British freediver breaks 15-year national record

Ruth Osborn surfaces from her British record dive
Ruth Osborn surfaces from her British record dive

Freediver Ruth Osborn has set a British depth record that had stood unchallenged for nearly 16 years. Her 82m Free Immersion (FIM) dive broke by 1m that set in 2007 by Sara Campbell.

Also read: No fins, 1 breath, 4+ lengths, 7th world record

Osborn’s record-breaking dive took place at Freediving World in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el Sheikh on 18 May and her dive-time was 2min 53sec. Her dive, the second-deepest ever carried out in competition by a British woman, had taken place in a lot of swell and a little current, making it more challenging, she told Divernet

Previously a surfer, Osborn took up freediving in 2015 and became an instructor in 2018 but started competing only in late 2020. A year later she was representing the UK at the AIDA World Championships. “I’ve been in serious training for the CNF [Constant Weight Without Fins] and FIM national records since November 2021,” she said. 

Ruth Osborn descend the line
Ruth Osborn descends the line

“My preferred discipline is actually No Fins, although I now love Free Immersion equally – sometimes more, when No Fins isn’t going well!”

Leeds is her home base in winter but “in the summer I’m in Ibiza, where I fit training in around work, and the rest of the winter my depth training has all been done in Egypt”.  

Asked if she could go deeper in FIM, Osborn replied: “Absolutely! My aim is to be the first British woman to do 100m in competition – this I will do in FIM.” She is now focusing on the AIDA World Championships in September: “I hope to break the CNF record and take the FIM record deeper in Cyprus.”

Osborn surfaces

Ruth Osborn has been coached since 2021 by Croatian ace Petar Klovar – who has just broken the men's FIM world record (see below). Her own FIM personal best had been 57m when he took over.

In the FIM discipline the diver descends without fins, using the rope to pull down and then ascend. It is described as the most relaxing discipline by world governing body AIDA. The women’s world FIM record under AIDA rules is 98m, set in 2019 by Italy’s Alessia Zecchini – though her feat was equalled at Freediving World by Sanda Delija of Croatia.

World records tumble

Also on the world stage, Zecchini has just succeeded in smashing the women’s Constant Weight with Monofin (CWT) record by 9m. Her 123m dive was carried out at the AIDA Oceanquest Philippines 2023 competition, held from 24-30 May in San Francisco, Cebu.

Zecchini failed to improve even further on that record a few days later but described her achievement as “a dream dive”. A previous holder of the record from 2018, she had conceded it to Alenka Artnik in 2020 with the Slovenian's dive to 114m.

Alessia Zecchini after her world-record CWT dive
Alessia Zecchini after her world-record CWT dive

Other world records were broken in the Philippines in May by freediving’s male stars. Also at the Oceanquest event, Alexey Molchanov reached a depth of 121m in Constant Weight with Bifins (CWTB). Like Zecchini he was wresting back a previous world record – Arnaud Jerald of France had reached 120m at Vertical Blue last year. 

Molchanov is Russian but dived independently, because the country has been banned from international competition by AIDA since its invasion of Ukraine.

In another AIDA event, the IDA Asia Depth Challenge in Cebu Lapulapu City from 13-19 May, Osborn's coach Petar Klovar broke the Free Immersion record by reaching 128m despite having to contend with strong currents. The dive bettered by 1m that of Poland’s Mateusz Malina at Vertical Blue 2022.

All records have to be officially ratified by AIDA.

Also on Divernet: World & GB freedive records set in Bahamas, Hickson breaks freediving record, British freedive champs named, Freediver breaks British No Limits record, Record potential among UK’s deep freedivers, Learn to freedive with Emma Farrell


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