The 2004 AIDA world team championship was held in Vancouver, Canada on 4-11 August. The UK team was selected at the saltFree UK championship in May. The men came 2nd out of 9 teams (33 competitors); The women, 4th out of 8 teams (24 competitors). Sam Still set new records in Men's Constant Weight and Static Apnea. For more information, please visit http://www.aidaworlds2004.com
* David Harries, as the standby member of the men's team, entered as an individual competitor.
It started like most, after watching the mesmerizing film 'The Big Blue'. Since then I have been studying in Manchester, where I found a great group of divers. They ranged from British champions, to 'unsung heroes', finally to me - starting at the shallow end! Even though, given the support, experience, grounding and most importantly friendship of the others I started to improve.
I dive mostly in the North Wales area, with the group which has grown in numbers (Like team member Dave Harries), along with depth. I am based in Bangor, now that my degree course has ended, which cuts out 4 hours on the train, and ridiculously early starts, just to be able to go and dive with mates. Which was something I did practically every weekend for two years!!!
I have dived in the Australia, the Red Sea and France with CIPA. Also with Aharon and MT Solomons out in Baja, Mexico. Though, I feel more at ease in what I consider my 'home territory' of the Welsh waters with my close friends, without whom I wouldn't be in the position to represent the UK.
I got into freediving after working as a divemaster in Exmouth WA and meeting a guy that used to dive down and meet the SCUBA divers. I thought this was pretty cool and gave it a go. Found out about a club in Richmond and went a long to hold my breath. I train at the NDAC with the Saltfree crew and once a week at Crystal Clear freedivers in Crystal Palace, South London. Soon to move to Plymouth to be nearer the sea. I have held the UK Static record and currently hold the Dynamic record. Really up for Vancouver, we WILL do well!!
|Mark Harris |
Born in South West London, Mark grew up in the Bahamas where he learned to spearfish and scuba dive as a youngster. He returned with his family to the UK in his late teens to focus on his education and career.
After a short stint in the Royal Navy (where he was initiated into UK diving), he embarked on a career in IT and has worked as a consultant in the UK and Middle East. He now works for the John Lewis Partnership. Their supermarket division, Waitrose, have kindly sponsored Mark to attend the World Championship. Visit the Waitrose website
Returning to his aquatic roots in the mid-90ís, after a few years out of the water, he developed interests in underwater photography and freediving. He is a member of the British Freediving Association and has placed 3rd in the UK Freediving Championships for the past 2 years.
|David Harries (Reserve) |
I first started freediving while in Australia and NewZealand through my love of spearfishing. I continued freediving during my travels, which included places like, Fiji, Cook Islands, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia. When I returned to the UK I got in contact with a group of divers (inc. Sam Still) in the NorthWest who train throughout the year in North Wales. I am a PADI OWSI and was a keen Technical diver before I found the joys of wearing only a suit, fins and a mask (much less kitting up)! I am currently working towards my Masters degree after graduating from Marine Biology in 2001.
The UK championships 2004 was my first Comp and I placed 4th; a position I was able to better in Cyprus this year, when I came 1st out of the UK men competing. I honestly believe that without the support I have received from my buddies since I started seriously training just over a year ago, I would not have been in any position to even contemplate trying out for the team. I must also thank my local the "Skerries Inn" for sponsoring me a percentage of the money that I put behind the bar during my three years as a student in Bangor!!!!!
|Hannah Stacey |
Hannah was born near the sea in West Cornwall where she learnt to swim in the ocean, spending much of her childhood at the beach bodysurfing. It is this lifestyle that first inspired Hannah's interest in freediving in 2000. Since then, Hannah has won several UK records, the UK Championship in 2002 and competed in Nice, Ibiza, The Red Sea and Hawaii as a member of the UK team.
|Anne-Marie Kitchen Wheeler|
Originally a qualified Pharmacist, my love of the sea made me change professions and I now work as a Cruise Director on a scuba diving safari boat: the MV Sea Queen, in the Maldives. This gives me the wonderful opportunity to spend 3-4 hours a day in the sea, escorting my guests to experience some of the best dives in the world. (Visit our website www.scubascuba.com)
I have been freediving for 5 years. I have won the UK Championship 4 times ('99,'00,'01 and 03) and have represented the UK in Freediving World Cup and World Championships on three occasions. I have held various British Constant Weight and Free Immersion Records over the past 4 years and currently hold the UK Women's Free Immersion Record of 48m.
I really want to see the UK women's team on the podium in Vancouver!
|Suzanne Pugh |
I started freediving over three years ago whilst working as a holiday representative for RegalDive in Hurghada, Egypt, the home of the Red Sea. I am still in Hurghada working for RegalDive who have agreed to some sponsorship for Vancouver together with Emperor Divers our main diving partner in the Red Sea.
RegalDive can be found at www.regaldive.co.uk and can provide all your holiday needs to the Red Sea and more.
Emperor Divers are at www.emperordivers.com and have their own freediving centre at their Soma Bay location south of Hurghada. So if you want to come over and do some training for the next competition, learn how to freedive or just have some fun, get in touch Sue@NoTanx.com and Iíll see you in the sun.
Sue is a PADI OWSI Instructor and an AIDA * Freedive Trainer.
|Zoe Hall (reserve)|
This was Zoe's first UK competition. However, Zoe is not a newcomer to freediving. She has trained at HMS Dolphin and Chepstow and also appeared as a stunt freediver in the movie THE FREEDIVER filmed in June 2004.
|Sam Kirby |
Sam Kirby, 31, started freediving whilst working as a scuba instructor in the Red Sea. She is now based in Bristol, UK and can be found most weekends at the National Diving and Activity Centre in Chepstow with her freedive club saltFree.
Sam is a PADI IDC Staff Instructor and an AIDA ** Freedive Trainer. She works full time as a Training and Quality Management Consultant for PADI. PADI have generously sponsored Sam's trip to Vancouver, for which she is eternally grateful! Visit the PADI website