2015 was a GREAT year for Maui Spearfishing Academy! There were more than a few special moments that are very much worth writing about, but more than anything I would have to say the “Freedive Paradise” competition headed up by Kurt Chambers and Mandy Sumner had to top the cake. I was fortunate enough to get away for a whole week to prepare for and join the 3 days of competition. The competition itself is recognized by AIDA, the worlds most recognized organization in Free-diving. In the competition there are 3 disciplines: Free-immersion (pulling down a line), Constant weight (Swimming down with fins), and Constant No-Fins (Swimming down without fins). You have to choose a different discipline for each of the three days. Obviously the deeper you go the more points you get!
Without a doubt the most interesting part of the tournament to me was the CNF (No-Fins) discipline. Honestly I’m more of a spearfisherman than a freediver… and swimming down without fins is pretty foreign to me (not exactly the most practical way to spearfish). So I learned the proper form and tried it out for the first time in those 3 days before the tournament!
I figured for my first attempt at CNF I would go down to a depth I feel very comfortable at, then work my way from there. I chose 85 feet. At about 55 feet down I stop swimming and my negative buoyancy allowed me to glide deeper. I felt pretty good going down, despite my terrible form. I’ll never forget what I felt as I turned around. Typically when I turn around to head back up, I kick one time and I start to glide back toward the surface. So naturally I expected that when I did a big stroke of my arms to swim back up I would begin to glide in the upward direction. I did one big stroke looking for that gliding feeling, and noticed the moment I stopped pulling myself upward through the water that my negative buoyancy pulled me back down nearly a foot! At that point I realized I was going to have a very long swim up….
I completed that dive but was very happy to reach the surface and noticed my arms burning pretty noticeably from all the effort, and man was I out of breath! I slowly improved my technique of the next days and decided to do a very conservative 115′ CNF dive for the tournament. In fact I was conservative with all my dives in the tournament and was glad I decided to go that route. My 115′ CNF, 165′ CWT, and 175′ FIM dives put me tied with Kurt Chambers for first place! It took a lot of luck and a little skill to land that first place spot but I did manage to scoop up some nice prizes from Florida Freedivers and Aqualung 😀