No fewer than 12 world freediving records have been broken during the nine-day Vertical Blue international competition at Deans Blue Hole in the Bahamas, with some marks switching back and forth between competitors during the event.
Among the women, Alessia Zecchini (Italy) and Alenka Artnik (Slovenia) set three records each and Alice Modolo (France) one.
For the men, Alexey Molchanov (Russia) made three world record dives in different disciplines while Arnauld Jerald (France) set two on his first appearance.
Four of the records were broken on the first day of competition, 13 July, which was when Molchanov dived to 126m in the Free Immersion (FIM) discipline in a time of 4min 45sec. In FIM the diver uses a line but weight must stay constant and no fins are used.
Back-to-back women’s records followed from Zecchini and Artnik in Constant Weight (CWT), with Zecchini’s 115m (3min 22sec) being outdone minutes later by Artnik’s 118m dive, carried out in 3min 26sec.
But Zecchini would roar back on day 3 with a new world record in Constant Weight No Fins (CNF) to a 74m depth in 3min 2sec, in a dive dedicated to her friend and previous holder the late Sayuri Kinoshita of Japan. The CNF discipline is described as the purest in freediving, with the competitor touching the line only at the turning point.
The final world record of the first day came from 25-year-old Jerald, who gained the Constant Weight Bi-fins (CWTB) record in his first appearance at the event. His 116m dive took 3min 30sec, but he was to do even better on day 4, when he reached a depth of 117m in 3min 35sec.
This was one of another four world records set on 17 July. Artnik outdid her 118m CWT record of day one by diving to 120m in 3min 33sec, making her one of the top five deepest humans in the discipline.
“Not many men can dive that deep and the number is really crazy!” she said. “It’s hardcore but I was just following my progress and I knew exactly what to do and it makes me really happy.” On Day 7 she would be even happier, after achieving a depth of 122m in 3min 34sec.
Another of that five-human elite, Molchanov, reached 131m in CWT in 4min 33sec, also on day 4, to beat his own record.
The final day 4 world record went to Zecchini, who managed 101m in FIM in 3min 40sec.