Saturday 11th May was the Madchester Challenge Competition, hosted by Apneists UK. Compared to the annual Great Northern International Pool Championship, also run by Steve Millard of Apneists UK, it was a small competition, but what it lacked in size it made up for in atmosphere and personality and attracted athletes from all over the UK. The whole day had a very relaxed and almost informal feel to it.
The idea of the competition was that the athlete choose one discipline to compete in and the highest point score won, simple (there was an opportunity for people to choose a second discipline if they wished to do so as well). No prizes were up for grabs just Northern love – this was a competition done for the chance to compete and for the sheer fun of it.
The winner of the day was John Moorcroft, an Instructor for Apneists UK ( www.freedivers.co.uk ) and UK Team member, who did a very comfortable and impressive 154 meter DNF swim. John used to hold the DNF record and by his own admission had not done a huge amount of training, making the swim that much more impressive! Coming first out of the Women was Georgina Miller of London Freediving, another UK Team member and National Record Holder who completed a huge static of 6 minutes 15 seconds. George then went on to do a big 104 meter DNF swim, finishing off her day in style. It was great to see George do so well, especially after a freak accident with her toe, which prevented her from competing just moments before her starting time at the Great Northern International earlier in the year.
There were many other notable performances, some from seasoned athletes and some from brand new divers. Please see here for details of performances: Madchester Challenge (the link is here )
The pool was provided by Wright Robinson College and as you would expect with Apneists UK, there was a strong team on hand ensuring the smooth running of the day. We had a fantastic crew of safety divers swimming around looking after the athletes, wonderful judges Mandy Buckley and Gary Lowe watching the Official Tops, as well as photographers and other volunteers. Well done to Steve Millard and Apneists UK for pulling another competition out of the bag and providing athletes across the country to gather, compete, and generally have a lot of fun!
On the weekend of the 9th and 10th March, freedivers from clubs across the country and indeed across the waters flocked to the beautiful Liverpool Aquatic Centre for the Great Northern International Pool Championships. www.freedivingcompetition.com It was like a gathering of the freediving clans and a great opportunity for both new and old faces to meet. Eleven countries in total were represented which was absolutely fantastic: Great Britain, Ireland, France, Denmark, Poland, Canada, Hungary, Holland, Germany, Greece and Latvia.
The Great Northern, now in it’s fourth year, was superbly organised by Steve Millard of Apneists UK (www.freedivers.co.uk). Each year ‘the event’ (as it is also known), has gone from strength to strength, growing year on year. This was my first time competing ‘up north’ and having heard so many good things, I was not left disappointed. The atmosphere created by Steve, the judges David Tranfield and Pim Vermeulen, Mandy and Kate, the safety team, volunteers and all the staff at the Aquatic Centre was phenomenal and ensured that the athletes were instantly put at ease and free to concentrate on what they needed to do.
The weekend was split into two separate competitions. Day one, Saturday, was kick started by the Dynamic No Fin (DNF) competitors. DNF is becoming more and more popular with athletes and this was reflected in the numbers taking part, totalling 35 (25 men and 10 women). And what an exciting day it was! The 50 meter pool was reduced in size to 25 meters to accommodate the no fins divers and with its glass ceiling, looked very blue and inviting indeed. There were some big dives as you would expect from some of the more experienced athletes and some equally big personal achievements from some of the newer initiates into the sport – all were acknowledged which was both generous and brilliant to see. Mateusz Malina from Poland completed an incredible 180 meter dive, making it look blissfully easy and securing first place for the men and Yulia Maryevich from Latvia, did a very elegant and solid 100 meters coming first out of the women and a new national record, one of three National records managed by the wonderful Latvian team.
Day two, Sunday, saw the number of athletes swell to 47 and the buzz around the centre increased too. The first part of the day was dedicated to Static (STA) and we all moved over to the 20 meter pool to register, warm-up and generally prepare for our Official Top start time. Athletes and their coaches congregated around the pool in preparation towels and yoga mats dotted the periphery of the pool for people to stretch, do yoga, lie or sit down, meditate, concentrate on breathing, or listen to music to get into their own competitive zone. There were some big breath holds by some of the men: Mateusz Malina (6:47), Erdhart Torsten (6:19) and British Adam Drzazga (5:58). There were also some strong statics performed by the women, notably the UK’s Liv Philip and Yulia Maryevich.
The second part of day two was finished off with the Dynamic (DYN) with fins element of the competition. As you would expect there were some great performances by Malina and Maryevich who swam a brilliant 201 and 151 meters respectively, gaining the top spot out of the men and women and for Yulia a National Record for her country. We were also very proud to see some great and strong performances by our very own home-grown British talent Liv Philip and Tim Money. Liv took 2nd Place on the podium and Tim Money ranked 1st out of the British Men overall. Liv and Tim regularly represent the UK on the British Freediving Team and are well known and admired athletes. Also it was great to meet some of the Dutch divers, a great video here of Eric by Daan Verhoeven
A lot of work goes into making a competition successful and the sponsors of the Great Northern are deserving of a massive thank you for their generosity: Without a pool we would not have been able to compete: Lifestyle Fitness centres provided a wonderful pool and facilities for us all to enjoy. Sensational prizes were provided by Orca and Fins4U for the winners of the competition. And official Sponsors of the competition were Saka, Blue Orb, Freediving yoga lessons from OM diver and TriBeCa who hosted us in their trendy bar and fed us delicious pizza and safety from Gone swimming. The British Freediving Association has supported and promoted the Great Northern and is well deserving of a mention as are Lifestyles leisure for their excellently run leisure centre. And on a personal note and on behalf of the athletes, I’d like to say huge thank you to Steve Millard and his fantastic team for a truly sensational weekend – well done!
The UK National Pool Freediving Championships has been announced by Apneists UK and the British Freediving Association for next year on the 9th and 10th of March 2013. It follows the successful format of the previous three years, which is day one; a dynamic no fins competition (DNF), and day two; the UK National pool competition which is a combination of an early afternoon Static (STA) competition and an early evening Dynamic with fin(s) (DYN) competition. We are looking for athletes, judges, helpers and spectators. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
This British Freediving Championships is now known as ‘the event!’ because it is the largest gathering of like minded UK Freedivers in the calendar. Also, because of the good vibe the group always produces. It has been attended by a few International athletes and pretty much every single group in the UK has been represented. It might as well be a family day out the way everyone interacts, what a wonderful occasion. Some pictures here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GvcerCpXTIg
There were an unprecedented amount of personal bests achieved in 2012, many athletes reporting 3 PBs in three events, I think the trust in the safety staff and the relaxed atmosphere certainly helped. We have had at least two National records every year we have had the competition. It is a competition I encourage athletes from all abilities to attend, all are catered for, we aim to please.
Next year we hope for more athletes and aim to make it a truly International event, come join us, tell your friends. I will be putting accommodation and flight details up for those coming from Europe and beyond. Anyone interested in sponsoring this well attended established event, please contact Steve Millard.
Friday 16th March 2012: — Three British freediving athletes set incredible new records at the UK Indoor Nationals last weekend on 10th and 11th March; Georgina Miller pushed her own static record even further for the third time with 6 minutes 20; John Moorcroft took Chris Crawshaw’s brand new record with a Dynamic No Fins (DNF) swim of 153m; and to top off the excitement Chris reclaimed his record within the hour with an incredible DNF swim of 163m.
Georgina Miller, or George as she is known, has been training and competing for a few years now, but really found her confidence in 2009 when she made her first mark on the British records, with a static performance of 5 minutes 46 seconds. Since then she has gone from strength to strength, her second record coming just three months later when she became the first woman to break the magical six minute mark with a new records of 6:04. She knocked that record with 6:11 and now tops that with 6:20! George has represented the UK at all recent World Championships and also serves on the British Freediving Association.
She said: I had a great weekend getting a national record in the static of 6:20 and a first overall for the ladies. I would like to thank Daan Verhoeven who was a fantastic coach and has put lots of work into helping me, particularly in static. Thanks also to Orca for the wonderful sponsorship of the comp with a Breathe suit
John Moorcroft is one of British freedivin’s most consistent and persistent athletes and not only did he make a stunning performance with his second British record of 153m DNF (first in 2000 STA 5:05) at this year’s Indoor Nationals, he was also honoured with an Outstanding Achievement Award by the BFA for a decade of service to the freediving community. John’s commitment to competitive freediving goes back to 2000 when he competed in the 3rd ever AIDA World Championships in Ibiza. This weekend he not only took second place in DNF but also came third overall in the men’s competition. He is now in training for the UK Depth Nationals in Chepstow in May where he hopes to be in the mid-50s in Constant No Fins (CNF) and mid-60s in Constant Weight (CWT).
John said: Basically I’m really pleased with my record even if it only lasted an hour. My training is going well, and thanks go to Steve Millard for his coaching. I started snorkeling at the age of nine, and now at 44 my passion for breathhold diving depth and spearfishing mainly is stronger than ever. Thanks to PoloSub (www.polosub.com) for sponsoring me a new suit to keep me warm for my depth training in cold UK quarries over the next few months!
Chris Crawshaw is still cutting his teeth in freediving compared to John, but he is doing it in style. With two National Records in just two weeks, the first one was a beautiful 150m DNF hosted by www.totalfitness.co.uk and the second was a massive 163m in the main competition on the Saturday. This took the DNF record from 144m to a huge 163m, Chris has suddenly become a very compelling prospect for the future of British and possibly World freediving. He already has his first Worlds experience under his belt from the 2011 Indoor Championships in Lignano, Italy and is now setting his sights on even greater things. While he has a long way to go to the current DNF World record of 218m, with progression like this, who knows where he might end up!
Chris said: Thanks go first and foremost to Steve ‘raising the dead’ Millard because, as anyone who watches the video can see, without his coaching on the side it would probably have been a red card. That’s what it took, though, to put distance on John for whom I have so much respect as a diver and as a friend. I’m currently looking at a move out to New Zealand to train and to continue working as a doctor but the long term plan is to leave my job for a year and focus on the depth disciplines, providing I can find support and sponsors. It’s been such an incredible couple of weeks.
Thanks go to Steve Millard of Apneists UK, www.freedivers.co.uk for organising the event and coaching many of the athletes.
Prizes donated by Orca, Polosub, No Tanx and Emma Farrell
The British Freediving Association is pleased to announce that Steve Millard has been approved as a new AIDA Instructor Trainer by AIDA International.
After making his application to the BFA where Steve showed exceptional
levels of commitment, skill and experience as an AIDA Freediving Instructor
to the AIDA education system, he was recommended to AIDA International as a
candidate in 2011. When Steve got the good news last week that he had been
approved as an Instructor Trainer he said ‘I am really happy to be given
recognition of all my hard work teaching using the AIDA education system
over the last several years’. Steve has worked alongside the BFA & AIDA
International to help develop freediving as a whole within the UK , and he
had to show achievements in his own freediving. Whilst teaching he
has upheld AIDA recommended safety guidelines and developed his freediving
school to provide opportunities for freedivers across the UK.
Steve will now be offering AIDA Instructor courses to suitable candidates in the UK. We look forward to seeing the same high standards of teaching from Instructors who train with him.