRA), the former World Record Holder in CWTB, are having a rest after a successful Vertical Blue 2023 and CMAS 7th Freediving Depth World Championship 2023.
The main rivalry in CWT will unwind between Alexey Molchanov (INT) - the absolute World Record Holder of 136m (446ft) - and Andrey Matveenko (INT) - who successfully dived at a depth of 134m (440ft) during the CMAS 7th Freediving Depth World Championship 2023 and became a World Record Holder in CWT for 5 minutes (until Alexey performed his 136m dive directly afterward). It's not clear what shape both the athletes are in and if they had enough time to recover after stressful competitions just a month ago. Besides, diving conditions in the Mediterranean Sea are less comfortable than in the Caribbean. Therefore, it seems that a new world record in CWT isn't likely, but it seems the rivalry for the Champion title will be intense. The main contender for the bronze is Abdelatif Alouach (FRA), whose PB in CWT is 116m (381ft).
In CWTB, Vitomir Maričić (HRV) will join the CWT men in the race for a medal. Vitomir's PB in CWTB is 107m (351ft), so he has a good chance to win the bronze after Alexey, who is the current World Record Holder in CWTB with a result of 124m (407ft), and Abdelatif, who has recently dived 119m (390ft) with bifins.
But even more intense competition is expected in FIM and CNF disciplines. The current World Record Holder in FIM is Alexey Molchanov (INT). During Vertical Blue 2023, he dived to a depth of 134m (440ft), beating the previous FIM World Record of Petar Klovar (HRV) by 1m (3ft). Petar was unable to participate in Vertical Blue 2023, so we couldn't witness Alexey and Petar's race in the discipline. Will the athletes challenge each other now in the Mediterranean Sea? Abdelatif (PB 118m / 387ft), Vitomir (PB 116m / 381ft) and Andrey (PB 111m / 364ft) will compete for the bronze. If someone in this top five makes a mistake, Jay Ku (TPE), whose PB in FIM in 108m (354ft), may also try to steal a medal.
Alexey and Petar will also be the main competitors in CNF. Petar's official PB in CNF is 94m (308ft), reached during the CMAS 6th Freediving Outdoor World Championship 2022. And during the AIDA WCH 2023 PreCompetition, Petar made a 90m (295ft) CNF dive. Alexey's PB and the CMAS World Record in CNF is 100m (328ft) - it was a long-awaited record in CNF, which he eventually reached a month ago at the CMAS World Championship. Will Petar try to beat Alexey's result? Is Alexey now capable of diving the same depth in the cool Mediterranean Sea? We are wondering if this year will mirror the World Championship 2021 in Limassol, where both athletes pushed their limits too far in the midst of their passionate rivalry. If that happens again, Vitomir (PB 84m / 276ft), Abdelatif (PB 83m / 272ft), and Omar Al Ghailani (OMN) will get a chance to medal. Omar's official CNF PB and National Record for Oman is 63m (207ft). He attempted to dive to 77m (253ft) at the AIDA WCH 2023 PreCompetition, but there was a strong current that day and Omar unfortunately blacked out at the surface. But it seems that, in better conditions, this depth is a realistic target for the athlete.
Are you thrilled, yet? The 31st AIDA Freediving World Championship has come! The competition promises to be fierce, and the results are sure to leave everyone in awe.
We hope the legendary location will give some extra energy and determination to all the athletes and organizers so the World Championship goes smoothly, safely, and successfully. Make sure you don't miss out on witnessing these performances firsthand!
The online broadcast will be available on September 21st on the AIDA YouTube channel at approximately 9 a.m. (GMT+2). If you’re unable to watch the competition live, stick with us - we’ll keep you updated with daily reports on all the exciting events of the World Championship.
Competition Day 1: CNF Women (21 September)
September 21st was the first competition day of the 31st AIDA Freediving World Championship in Limassol, Cyprus. The announced depths were not so outrageous, and the weather was perfect for freediving. This isn't typical for Cyprus - in 2015 and 2019, when the World Championship was held in the same location, organizers had to cancel CNF dives after a series of blackouts caused by a strong current. However, it seems that not only the weather that can cause a string of red cards. With an unexpected outcome, keep reading for more details.
At this World Championship, men and women perform on different days, and the women competed in Constant Weight with No Fins (CNF) on the first day of the event. The dives were arranged from shallowest to deepest, and then back to shallowest with one 30-minute break between 2 sessions. This means the deepest dives were performed in the middle of the day.
Unfortunate red cards
Only 2 out of 8 of the deepest athletes received white cards. They were Jennifer Wendland (DEU) and Tatiana Zemskikh (INT), who dived to depths of 56m (184ft) and 58m (190ft), respectively. Alice Ellialtioglu (TUR), who dived to 59m (194ft), also received a white card at first. But after reviewing her dive, the judges changed their decision and gave the athlete a red card for a pull made above the permitted 2-meter area at the end of the dive line.
The next announcement of 61m (200ft) belonged to Maria Bobela (POL). Maria reached the target depth and returned to the surface with a lot of effort. Alas, she blacked out at the surface.
Enchante Gallardo (USA) reached a 62m (203ft) of depth. But on her way back to the surface, the athlete realized that she didn't have enough strength to complete her dive and started to pull her way back up from 25m (82ft). Fortunately, a safety with a scooter brought her back to the surface. Enchante stayed conscious but received a red card.
Two French athletes, Marianna Gillespie and Brigitte Banegas, both announced a new French National Record for 63m (207ft). Surprisingly, both received red cards. Marianna and Brigitte reached their target depth, but didn't make it back to the surface on their own. Marianna lost consciousness several meters before the surface and ascended in the arms of the safeties. Brigitte blacked out at about 10m (33ft) of depth with safeties carrying her up.
The importance of being modest with APs
And even the dive for the World Champion title was with a yellow card. Sanda Delija (HRV) announced the deepest dive of the day at 71m (233ft) and reached the depth successfully. However, on her way back, she lost the tag and received a single-point penalty and a yellow card. Nevertheless, Sanda still won the gold medal. Congratulations, Champion!
As you may have guessed, the sequence of blackouts brought the silver and bronze medals to the hands of Jennifer Wendland (DEU) and Tatiana Zemskikh (INT) with depths of 56m (184ft) and 58m (190ft), respectively. Jennifer's PB in CNF is 60m (197ft), while Tatiana successfully dived to 60m (197ft) in the three training sessions before the World Championship. Yet both athletes decided to play safe and made conservative announced performances (APs). With the extra excitement and stressful conditions of the World Championship, this turned out to be the best strategy. Even the dives several meters shallower than the athletes' PBs weren't easy ones. At the surface, Jennifer, had a brief LMC but composed herself, eventually showing the surface protocol in time for the judges. Tatiana also looked markedly tired in the last several meters but completed her dive with great focus and determination. Congratulations, Tatiana and Jennifer, on well-deserved silver and bronze medals!
New national records
The second half of the day went in a more positive direction. Only one athlete blacked out at the surface and two others received yellow cards for an early turn and no tag. All 5 planned national records were successfully set by the following athletes:
Natalia Wilk (POL) - 53m (174ft) and new AIDA National Record for Poland
Shlomit Wallerstein (ISR) - 46m (151ft) and new AIDA National Record for Israel
Nikita Fima Atriyu (IND) - 45m (148ft) and new AIDA National Record for Indonesia
Jiaoyi Li (HKG) - 41m (135ft) and new AIDA National Record for Hong Kong
Syafidatul Azua Shafii (MYS) - 41m (135ft) and a new AIDA National Record for Malaysia
Congratulations, ladies, on the new national records for your countries!
On the second competition day of the World Championship, it will be the men's turn to perform in CNF. They have planned several great dives, so make sure to stay tuned!
Competition Day 2: CNF Men (22 September)
September 22nd was the second competition day of the 31st AIDA Freediving World Championship in Limassol, Cyprus. It was the men's turn to perform in the Constant Weight with No Fins (CNF) discipline, but the story from the first competition day seemed to be on repeat - an unusually tranquil sea and perfect weather conditions for CNF dives, yet a series of colored cards for mistakes and athletes exceeding personal limits. As a result, the winners turned out to be something of a surprise. Let's dive into more details.
There were 37 performances throughout the day. Similarly, as on the previous day, the performances were sorted from shallowest to deepest, then from deepest to the shallowest with one 30-minute break in-between. The depths ranged from 30 - 95m (98 - 312ft).
Unfortunate red cards
At first, the men were trending positively and the first 6 dives performed ended in white cards. But then, the 7 deepest dives to depths of 70m+ (230ft+) all resulted in colored cards. Vivien Richard (FRA) and Jesper Lauridsen (DEU) announced 72m (236ft) and 75m (246ft), respectively, but both turned early and received yellow cards. On the contrary, Omar Al Ghailani (OMA) reached his announced depth of 77m (253ft) but had a light underwater blackout and received a red card. Abdelatif Alouach (FRA) - the main contender for the silver medal - was the only one who, at first , received a white card for his strong and very confident dive to 86m (282ft). But alas, after reviewing the video of Abdelatif's dive, the judges changed their decision and gave him a red card for a pull made above the 2-meter zone at the bottom.
Therefore, bronze medal eventually went to Gennady Roshchin (INT), who performed a clean dive at a depth of 67m (220ft) and received a white card. Congratulations, Gennady, on the bronze medal and a successful debut at the World Championship!
No tag, no problem
The silver and gold went to Vitomir Maričić (HRV) and Petar Klovar (HRV). Both Croatian athletes successfully reached the announced target depths of 84m (276ft) and 95m (312ft), respectively, in a relaxed and confident manner. Congratulations to the World Champion and Vice-Champion in CNF - what impressive performances!
However, the dives resulted in yellow cards and with a point penalty because both athletes didn't grab the tags from the bottom plate. AIDA International introduced obligatory tags in 2007. It was almost a pre-historic time for freediving; a time before Diveye and underwater broadcasts. And while athletes dived with underwater computers, the depths the computers showed could vary by 1 - 3m (3 - 10ft), which can pose a serious question of medals and titles. The only indisputable way to prove that athletes reached the target depth was to bring a tag from a bottom plate set at that target depth.
Now, the tag is more like a tradition than a necessity. The fact of reaching the target depth today can be attested by several hundred people watching the online broadcast. The lost or untouched tag leads only to a point penalty. So, if athletes are sure that their announced depth is much deeper than depths announced or performed by their competitors, they can skip grabbing the tag to save time and energy.
The tag is a must only if an athlete is aiming for a world or national record. A record won’t be verified if an athlete doesn't bring a tag and receives a yellow card.
New national records
On the other hand, sometimes an attempt to secure the tag may cost a record itself. Necati Gul (TUR) completed a 54m (177ft) dive, aiming to set a new AIDA National Record for Turkey. He reached the target depth, grabbed the tag, and tried to put it inside his hood. But the tag slipped out of his hands - while catching it, Necati accidentally made a pull over the permitted 2-meter zone of the ‘candy cane.’ At the surface, Necati received a white card at first. However, after reviewing the video of Necati's dive, the judges noticed his mistake and disqualified the athlete. You'll get it next time, Necati!
Three other athletes managed to set new AIDA National Records for their countries:
Amin Jadidi Fighan (IRN) - 51m (167ft) and a new AIDA National Record for Iran
Anas Chair (MAR) - 44m (144ft) and a new AIDA National Record for Morocco
Alexandros Polemitis (CYP) - 43m (141ft) and a new AIDA National Record for Cyprus
Congratulations to all the athletes on their new National Records!
Meanwhile, the World Championship is moving forward. On the 3rd day, the women will compete in Constant Weight with Bifins. Stay tuned and root for the athletes!
Competition Day 3: CWTB Women (23 September)
On September 23rd, the third competition day of the 31st AIDA Freediving World Championship in Limassol, Cyprus, the women competed in Constant Weight with Bifins (CWTB) discipline. Here are the results of the day.
The main difficulty in the CWTB discipline is that dolphin kicks are forbidden. According to AIDA rules, any dolphin kick in CWTB will result in disqualification (athletes competing in a CMAS competition can perform a single dolphin kick in the 3m / 10ft turning zone).
The weather in Limassol remained unusually fine for the third day in a row. The conditions for freediving were perfect, and 33 out of 37 athletes reached their targets depths, which ranged from 40 - 95m (131 - 312ft).
Only 4 athletes made early turns and received yellow cards for reaching shallower depths than they announced. This was a unique and happy day for the safeties - no one blacked out and no one needed rescue! Three red cards were given for mistakes during dives, which judges noticed after reviewing the videos: two red cards for a pull over the permitted 2m (7ft) ‘candy cane’ zone and one red card for a dolphin kick.
All the deepest dives of the day ended with white cards, so the podium looked exactly as we predicted:
1st place - Marianna Gillespie (FRA) - 95m (312ft)
2nd place - Jung A Kim (KOR) - 94m (308ft) and a new AIDA Continental Record for Asia
3rd place - Enchante Gallardo (USA) - 90m (295ft) and a new AIDA Continental Record for North America
Congratulations to the winners!
Additionally, six new AIDA National Records were set during the day by the following athletes:
Maria Bobela (POL) - 78m (256ft) and a new AIDA National Record for Poland
Sanda Delija (HRV) - 80m (262ft) and a new AIDA National Record for Croatia
Marta Gil (ESP) - 74m (243ft) and a new AIDA National Record for Spain
Nikita Fima Atriyu (INA) - 65m (213ft) and a new AIDA National Record for Indonesia
Yulia Marievich (LAT) - 64m (210ft) and a new AIDA National Record for Latvia
Anni Højgaard (DEN) - 43m (141ft) and a new AIDA National Record for Denmark
Congratulations to the national record holders!
On the fourth competition day, the men will perform in CWTB with a new world record attempt on the line - make sure you don't miss it!
NEW AIDA WORLD RECOD IN CWTB
On September 24, during fourth competition day of the 31st AIDA Freediving World Championship in Limassol, Cyprus Alexey Molchanov (INT) set a new AIDA World Record in Constant Weight with Bifins (CWTB) diving at a depth of 123m.
AIDA and CMAS records
It was a long and relaxed dive, which took 4 minutes 33 seconds. On the surface, Alexey was focused and breathed for recovery before starting the surface protocol. Everything was done clearly and accurately.
The previous AIDA World Record was set by Arnaud Jerald (FRA) during Vertical Blue 2023. Arnaud and Alexey traditionally retake each other's world records in CWTB since 2019, when Arnaud set the first world record in CWTB of 108m after its recognition as a separate discipline. But during Vertical Blue 2023, Alexey didn't have a chance to retake Arnaud's AIDA record because of a severe blackout during the attempt to retake the CNF World Record of 103m.
So, Alexey didn't lose his chance during the CMAS 7th Freediving Depth World Championship 2023, when he dove at a depth of 124m in the welcoming Caribbean Sea and set an absolute World Record in CWTB. Now, during the AIDA World Championship, Alexey has proved to be the best once again, performing just a meter shallower dive in the cool Mediterranean Sea.
Congratulations, Alexey! New world records seem like a routine thing for you, and we didn't doubt you for a moment!
Alexey’s records in 2023
For Alexey, this record became 34th in his freediving career if to count only the official records set according to AIDA and CMAS rules. Only this year, Alexey has set 9 new World records as follows:
- March 2023 - 153m and 156m - two AIDA World Records in non-competitive discipline Variable Weight (VWT) on BonAbyss`23 AIDA
- May 2023 - 121m - absolute World Record in CWTB set according to the AIDA rules during AIDA OCEANQUEST PHILIPPINES
- June 2023 - 133m - absolute World Record in CWT set according to the CMAS rules during the CMAS 10th Outdoor Freediving French Championship
- July 2023 - 133m - absolute World Record in FIM set according to AIDA rules during Vertical Blue 2023
- July 2023 - 133m - absolute World Record in CWT set this time according to AIDA rules during Vertical Blue 2023
- August 2023 - 136m - absolute World Record in CWT set according to CMAS rules during CMAS 7th Freediving Depth World Championship 2023
- August 2023 - 100m - CMAS World Record in CNF set during CMAS 7th Freediving Depth World Championship 2023
- August 2023 - 124m - absolute World Record in CWTB set according to CMAS rules during CMAS 7th Freediving Depth World Championship 2023
- September 2023 - 123m - AIDA World Record in CWTB set during the 31st AIDA Freediving World Championship
Alexey says that competition in freediving is rising, which is good for sports development and for his personal motivation. It is getting more challenging for him to be the best one in all disciplines. So, perhaps, in the future, Alexey may focus only on his favourite fin disciplines. Yet this year, he set new records in all depth disciplines. This is simply beyond imagination!
And the year isn't over yet! Do you think Alexey will manage to set even more records this year?
Competition Day 4: CWTB Men (24 September)
September 24th was the fourth competition day of the 31st AIDA Freediving World Championship in Limassol, Cyprus. It was the day the men competed in Constant Weight with Bifins (CWTB) - let's check out the results of the day.
There were 40 competitors, and 25 of them received white cards. Some of the athletes made risky decisions planning their performances, yet none of them blacked out. All red cards were given for mistakes made during dives: grab, dolphin kick, failed surface protocol, and dipped airways.
Depths ranged from 40 - 123m (131 - 404ft). Eight dives were to depths of 100m+ (328ft+).
By the way, the weather conditions remain perfect for diving in Limassol. There are no currents, waves, or wind for the fourth day in a row, even though the competition is taking place in the open sea 1km (0.6mi) from the shore. Athletes are lucky this year.
Red and yellow
The first and most unfortunate red card went to Gary McGrath (GBR). Gary performed a confident and clean dive to a depth of 100m (328ft), which was supposed to become a new national record for the UK. However, after taking off his nose clip (this is the moment the surface protocol starts), Gary waved his hand to show he was fine, and then continued performing the protocol with the OK sign and "I'm OK" pronouncement. Unfortunately, according to AIDA rules, any additional gestures or words during the surface protocol are counted as mistakes and are the reasons for disqualifications. We feel for you, Gary, and are rooting for your success next time!
Vitomir Maričić (HRV) swiftly dived with bifins to a depth of 105m (344ft) and, once again, didn't grab the tag from the bottom plate. This is the second time this happened at the World Championship. During his CNF dive, Vitomir also didn't grab the tag and received a point penalty, This didn't influence the final outcome as the dive was much deeper than those of his fellow competitors, so Vitomir made it to the podium with a silver medal. However, this time, Vitomir's computer showed that he reached a depth of 104m (341ft) while he announced 105m. This means that his realized performance was 1m (3ft) shallower than his announced performance. For that, Vitmor lost 2 more points from his point total, resulting in 102 total points instead of 105 and his falling behind from 4th to 5th place in the discipline ranking. We're curious to see if he'll keep ignoring tags in his future performances.
The three deepest men performed their dives without mistakes and with white cards. Abdelatif Alouach (FRA) announced a dive 3m (10ft) shallower than his personal best in CWTB. A month ago, during the CMAS 7th Freediving Depth World Championship 2023, Abdelatif dived to 119m (390ft), so this dive to 116m (381ft) was an easy task for the athlete. At the surface, Abdelatif looked as fresh as if he dived half of his announced distance, and with a lot of composure at the surface. Congratulations, Vice-Champion!
Andrey Matveenko (INT), on the contrary, was very tired at the end of his dive. The athlete is focused on CWT discipline this year. During the CMAS 7th Freediving Depth World Championship 2023, Andrey dived to 134m (440ft) and, for five minutes, became the deepest man on the Earth until Alexey Molchanov (INT) took the title back with a 136m (446ft) dive. Andrey barely had time to train CWTB, but still announced a new depth of 111m (364ft). The athlete reached the target depth successfully; however, at the end of the dive, he did several arm strokes, like in CNF, to propel himself upward. Still, at the surface, Andrey focused and performed the protocol correctly. Congratulations to Andrey on the bronze!
Alexey Molchanov (INT) did a very bold thing. Most competitive freedivers have a saying that it's a very bad idea to change your equipment before a dive, especially before a dive during the World Championships (not to mention world record dives). Well, Alexey isn't superstitious and often doesn't have his own set of equipment - in fact, he could easily sell his fins at a discount to lucky fans who have the same foot size. These unique fins, which have been to such unreachable depths, should be placed in a museum or sold for double the price - but Alexey is kind. He came to the World Championship without his own pair of PRO Hyper Bifins Carbon and had to borrow a pair of PRO Hyper Bifins Fiberglass, ones several sizes bigger than the fins he's used to diving with. This didn't hinder Alexey at all from announcing an AIDA World Record dive just 1m (3ft) less than his PB and the absolute World Record in CWTB of 124m (407ft). Slowly, yet confidently, Alexey reached 123m (404ft) depth, returned to the surface, breathed, and completed the surface protocol. A new AIDA World Record in CWTB - check! Congratulations, Alexey - you are undoubtable!
Note: This stunt was performed by a professional, don't try this at home - get your own pair of fins!
New national records
The following men have also successfully set new AIDA National Records for their countries:
100m / 328ft - Omar Al Ghailani (OMA) - new AIDA National Record for Oman
90m / 295ft - Alfredo Roen Martin (ESP) - new AIDA National Record for Spain
89m / 292ft - Peter Balck (SWE) - new AIDA National Record for Sweden
85m / 279ft - Tommi Pasanen (FIN) - new AIDA National Record for Finland
82m / 269ft - Matti Eronen (FIN) - new AIDA National Record for Finland
75m / 246ft - Amin Jadidi Fighan (IRN) - new AIDA National Record for Iran
40m / 131ft - Nemanja Randjic (SRB) - new AIDA National Record for Serbia
Congratulations to all the athletes, judges, and the safety team! Half of the World Championship is over, and September 25th is a well-deserved day off in Limassol. Enjoy and recharge for the second half of the event. We look forward to seeing you back!
Competition Day 5: FIM Women (26 September)
September 26th, the fifth competition day of the 31st AIDA Freediving World Championship, is over. It's time to speak about the results - keep reading if you want to know more about cursed nose clips, new records, and winners!
On the fifth day, the women competed in the Free Immersion (FIM) discipline. In previous days, the weather and diving conditions were stable and blissful for athletes. However, on the fifth day, current appeared and complicated the athletes' important work. This resulted in 15 out of 37 performances ending in colored cards, with 3 of them for blackouts. The realized depth ranged from 31 - 96m (102 - 315ft).
One more attempet to set a new world record
The most anticipated and intriguing announcement was made by Sanda Delija (HRV). For the third time in the last 30 days, Sanda attempted to reach a depth of 103m (338ft) and set a new absolute World Record in FIM. During her first attempt at the CMAS 7th Freediving Depth World Championship 2023, Sanda reached 90m (295ft). Then, during AIDA WCH 2023 PreCompetition, Sanda made the second attempt to dive at a depth of 103m (338ft) but turned back at 77m (253ft). This time, the athlete turned early at 94m (308ft), showed the surface protocol afterward, and received a yellow card. Sanda's realized performance was just 2m (7ft) less than the deepest dive of the day, but because of penalties for the early turn, she scored only 84 points, placing her third in the overall ranking per discipline. The bronze medal seems to be a consolation prize for an athlete who aimed for the world record, but you'll get there next time, Sanda!
For current FIM World Record Holder Fatima Korok (HUN), it took 6 attempts over a span of 2 years to set the record of 102m (335ft). Fatima finally reached the sacred depth 2 months ago at Vertical Blue 2023. Now, the athlete has a hip injury and cannot perform at her maximum capacity. Still, Fatima confidently reached a depth of 96m (315ft) and returned to the surface. There, she rushed to show the surface protocol, but forgot to take off her nose clip. According to AIDA rules, surface protocol starts at the moment an athlete starts removing all facial equipment. If an athlete doesn't remove the facial equipment and complete the rest of the surface protocol in time, then they are disqualified for failed surface protocol. Our hearts skipped a beat for a moment, but luckily, Fatima recognized her mistake very quickly and still had enough time to start over by removing her nose clip, showing the OK sign, and then saying, "I'm OK." Congratulations, World Champion - we couldn't be happier for you, you're a real warrior, Fatima!
According to the starting protocol for the fifth competition day, the plan was for Sanda to become the World Champion and for Fatima - Vice-Champion. As you already know, the plan had changed: Fatima became the World Champion and Sanda got the bronze. The intrigue was placed on who the Vice-Champion would be.
Maria Bobela (POL) and Enchante Gallardo (USA) announced 90m (295ft) and 92m (302ft), respectively. But both athletes turned early: Maria at 85m (279ft) and Enchante at 87m (285ft). With the penalties for early turns, Maria scored 84 and Enchante received 79 points, both of which weren’t enough to overtake Sanda.
The athlete who prevailed was Jung A Kim (KOR). Jung A announced an 86m (282ft) depth, which was 1m (3ft) deeper than her previous personal best and AIDA National Record for Korea. The athlete successfully performed her dive to the announced depth, received a white card, and eventually became the Vice-Champion in FIM! Congratulations, Jung A, on the silver and new AIDA National Record - well done!
On the fifth day, there were 5 red cards in total. Out of those red cards, 3 were for one surface and two underwater blackouts. But the other two were for unfortunate mistakes. Jennifer Wendland (DEU) announced an 82m (269ft) dive (it would have been 4th in the overall ranking by discipline if successful) and reached the target depth. But at the surface, Jennifer suffered a loss of motor control (LMC), dipped her airways, and didn't manage to complete the surface protocol in time.
Anne-Sophie Passalboni (FRA), on the contrary, was very fresh and relaxed after her 71m (233ft) dive. However, the athlete showed the OK sign several times. According to AIDA rules, this must result in disqualification since it can only be performed once.
Good luck next time, ladies!
New national records
On the fifth day, athletes also set 3 new national records for their countries as follows:
71m (233ft) - Shlomit Wallerstein (ISR) - new AIDA National Record for Israel
63m (207ft) - Nikita Fima Atriyu (INA) - new AIDA National Record for Indonesia
58m (190ft) Jiaoyi Li (HKG) - new AIDA National Record for Hong Kong
On the sixth competition day, the men will perform in FIM with a new world record attempt on the line - make sure you don't miss it!
NEW ABSOLUTE WORLD RECORD IN FIM
On September 27th, during the 31st AIDA Freediving World Championship in Limassol, Cyprus, Petar Klovar (HRV) set a new absolute World Record in FIM diving to 135m (443ft).
It took Petar 4 mins 16 sec to reach that depth and return to the surface.
To visualize it better, imagine a 45-story building, but instead of ascending towards the sky, it descends below sea level. At such depths, the human body experiences a pressure of approximately 14.5 atmospheres. To reach this depth and return back is an incredibly demanding task, not to mention undertaken in extreme conditions with an extensive breath-hold time. However, at the surface, Petar executed a clear surface protocol. After receiving his white card, oxygen was delivered to him directly on the dive line - an uncommon occurrence at competitions.
Make sure to witness the dive with your own eyes - watch the recorded broadcast on the AIDA International YouTube channel.
A bit of freediving history
The previous absolute World Record in this discipline was 133m (436ft), set by Alexey Molchanov (INT) 2 months ago at Vertical Blue 2023. Consequently, Petar has surpassed Alexey’s world record in this discipline by 2m (7ft) in a single dive.
This marks Petar's second absolute World Record. The first one was achieved in 2022 during the CMAS 6th Freediving Outdoor World Championship, where he reached a depth of 132m (433ft) in FIM and slightly adjusted the course of freediving history. That performance became the deepest competition dive of that time, as it exceeded Alexey's CWT World Record by 1m (3ft). That was the first time in 10 years that a FIM depth surpassed a CWT depth.
Congratulations on a new FIM World Record!
Competition Day 6: FIM Men (27 September)
September 27th, the sixth competition day of the 31st AIDA Freediving World Championship, was full of big events, achievements, and misfortunes. Let's talk about them.
On the sixth day, men competed in the Free Immersion (FIM) discipline. The Mediterranean Sea remembered that its unpredictable and changeable, providing athletes with noticeable current near the surface. Still, there were only 10 colored cards out of 47 performances. The realized depths ranged from 1 - 135m (3 - 443ft), with 5 dives to depths of 100m+ (328ft+).
Alexey Molchanov (INT), the former FIM World Record Holder with 133m (436ft), didn't compete in this discipline. Therefore, the deepest announcement of the day belonged to Petar Klovar (HRV) - 135m (443ft). Petar aimed to return to his status as the FIM World Record Holder, which he achieved for the first time in 2022. During the CMAS 6th Freediving Outdoor World Championship, Petar dived to a depth of 132m (433ft), but then during Vertical Blue 2023, Alexey dived to 133m (436ft) and surpassed Petar's result.
At this World Championship, Petar managed to win back the title - he completed his announced dive to a depth of 135m (443ft). At the surface. Petar performed a clear surface protocol but needed oxygen while he was still on the competition dive line - an uncommon occurrence after a white card dive. It should be noted that Petar and fellow Croatian athlete Vitomir Maričić are both currently under investigation by CMAS for doping allegations made against them at Vertical Blue 2023.
The second deepest dive of 124m (407ft) was announced by another Croatian athlete - Vitomir Maričić. For Vitomir, however, it wasn't an easy performance. He reached the announced depth and, in his usually manner, didn't grab the tag. This time, it saved him several seconds at the bottom plate and some precious energy the athlete seemed to need at the surface. Once Vitomir emerged, he was conscious and successfully performed the surface protocol. But the athlete was too tired and affected by narcosis, so after receiving a yellow card, oxygen was brought for him directly to the line. According to the official diving computer, the reached depth was 123m (404ft); this resulted in Vitomir receiving a 3-point penalty for failing to reach the announced depth and for no tag. It resulted in a total of 121 points, which equaled to the announced depth of the next freediver, Andrey Matveenko (INT).
Potentially, it could’ve created an interesting case. If there are two athletes with the same number of points, but one received a yellow card and the other a white card, then who would win the medal? Well, perhaps we’ll never know - not this time, anyway. Andrey performed the shallowest dive of this Championship - unintentionally. The athlete blacked out at the surface right after packing and starting his dive. Later, Andrey commented that, while he was packing, his nose clip opened. He lost count and packed extra, which leaded to the blackout. And so, the silver medal went to Vitomir. Congratulations, Vice-Champion!
Abdelatif Alouach (FRA) dived next. He performed a very relaxed and clean dive with a confident surface protocol. Congratulations on the bronze, Abdelatif!
New national records
Special congratulations to Gary McGrath (GRB) on a new AIDA National Record for the UK in FIM. Gary dived to a depth of 103m (338ft), performed the surface protocol successfully, and received a white card. Earlier at the Championship, Gary tried to set a new CWTB National Record and successfully dived to a depth of 100m (328ft). But at the surface, he interrupted his protocol with irrelevant gestures and received a red card. We are happy to see that the second dive went smoother.
The following athletes have also set new National Records for their countries:
61m (200ft) - Anas Chair (MAR) - new National Record for Morocco
106m (348ft) - Omar Al Ghailani (OMA) - new National Record for Oman
92m (302ft) - Vootipong Limpanitivat (THA) - new National Record for Thailand
90m (295ft) - Amin Jadidi Fighan (IRA) - new National Record for Iran
87m (285ft) - Tom Peled (ISR) - new National Record for Israel
70m (230ft) - Alexandros Polemitis (CYP) - new National Record for Cyprus
70m - Marcell Bagó (HUN) - new National Record for Hungary
65m (213ft) - Nemanja Randjic (SRB) - new National Record for Serbia
62m (203ft) - Deniss Lindovers (LAT) - new National Record for Latvia
Meanwhile, the World Championship is moving forward toward its end. On the 7th day, the women will compete in Constant Weight with Fins. Stay tuned and root for the athletes!
Competition Day 7: CWT Women (28 September)
On September 28th, at the 31st AIDA Freediving World Championship, the women competed in Constant Weight (CWT). Keep reading for the results of this competition day.
On the eighth competition day, weather conditions got significantly worse. Strong surface current and waves appeared, and 11 out of 38 performances ended with colored cards. The realized depths ranged from 5 - 98m (16 - 322ft). Sadly, no one managed to reach a depth of 100m+ (328ft+) that day.
Yellow and red
Marianna Gillespie (FRA) was the first and only one who announced a dive of 103m (338ft). During her warm-up dive, Marianna noticed the current below and asked judges to postpone the competition to another day. However, the judges said that the competition could not be postponed. This can be considered quite controversial for some as AIDA rules don't favor blackouts and actually sanctions them with a disqualification for different periods of time depending on blackout duration and depth.
Before Marianna's dive, all 6 dives were to depths of 40 - 49m (131 - 161ft), yet two athletes had to turn early before reaching their target depths. Marianna had nothing else to do but start her dive on time. Predictably, the athlete turned early at 97m (318ft) to avoid a blackout at the end of her dive. Even with her early turn, this was the second-deepest dive of the day, just 1m (3ft) shallower than the deepest. Yet, because of the penalty for no tag and an early turn, Marianna scored only 90 points, which put her 5th in the overall ranking by discipline. The athlete even tried to protest this decision to the judges, but unfortunately failed. It's difficult to imagine how disappointing this must be for the athlete. We feel for you, Marianna, and wish you better luck in the next season!
Enchante Gallardo (USA) made the second-deepest announcement of the day - 98m (322f). The athlete was well on her way to the end of the line but decided to turn early. However, on the turn, Enchante noticed that she was close to the bottom plate, so she decided to continue her dive and grabbed the tag. At the surface, Enchante even managed to show the surface protocol, and receive a white card. But after the judges reviewed the video of Enchante's dive, they changed their decision and disqualified her performance. Good luck with the next season, Enchante!
Jung A Kim (KOR) was diving next. Jung A has national records in all depth disciplines except CNF. In CWT, her national record and personal best (PB) is 103m (338ft). Jung A reached that depth just 3 months ago at AIDA Panglao Depth Championship. Several days before the World Championship, at the AIDA WCH 2023 PreCompetition, the athlete successfully dived to 100m (328ft). However, during the World Championship, Jung A decided to play it safe and made a very conservative announcement of 6m (20ft) shallower than her PB. And it paid off - despite complicated conditions, Jung A reached her target depth of 96m (315ft), made it to the surface to complete the surface protocol, and received a white card, earning herself the gold medal. Congratulations, Champion!
Second place was shared between Jennifer Wendland (DEU) and Qihong Han (CHN). Both athletes dived to 92m (302ft). For Jennifer, it was supposed to be an easy dive - one that’s 10m (32ft) shallower than her PB. However, at the surface, the athlete seemed to come close to experiencing a loss of motor control and began performing the surface protocol in the wrong direction of the judges. But she eventually focused and showed the sign to directly to the judges, resulting in a white card! Congratulations, Jennifer!
Qihong, on the other hand, announced a depth 7m (23ft) deeper than her official PB of 85m (279ft) and reached it successfully by diving with bifins. On the surface, the athlete was fresh and focused and showed a clean surface protocol. Congratulations, Qihong, on your new PB and silver medal!
New national records
The second half of the day was less intense. Five athletes successfully set new national records for their countries, and 3 of them dived to the same depth of 77m (253ft).
So, with new national records, we congratulate the following athletes:
77m (253ft) - Yulia Marievich (LAT) - new AIDA National Record for Latvia
77m - Marta Gil (ESP) - new AIDA National Record for Spain
77m - Camila Jaber (MEX) - new AIDA National Record for Mexico
71m (233ft) - Nikita Fima Atriyu (IDN) - new AIDA National Record for Indonesia
70m (230ft) - Jiaoyi Li (HKG) - new AIDA National Record for Hong Kong
Competition Day 8: CWT Men (29 September)
On September 29th - the final competition day of the 31st AIDA Freediving World Championship - the men performed their CWT dives in the unpredictable waters of the Mediterranean Sea near Limassol, Cyprus. We’re ready to report to you the conclusions of that day and the entire Championship.
As on the previous day, the sea was wavy with noticeable surface current. Therefore, 18 out of 43 performances ended with colored cards, including 5 red cards for blackouts. The realized depths ranged from 35 - 136m (115 - 446ft).
The new AIDA World Record
The most anticipated performance of the day belonged to the CWT master of all time - Alexey Molchanov (INT). CWT is Alexey's favorite discipline; he has been the constant world record holder in it since 2012. For a long time, Alexey competed with himself in CWT with no close rivals. This year, however, close competitors emerged at last - two athletes have managed to dive to 130m+ (427ft+). The first was Davide Carerra (ITA), who reached a depth of 130m at Vertical Blue 2023. Then Andrey Matveenko (INT) became the second and most dangerous rival by far. During the CMAS 7th Freediving Depth World Championship 2023, Andrey managed to dive to 134m (440ft) and, for 5 minutes, became the CWT World Record Holder. Alexey quickly took the title back.
Thanks to this motivation and competition, Alexey improved his results in CWT by 6m (20ft) in a single year within 4 competition dives. Each of these dives became a world record:
- June 2023 - 133m (436ft) - absolute World Record in CWT set according to CMAS rules during the CMAS 10th Outdoor Freediving French Championship
- July 2023 - 133m - absolute World Record in CWT set according to AIDA rules during Vertical Blue 2023
- August 2023 - 136m (446ft) - absolute World Record in CWT set according to CMAS rules during the CMAS 7th Freediving Depth World Championship 2023
- September 2023 - 136m - AIDA World Record in CWT set during the 31st AIDA Freediving World Championship
The last dive to 136m (446ft) was performed at the end of the competition season in the cool and dark Mediterranean Sea. Nonetheless, Alexey managed it successfully, receiving a white card, a gold medal, and made his AIDA World Record even with his CMAS record. To sum it all up, Alexey has mastered the depth of 136m and can reach it in almost any condition. Perhaps it means that we can hope for more intriguing episodes and breathtaking dives by Alexey next season. Stay tuned!
We eagerly congratulate Alexey on the completion of an extremely successful competition season and 10 (!) new AIDA and CMAS World Records. Cheers and have a good rest, Alexey!
The last day of the World Championship wasn’t as joyful for everyone, however. Andrey Matveenko (INT) announced a 126m (413ft) dive, 6m (20ft) less than his official personal best (PB) and former CWT World Record of 134m (440ft), aiming for a silver medal. However, at the surface, Andrey looked quite tired and confused the sequence of the surface protocol: first, he said, "I'm OK," and then showed the OK sign. But according to the rules, the OK sign should come first. So he received an unfortunate red card. At this World Championship, Andrey participated in 3 disciplines and earned 2 red cards and 1 bronze medal.
Once Andrey withdrew his claim for the silver, Omar Al Ghailani (OMA) could have gotten on the podium for the bronze. He announced a 110m (361ft) dive, which would have also become a new AIDA National Record for Oman, but at the surface, Omar didn't manage to hold himself straight on the line and dipped his airways. Another unfortunate red card. Omar participated in all 4 disciplines and received 2 red and 2 white cards. Each time, he came very close to the podium but still didn't quite make his way onto it.
We look forward to seeing you all on the podium next season. Rest and return stronger than ever, and good luck!
Abdelatif Alouach (FRA) performed a relaxed dive to 116m (381ft) and received a white card. According to the start list, Abdelatif was a contender for the bronze. But once Andrey received a red card, Abdelatif easily made it to second place. Congratulations, Vice-Champion!
Interesting fact: Abdelatif completed 3 dives at this World Championship and all of them were to a depth of 116m (381ft).
The bronze eventually landed in the hands of Fabio Tunno (DEU), who dived to 109m (358ft), improved his PB in CWT, and set a new AIDA National Record in the discipline for Germany. Congratulations, Fabio! It's an excellent result for your first AIDA World Championship and incredible progress for just two years of participation in freediving competitions. Well done, and we hope to see you in the next season!
The overall winners
The overall winner and the winner of the Natalia Molchanova award among the women was Jung A Kim (KOR). Jung A successfully performed in all four disciplines, won 1 gold and 2 silver medals, and had a total score of 327 points.
The overall winner and the winner of the Natalia Molchanova award among the men was Vitomir Maričić (HRV). Vitomir performed in all 4 disciplines and won 2 silver medals in CNF and FIM. But the most interesting dive was his last in CWT. Vitomir performed this dive with bifins instead of a monofin, reached a depth of 75m (246ft), and even grabbed a tag for a change (Vitomir's other 3 dives were yellow-card dives because he didn't bring back a bottom tag). It should be noted that Vitomir and fellow Croatian athlete Petar Klovar are both currently under investigation by CMAS for doping allegations made against them at Vertical Blue 2023. He ended the competition with a total of 381 points.
This is the final freediving competition report for 2023 - the season is now over. Congratulations to all who survived, stay tuned for 2024!