Big congratulations for your outstanding performance on VB-2107! Thank you for finding some time to answer our questions!
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself
Thank you Sergey, I am originally from Cornwall in the UK and moved to Barbados in 2011 with my wife. Growing up in a seaside town (Perranporth) I was always in the sea surfing, swimming, Jr life-saving club or fishing but the water is very cold and murky so I never really got into diving. When I moved to Barbados I found warm (28C) seas with visibility exceeding 30m on some days! I instantly got into spearfishing and the deep started calling me. I wanted to freedive deeper, stay longer, hunt better fish and it just went from there. In 2013 I set up ‘Spearfishing Barbados’ offering guided spearfishing tours around Barbados which have been growing every year. In 2015 I went to train with Vertical Blue (Jonathan Sunnex & Will Trubridge) where I completed my AIDA Instructor course and at the same time setting a PB of 62m with bi-fins. I opened Barbados’ first freediving school at the beginning of 2016 and run AIDA courses weekday and weekend all year round.
2. What about freediving? When and how you try it for the first time? And why did you like it?
I got into spearfishing through a mutual friend who took me out and let me follow and watch. I remember diving down to 30ft and instantly turning and heading back for the surface! However, it was at this time I discovered I could equalize handsfree and spent as much time as possible freediving whenever I could. I really enjoy the peace and quiet you find when freediving and much prefer it to scuba. Being able to just walk down to the end of the road with fins and a mask and go diving for hours was an amazing experience each and every time.
3. How often do you train? What is your normal training routine?
Because of the spearfishing tours and freediving courses, I dive quite a bit already, anywhere from 3-7 days a week I am in the water freediving. In the lead up to VB, I supplemented my work schedule with pool training working on my monofin and no-fins technique as well as CO2 tolerance. Some days I would spearfish for 3 hours then go and do an hour or two at the pool in the evening working on just technique.
Two great sessions I do in the pool are over/under – you swim 25m on the surface, touch the wall and then start 25m DYN, reach the other side and immediately go back to 25m on the surface. Another training session which helped was to perform a STA followed by DYN – 1-minute static then 50m DYN with short rests.
ALWAYS TRAIN WITH A BUDDY!
4. You showed very impressive results on all three depth disciplines! Do you split training time equally between them?
Thank you! In the lead up to VB I had 3 weeks at Deans Blue Hole and would dive FIM, CWT then CNF followed by a day of rest. I had spent a lot of time in the pool training for CWT and CNF so felt very strong diving to depth in those disciplines. 50m CNF was actually a PB for me, I had done 48m in training, about a week before which felt great so decided to round it off to 50m and I surfaced strong with lots of energy left for more. During training, I had progressed very well in CWT and FIM making small improvements every day. After each training session, I would go home, export the dive data from my watch and analyze my profile making sure my descent speed was correct and making notes on what felt good and what could be improved to take into the next session.
5. Why decide to compete in the first place? Are you going to do it again?
After opening my freediving school I wanted to try my hand at a competition and also represent the country which I had made home for the last 6+yrs. There were no National Records for Barbados for men at this point so any white card performance would claim an NR, however I wanted to really give it my best shot and get white cards I would be proud of. Yes, I am scheduled to compete later this year at Blue Element 2017 in Dominica (October 13th – 21st) with my old Instructor Trainer Jonny Sunnex! My goals for this comp are to extend my CNF record and hopefully add a few more meters on to my CWT and FIM records.
6. It was your first competition, how you manage the stress? Or it was not stressful at all?
Yes, this was my first ever competition and I would say I was more stressed during training than I was during my official dives. During training you have to co-ordinate with other persons schedule so you will always have to compromise. When training you want to be respectful of everyone’s time so often take it in turns which means your warm ups usually take longer and by the time you do your target dive you may even be too cold.
On competition days I would arrive at the Blue Hole at least 1hr before OT to check in and almost every day my resting heart rate was 100BPM! Haha! Once I got my suit on and clipped my lanyard to the warm up line however I was totally relaxed and actually my warm up dives where better/more relaxed than the ones during training. On the comp line during my countdown I breathed with my snorkel until 1min before OT which helped to tune out noises and other distractions with my eyes closed. I would then finish my breathe up vertically on the line, keeping my eyes closed and just listening to the announcer. On my very first dive of the comp (76m FIM) I was completely relaxed all the way to the bottom plate but once I had that tag in my hand all of the nerves finally caught up with me and my contractions started the moment I turned. The first dive was always going to be my hardest and after this one things got easier and more relaxed with each dive.
7. What do you think about VB? Anything what you think can be improved?
VB, as we all know, is one of [if not THE] top competition each year and the organization is absolutely spot on as well as the safety team being very professional and courteous. During the closing ceremony, Will even mentioned that throughout the entire competition there was not a single delay in the schedule which is a testament to the professionalism and organization of this event. Having not yet experienced any other competition I cannot really say if I think there is anything that can be improved but I think everyone at VB is on point.
8. Tell us about your future plans and how do you see freediving in the future?
My plans moving forward are to continue growing my freediving school here in Barbados and attract more people to the island wanting to learn, both from around the Caribbean and all over the globe. I have already had students come over from nearby islands to train as well as going myself to Grenada earlier this year to teach a group of avid divers and spearos so the sport of Freediving is definitely on the up! I think more people are going to move from scuba to freediving as time goes on as well as people who just really enjoy snorkeling wanting to learn more about freediving and improve their ability and enjoyment underwater. We also actively promote the hunting of Lion fish and regularly give talks in Barbados informing people about this invasive species and why we need more freedivers out there removing them – and eating them!