The UK’s only annual freediving depth competition, the NoTanx Dive-Off, has taken place at the Vobster Quay inland diving centre in Somerset.
In what is essentially a club event, 24 NoTanx freedivers took part in water reported to be “surprisingly warm”, and with good visibility.
Dive-Off competitors can choose between four disciplinary options. Constant Weight and Free Immersion are standard disciplines under sport governing body AIDA rules, involving either swimming down or pulling on the guide-rope to a target depth.
Freestyle allows competitors to pull or swim as much as they need, while the challenging Double Dip requires two dives to be completed on a single breath.
16 September 2018
Fourteen of the 17 dives resulted in white cards, indicating clean, full-mark dives, with the others suffering from technical issues such as missed tags.
Winners of the Dive-Off, now in its 15th year, were judged by the competitors themselves on the basis of “who had the best dive?” Overall winner Alexa Clarke-Kent was awarded a TiTAN tungsten neckweight.
“It takes about an hour to prepare for a competition freedive, each step being planned and executed in the most efficient way possible to allow ultimate focus at the exact moment the judge calls ‘Official Top’,” said NoTanx founder and senior instructor Marcus Greatwood.
“In a NoTanx competition, novice-divers get the benefit of a senior’s experience and repay in kind during their dive.
“At first it is required to help plan the preparation, then assist in warming up for their dive. In the competition zone, on the rope, the designated adjutant’s role is to ‘coach’ the divers through the specific protocols required, all overseen by the judges.
“Each diver has to start their dive within 20 seconds of their ‘Official Top Time’ and finish with a very specific set of actions that show they are in total control.”
Other events following the Dive-Off included the Hour Challenge, to determine how long participants could hold their breath over 60 minutes. Jack Rawles won after spending a surprising 59min 2sec of the hour under water.
Rawles also won the Guess Your depth competition, in which each participant is allotted a random depth, for which they must aim with a dive-computer strapped to their back. He came within 30cm of his target depth of 14.4m.