Monday, May 19, 2008

Freedive for Charity - raising money in the green.

Brrrr!!!!!!!After my 9th hot chocolate I think I am thawed out again.

I'm glad to report that the dive was a resounding success, 40m was achieved but way more importantly nearly £600 was raised for Children with Leukaemia which is absolutely fantastic. In particular the community were very generous (considering freedivers are often short of a penny), leading the donation charge.
Here's how the day went down - we arrived at Chepstow and it was an unusually warm and sunny day, not like the usual mud-pan in the carpark like the last dozen times we've dived. We expected water temps to be a bit nasty still, and this was confirmed when we jumped in - the gauges read about 10deg on the surface and we were told around 4-6 deg at depth. What struck us as amazing though was the visability - at least 15m vis which is incredibly rare and certainly the best vis i've seen there in nearly 3 years of diving there. Did I mention cold? Brr!

I had not performed a Constant Weight dive since roughly October last year so I was a bit rusty. Given the cold conditions I had a reduced warm up and jumped in 15 minutes before, did a pull down to 15m for about 45 seconds before I started shivering and headed back to the surface. I did a quicker FRC dive not long afterwards then headed for the line with 2 minutes to my offical top. At OT I packed, took off and started down the line. Equalising was ok but I noticed that the Geek Squad tshirt I was wearing (my workplace) was causing a lot of drag and I had to kick a bit harder. At around 24m I stopped kicking and started my glide which seemed pretty normal and equalising seemed ok despite the cold. my depth alarm went off at 35m and I opened my eyes and looked around to see where the cameras were. I grabbed my tag, turned, quickly posed for the vid camera (yes I am a born poser!) started my ascent, posed for another snap with the stills camera, then started up the rope with a few strong kicks. I was feeling a tug on my lanyard for a few metres then I realised that I was following the scuba diveline and not my own diveline and was dragging the comp line along on an angle. I did a 180 degree turn and followed the proper line up the rest of the way. I have to say it was hard work, partly because i'm not that fit at the moment and partly because the tshirt was creating a lot of drag so I hard to kick a lot more than normal. I got to the surface no problems, did my SP and was all smiles The following day I did a 45m dive which felt a lot easier, it's great to be back in the water again doing some monofinning.

I have to thank some people for all their help (apologies in advance if I forget anyone!!!) - Sam Kirby for letting us use the Saltfree facilities, Laura Storm and the Angels (esp Simon) for both keeping us safe and taking stills and video (and extra thanks for Laura for helping out with all the logistics, initial ideas & planning the whole thing), Dave Morgan, Anna von Boetticher and the rest of the crew for providing freedive safety, Mark Harris (and Laura) for all the early ideas and helping to put the whole project into a concept and into a reality, everyone that helped out here and there and provided support and finally to everyone that donated, you're all stars!

There should be some vid coming soon'ish, watch this space....

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Freedive for Charity

At the moment I work at Geek Squad, and a while back the guys were throwing around ideas of how they could raise some money for their chosen charity, Children With Leukaemia. The mentioned in an internal memo that the wackier the better. And when a freediver hears something like that it's not hard to figure out what they're planning. I thought something a bit different would be a constant weight freedive so I put my hand up for that, not even thinking that at this time of year the water is only a couple of degrees above freezing...

Children with Leukaemia is a fantastic endeavour that helps fight the fight for people who haven't yet had a chance to live their lives. They fund research and welfare programs as well as raising awareness of the disease that affects around 500 kids a year in the UK.

So on May 3rd 2008 i'll be doing a freedive at the National Diving and Activity Centre, near Chepstow. This dive will involve me diving 40m deep underwater on a single breath of air, only using a specialised fin for propulsion down and back up.

I'm getting safety support from Laura Storm and her awesome team Angels of the deep, as well as surface freedive safety from some of the crew at

Please visit and throw some cash my way and in turn i'll turn into an icicle for your pleasure!

On the horizon...

There's a few things in the pipeline that will keep me very busy over the next few months up to the end of July.

On May 3 i'm doing a charity Constant Weight dive (more on that in another post) down at Chepstow, then the following weekend there's the The Great Camberwell Breath Hold. This is a static, dynamic & dynamic no-fins comp at a really nice 25m pool. It's a bit old and shabby looking but it has tons of character and has a cool Victorian feel to it.

Now since Egypt in December i've really been out of the training loop, in fact all the combined record and Christmas celebrating left me about 8kg bigger than what I was in December, a fact I wasn't too impressed with. So between now and then there's an awful lot of exercise going on, a complete ban of carbohydrates (the nasty kinds anyway - bread, sugar, starchy veges, alcohol - basically anything that's fun and tastes good) and a ramped up pool training schedule. Add the next problem - because of pool closures and personal holidays, i've only got about 3 pool sessions
before the comp. So naturally i've got to get it into my head that I shouldn't be expecting the same performances I was doing at the Worlds last year. Still, i'll give it a good working over though...

In between now and the end of May i'm manically doing my AIDA 3* and 4* education courses. Finding an Instructor for these courses proved to be pretty difficult but at the last moment I got lucky and have a couple of Instructors helping me out now. I just have to find the weekends to fit them in now!

The reason i'm doing the 3 & 4 star courses is that they are pre-requisites for the AIDA Instructor course which i'm enrolled to do in Egypt in mid June. I'm doing this through Freedive Dahab. Just before this course starts there is the famous Triple Depth competition at the Blue Hole, 3 days, 3 disciplines. In the past this has been an amazing competition and one i've always wanted to do, even before I left Australia. So it works out well that it's around the same time as my course, and even better that my contract at work finishes at the beginning of June which fits perfectly.

I get home at the end of June from all of that and then have a couple of weeks off before the British Depth Championships are on in Chepstow, the great Saltfree Double Dip. This comp is always a lot of fun and it's in my backyard so there's no excuse. In the past i've come 3rd and 2nd - being an Analyst that tells me that this year is my year, but hey - when have statistics ever gone right?

After all that i'm going to drink beer. A lot of beer....

Berlin Championship, 23 Feb 2008. Judging my first comp

A while ago a mate, Martin Müller told me that he was organising the Berlin Championships in Germany and asked if I would be a judge for it. Martin and I met in 2006 at the World Championships in Hurghada, and we both did our Judges course in Maribor, Slovenia at the 2007 World Championships. He's one of the nicer chaps in freediving and has some grand schemes to put German freediving back into the front of the pack, as they were a few years ago.

I've done a little judging since the July 07 course - I had judged Liv Philip's Dynamic No-Fins Women's British record of 104m as well as recently Alan Barber's 127m Dynamic No-Fins Men's British record (I guess there's a resurgence of no-fins in Britain?). But essentially i've had little reason to pull out the rules since July last year, except for the occasional argument on so I was keen to get some judging experience before heading back to Australia to do some judging back home. So quite rightly I was shitting myself at various points in the fortnight leading up to the competition day.

We arrived late on a Friday night and were supposed to meet up with Martin and few others for a late beer however we didn't realise that our hotel shut it's doors at midnight and we didn't get there until 12:15am. We called the emergency phone number and waited as it started to rain, then hail, then finally the guy came and let us in. By the time we made it to the bar (only across the road) the guys were completely knackered so we said hello, did a round of hugs then they all trotted off to bed while Pen and I had a beer and then had an amusing adventure trying to find, and order, a german kebab for dinner, then trotting off to bed a bit after 3am.

Saturday morning we got up and had brekky. Our hotel was across the road from Martin's apartment; by a strange co-incidence, Martin's apartment and Anna von Boetticher's apartment were on the same street (Anna is another german freedive friend that lives in London and Berlin - funny how freedivers seem to find each other!) , so after brekky we wandered down the road to Anna von Boetticher's house to see the guys. There were a bunch of people staying with Anna - from the UK there was Tim Money and Sara Campbell, and from the south in Konstanz was Richard Wonka, who originally came up to observe and help out but caught the bug and was co-erced into signing up not long after he arrived. All of them are good mates and it was funny seeing them together in a flat in Berlin. After a while it was fairly apparent that a couple of people were suffering from nerves as it was either their first pool comp or close to their first one. We chatted for a bit then left to catch up with Martin and Elisabeth Kristoffersen, who I was catching public transport to the pool with. Pen went off to do some sightseeing and Martin, Elisabeth and I jumped on the train.

After we arrived I started having feelings of how weird it was being there as a judge, when numerous old friends came up and said hello and were shocked when I said I was judging, not competing (my name was not published anywhere as judge). Up to that point I knew exactly nothing of what I had to do or who the other judges were. After a bit I found out who the judges were which was a pleasant surprise. Two of them, Katja Kedenburg and Hans Pütz had judged me in my very first competition in Greene, Germany in January 2006. To be judging next to them 2 years later seemed to be a cool full circle kind of thing.

I spent a bit of time catching up with old mates, struggling to remember a couple of names initially but it all came together after a minute or three. Heard some disturbing yet funny stories too - Denmark's Henning Larsen had been shot in the eye in a hunting accident. The bullet had lodged in the corner of his eye (not the eyeball) and surgeons could not remove it. To prove this point he pulled a small magnet out of his wallet and stuck it to his eye, quite freaky yet fascinating. He was not sure what would happen with his depth diving as air could leak out of his eye socket now, which, if you think about it is probably a blessing for depth because you don't have to equalise your mask.

Plenty of old mates from past comps were running around, many I met at the 2007 World Championships in Maribor. It was awesome catching up with them all but after a while I figured out there were a ton of things I needed to do before the actual comp started.

The judges communed to one side and we had a little briefing with the organiser to get some of the basics out of the way, then the athletes ran off to get changed and start their preparations while we did some more briefing and started to discuss a few issues around the rules. Afterwards we gathered all the athletes together for a brief in German, then it was thrown over to me to do an incredibly brief brief, given I had no idea what the first guy had said and hadn't known I had to say anything at all up until that point.

Not long after was the first official top for Static, and the 45 minutes warm up beforehand was spent by the judges picking their zones, looking for stopwatches, cards, food, water (all the essential bits). A few things went missing in the preparations: a couple of minutes before OT Katja still didn't have a camera in her zone and I didn't have a timekeeper. But we were sorted out with plenty of seconds to spare.

The first person I judged was Denmark's Sanne Rasmussen, who surfaced at 4:36 and whilst clean, she wasn't happy at all and was swearing at herself and looking very disappointed. She looked that angry that I actually thought for a second that maybe she had disqualified herself and I had missed it, but I put my doubts away and awarded a white card as I saw nothing wrong. It turned out she was expecting somewhere around 5 minutes but didn't have the will to fight, something i'm all too familiar with.

So first person done, the nerves started calming down and I got into the rhythm for a bit. Then along came a German woman with her husband safetying. She performed around 3:50 I think, came up and was clean, and started into her surface protocol by taking her mask off, said "i'm ok" then gave the ok sign, which is in the wrong order (must be mask/facial equipment, ok sign, then "i'm ok"). I thought to myself "oh crap... that's a red card" and waited for the 30 seconds to expire, then told her I was very sorry but she did the SP in the wrong order and I had to give her a red card. She got a bit confused, then angry, then her husband got angry and they were both trying to tell me it was in the correct order. I repeated that it was in the wrong order and it was quite clear but they wouldn't believe me. It took both the safety diver and the timekeeper to confirm to her the result before she would get out of the pool. She certainly put the doubt in my mind as to whether she did it correctly or not, but I stuck to my guns, and after all, I had a clear view and I wasn't hypoxic at the time so I guess I should have seen it better than her!

Not long afterwards Sara Campbell came into my zone. Sara is the current Women's World Champion Constant Weight diver and has 3 depth world records, not bad for a chick that's 4 foot 11 inches! There had been a lot of media surrounding Sara and she had announced that she would be attempting to break both the static and dynamic British national records. Knowing that she had almost zero experience in the pool, I was a bit worried, as experience told me that athletes who excel in the ocean often bomb out in the pool the first time, as they have the "go hard" attitude of a competitor at the top of their game, but no experience in disciplines that are very different. This was also highlighted by info on DeeperBlue in an article about Sara saying that many people compared deep results to pool potential - a four minute dive can be doubled to give an eight minute static. This info, in my eyes is very misleading for many different reasons, so I was a bit worried that Sara was just going to go for broke and have some sort of spectacular blackout. In the end my worries were completely waylaid when she performed a lovely clean 4:34 with a perfect SP. Regardless of all the hype up in the press leading up to the comp, she was quite realistic in her expectations which was good to see.

As the Announcements increased gradually the performances started getting over 5 minutes and eventually the last person in my group came along, Denmark's world record holder Stig Severinsen. Stig's a bit of a colossal man and in every comp i've attended he has always had something to say about the rules, and I think he really does like to test the rules a bit. With that in mind I was sure he was going to really test me on some point or another, and seeing that it was Stig and it was almost the last static there was a reasonable crowd watching. Once again luck was on my side and he did a flawless 7 and a half minutes, but grumbled a bit that he wasn't sure whether to push to 8 or not. Wish I had those sorts of dilemas....

With Static now over a huge weight was lifted and it felt like I was getting into the rhythm. We had a break where we scoffed down copious bananas and apples (hadn't eaten since breakfast and it was 8pm so I was a bit delirous with hunger!) and got our sheets for the next event of Dynamic. Since there was only 2 lanes for dynamic we were judging in pairs.

Hans and I worked quite well together, he is an experienced judge and (hopefully) I picked up a lot from him. A few athletes in, the girl I had DQ'ed in static was breathing up in our lane. I wasn't sure if she hated me at that point but she definitely wasn't smiling at me. She took her last breath and took off. Her PB was somewhere around the 70m mark Hans told me, and when she got to around 70m she started looking up ahead then speeding up, two classic signals that someone is pushing hard and could well black out. She got to 100m and came up, as I was close I was right in front of her, she stared at me while she took a couple of big breaths, took her mask off, gave an incredibly large and obvious ok sign and yelled out "I AM OK", to which everyone standing around started laughing, myself included. We gave her the white card and I was relieved that I didn't have to DQ someone twice in the same comp.

Not long after we had a Belgian guy called Dirk who was an interesting character, after he took off Hans mentioned that he was colourblind. He eventually came up, did his protocol and stared kind of blankly at us for a while. Hans and I waited the 30 seconds and both gave him a white card, to which he did not react a bit and kept staring in at us for a few more seconds, until Hans and I both yelled at the same time "WHITE CARD!!!", and he smiled and hopped out of the water. I had to use every ounce of strength not to completely piss myself laughing.

Eventually we got to the big boys again, the Danes Stig and Henning. Stig did an incredibly impressive (to us mortals anyway) 203m but came up in his usual manner looking clean as a whistle and chatting away to anyone around, like he'd only swum a couple of metres. Henning came up at 200m and wasn't as chirpy as Stig but was pretty clean nonetheless.

And that was that, with the comp over we all packed up and headed to the clubhouse for some food (my stomach was eating itself by that stage) and some well earned beer. The guys at the clubhouse put on a huge meal for us all and we sat around talking, laughing and carrying on all night. There was a protest earlier in the night that took some time to deal with, it was a bit unfortunate as it was a protest from someone who didn't even compete in dynamic, protesting a white card that was given to Martin Legat. Martin had grabbed for the edge as he came up and the person that protested said that he had done the same a year earlier and had received a penalty. In essence he was protesting to highlight the fact that the particular rule is not objective and is not well understood by many freedivers. In the end we watched the video many times and had an anonymous vote of which the result was to uphold the current result.

After that, straight back to the beer! We had a presentation and after what seemed about 10 minutes, it was nearly 3am and Martin had ordered a taxi for he and Elisabeth. We jumped in with them, got home then met team England/Germany (Anna, Richard, & Tim) for a quick cocktail before bed. Not before finding a currywurst first though ;-)

The next day we trundled across the road for a wonderful brunch with Martin and Elisabeth, after which we realised we were very late for Elisabeth's train back to Aarhus. After missing it at the first station, we jumped the city train and managed to get it at the last second at it's next stop. It was way too close for comfort and poor Lizzy wasn't too impressed with us I think!

Martin gave us a wonderful tour around Berlin, including a stop at a hotel with a huge aquarium surrounding the elevator in the lobby - so cool! He also took us on trip to show us some grand plans of his - not sure how much of it i'm allowed to say so i'll shut up now.

Conclusion: Great competition, stressy but cool, brilliant city, fantastic people and mates. Couldn't ask for a better weekend really!

Big thank you to Eva and Igor for the use of their photos - ta!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Dive Profiles

Here are the dive profiles of all three dives.

Free Immersion

The wiggles in the line here are where i'm pulling with the same hand my dive computer is on. I took my last pull at around 27m and started my freefall, though I took another pull at around 35m.

Variable Weight

You can see on this profile the slow start of the sled, then at around 15m it starts picking up speed. Despite a little narcosis a fairly quick transition at the bottom and i'm off to the surface in no time.

No Limits

Similar start though it's a little quicker because there's no monofin causing drag. This time there was quite a bit of narcosis and so it took me a bit more time to fill up the bag and get on my way, though much much better than my first few attempts. I planned on jumping off the sled at around 40m but the narcosis got to me and I was enjoying myself too much. I'd let go by around 15m and grabbed the rope at 10m to slow down the last remaining metres.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

And the crowd goes wild.... 'ish

It's been a while since my last post, that's a combination of laziness as well as waiting for a few media articles to come out. A press release was sent out to a few media outlets, chiefly a couple of national papers back in Australia and a couple of magazines. I must say I was quite disappointed by the take up in Aus - Australian media is funny at the best of times, they will happily have half a page in the paper about a neighbour digging a hole in their backyard or a dog that got stuck in a cat flap, but when it comes to something with a bit more substance they don't particularly care. And with freediving in particular they are very strange - with the amount of backard pools in Australia there are a number of drownings each year and so they attribute that to freediving. I remember the local dive store being interviewed once about the dangers of freediving when a kid died doing laps underwater and being egged on by his mates - when he eventually blacked out they thought he was joking and jumped on his back. Tragic stuff but what does that have to do with freediving or apnea? It's that sort of attitude in Australia that holding breath = death that really stifles any media attention. Do I sound bitter enough yet? It happens quite a bit here in the UK too - I remember in October 2007 England had a horrible sport weekend - amongst other things they lost the Rugby World Cup to South Africa and Lewis Hamilton choked and lost his world championship. However the spark of the weekend was that Sara Campbell had nailed 3 world records in 3 consecutive days, a feat never achieved by anyone, let alone a Brit. Back in London the weekly Sport Magazine had a column for "good week for, bad week for" which had one sentence on Campbell. A few pages on there was a full page story on a 15 year old that was playing ping pong in China. No wonder this country's screwed at sport (whoops, did I just say that??). Anyway whinge over....

One article that did make it to press in Aus was my local paper, which was a strange little experience. Late one night I was on Skype talking to Mum and Dad and I mentioned that there might be something in the paper to watch out for. After a bit we said goodbye and I was just about to shut the computer down when Mum rang back and said that a reporter was on the landline and was asking questions about me. She told the reporter I was online and she would call me so he could ask questions. So before I could figure out what was really going on, he would ask Mum a question, Mum would repeat the question to me, then hold the home phone up to her computer speakers so the reporter could hear my responses. So in effect I was being interviewed by Mum. In freediving context i've been interviewed in the past by BBC Radio, i've been live to air on Egyptian television but being interviewed by my mum was the single most weird thing i've had to do in a long time.
Mum: Are you worried that something will go wrong and you'll die Ben?
Ben: Ummm, errrr... no mum, i'm not going to die
Mum: It's a very dangerous sport isn't it Ben?
Ben: ummmm... well.... not really if you have proper safety in place which we alwa...
Mum: But haven't some people died?
Ben: ah... (sweating) there have been a couple of incidents..

Anyway you get the point.... some things you don't really want to explain to your mum. The article ended up quite good - a couple of misquotes here and there and a couple of "death defying crazy extreme sport" kind of references but i'd always be surprised if they didn't put that angle on it. And they used a great photo from Laura Storm so it was great to see her awesome photography getting another plug. Mum and Dad were a bt chuffed because they sent a photographer around to the beach to take a photo of them. I think until that point they thought it was all a bit of a joke. They were loving it when the paper came out - people were stopping them in the street so they had a bit of celebrity status for a couple of weeks, bless 'em.

Click on the article to read.

In the March edition of Diver Magazine there was an article on both Mark and I. The main focus was on Mark which understandable as it was supposed to be focusing on the British side of things. But I got a mention so it goes on the list.

On the internet there were a couple of bits and pieces, including Deeper Blue, an international underwater website and the Diver magazine online. Here's a couple of them:

Matt Kitchen provided some superb footage that he edited together, here is the YouTube version:

Finally, here are some of the links to photos around the traps - you may recognise some already as i've borrowed extensively:


Sam Kirby's

Laura Storm's
These are spread around a bit so if you get lost go here and they should be around page 4 or so. Well worth searching around though.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Game, set match. Thank you ref, thank you ballboys...

We came, we saw, we conquered. We snorted saltwater, coughed blood, ate camel, got rope burn, got colds, got better, strained muscles, got flu's, made numerous dashes to the toilet, saw dead dogs, cats, camels and corals, saw live ones too, saw what Harrods chocolates can do to two ladies stuck in the desert, we inhaled, we exhaled, we inhaled more and more and more, got chaffed lips, threw up, rinsed sinues, and threw up again. But not all at the same time.

We dived, dived and dived. And somewhere in the middle we got our National records. Mark got the British National Records for Free Immersion (64m) and Variable Weight (80m), whilst I got the Aussie National Records for Free Immersion (50m), Variable Weight (72m) and No-Limits (80m). It was gut wrenching to watch Anne-Marie get sicker and sicker until she couldn't dive any more, particularly as we were going in the oppposite direction and getting over our illnesses as we went along.

Going from the initial discussion of record setting through to the finished event there were a whole legion of butler monkeys doing our bidding. Without them we would have been stuffed, plain and simple. Hopefully i'll remember them all here, and if not then i'm sure the Edit button still works for when I am reminded what a twat I am a bit later. So anyway, in no particular order here is a bunch of thankyou's...

Anne Marie Kitchen-Wheeler was a great team mate and provided us with support and encouragement, hopefully next time the gods will smile a bit more on her.

Sofus Kreutzmann was in Dahab to do a little training but ended up spendin 95% of his time safetying for us, a huge endeavour given it was his holiday time. He also busied himself with everything else like setting up the training lines to pulling the ridulously heavy sled up from depth. With Sofus's help it allowed us to relax a bit and concentrate on the job at hand. Plus he's a great guy to hang around anyway so i'm glad we were blessed with his company.

Katerina Smirnova, the Ukranian who was on an extended holiday in Egypt graciously took on the job of chief AIDA cameraperson, sitting in the cold wind filming our dives - thanks a lot Kat!

All the local guys that helped out - There were a couple of Mohammed's around that helped us to no end - Mohammed the driver who took us out to the Blue Hole everyday and back, Mohammed in the restaurant that stored our equipment and waited on us hand and foot as well as the other guys in the restaurant that treated us like royalty. Nicer guys are impossible to find!

Sam Kirby - luckily Sam was out in Dahab the same time as we were and made herself more than available to help safety, take photos, pull ropes and pitch in all over the place. And somewhere in the middle she got a bit of depth and started feeling the love again. After seeing Sam teach non-stop for a year and not do any diving herself it was nice to see her with the monofin back on.

Our safety scuba team.... where do you start? Wilfry and Dean - cool guys. Dean in particular was cool because he is a Canadian extreme sport sort of dude that wears a bandanna, does extreme-type activities and says things like "gnarly" all the time. Everytime he opened his mouth it was to stoke our egos so he was a pleasure to hang out with. The guys did some long dives without (much) complaint so a big thanks to the lads.

Matt Kitchen - safety scuba and videographer. A HUGE amount of cred for this guy. As a freediver, AIDA judge, BFA committee member and coach/hubby he knows the sport back to front and gave us tons of advice. As a scuba safety guy he also did some long dives and made sure we stayed safe. As a Videographer he put in a herculian effort to film all our record dives as well as some of our training one. Matt is a stunning video man but it was only afterwards that we saw the rest of his video talent when he presented us with the finished video - high quality footage matched with rockin beats and edited perfectly (i'll post up a link shortly). I can't imagine how much time went into it and all of it off the cuff - we never asked for any of it! Thanks Matt.

Laura Storm - shining star and rock goddess! Laura was instrumental in all of our preparations
- from offering advice on safety setups and various diving configurations to decompression advice, putting the scuba team together, diving tirelessly, keeping our spirits up when we were starting to snap, keeping us hydrated, motivating us to do our best and keeping us in check when we all went a bit silly. And on top of that taking some stunning photos as well, most of the photos i've used on the blog are from her talented hand. Simply brilliant, that chick.

Lotta Ericson and Linda Paganelli - owners of Freedive Dahab and all the equipment we used as well as our judges. I can't imagine how shitty that week would have been without these guys. Not to far away from our target dates we had a few worries with equipment maintenance and prices and for a little bit we were unsure if it was even going to go ahead. However the guys put a lot of work in to make sure everything was ok for our arrival. When we first saw the rig we realised how much work it would have taken to lug it all out there and moor it in place. They were incredibly friendly, supportive, flexible and gave us a safe environment to train in each day. No-one lost their cool and they made everything stress free for us, which was great seeing as we would find just about anything stressful each day! Thanks so much guys.

Mark Harris - my teammate, training buddy, mentor, lifestyle co-ordinator and fashion consultant. Whenever i'm frazzled by anything Mark seems to be able to put the logic back in and things make sense again. Training and competing with Mark has given me a wealth of knowledge and experience and he is one of the most selfless people around. He pretty much single-handedly organised our whole excursion and made sure everything ran to plan. Great Britain is a much better freediving nation because of him! Thanks for everything mate.

Finally, the love of my life, the cheese and kisses, my wife Pen. Being a freedive widow is a pretty hard thing but she manages to do it with style. She also keeps me sane and puts perspective in my life. Love you babe!

Oh and how can I forget my fans...

Right, I think that's about it for now. The task at hand now is to get back into normal life after such a brilliant holiday. Wish me luck....