Blue Element 2018 recap

Hey! It’s been a while, I know, but to be fair, I had no WiFi in Dominica—just sketchy mobile data. So here’s the scoop:

Blue Element 2018 is a wrap, and despite a short and frustrating training period, I left Dominica with a new Canadian national record in Free Immersion (78m!), third place overall, a surprisingly easy personal best dive after the comp, and a big smile.

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All smiles! Photo: Daan Verhoeven

Ohhh, training. Turns out spending all summer in shallow waters makes it difficult to jump back into depth. Shocker, right? Though I had a strong showing at my first competition in May, the reality is that I have but a few weeks of cumulative experience doing proper depth training, and I do not have this deep equalization thing solid yet. I found myself stuck in an EQ hell of early turns, which was hard to swallow (unlike my mouthfill—ha!), especially having scrimped and saved all summer to make attending the competition possible. I felt crushed under the weight of my own expectations, plus those of others.

Shrugging off my lacklustre training period, I decided to focus on what I enjoy most: deep, bad-ass Free Immersion dives. I started the competition with smooth, fun, and easy dives to 72m and 75m before announcing a new national record dive of 78m. Although I made the dive to 78m easily enough, I made some mistakes before and during the dive, and as a result, it was a bit of a slog; I wasn’t happy with my performance.

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Doing what I do best…pulling! Photo: Daan Verhoeven

So, time to switch it up with a CNF dive to 51m. Not a personal best, and though I originally planned to announce something deeper, I ditched my CNF training early on due to, well…not enjoying CNF, at all. The dive went perfectly; just a few months ago, working on CNF in the 50m range filled me with dread, but after this dive, I realized, “Hey. I got this. That was hard work, yes, but overall it was kind of easy. Hmm. Maybe I even enjoyed some small part of it.” Perhaps I’ll resume CNF training…perhaps.

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Almost (but not quite) enjoying some no-fins. Photo: Howard Holtzman

I threw in a CWT dive for fun, announcing 71m simply as an inappropriate inside joke dedicated to…well, you know who you are 😆. Though I’m loving the movement and have been tidying up my technique, I don’t get to dive with the monofin for most of the year, and putting this beautiful thing on my feet wreaks havoc on my EQ. I didn’t want to stress, and this was a straightforward dive.

On the last competition day, I announced 80m FIM—I dive I have done before, perfectly clean and smooth, but a dive that would require me to focus. A bit tired mentally, I swallowed my mouthfill at 70 (oops), turned, and enjoyed the long ascent. It would have probably been possible to ride my ears from 70 to 80m, but I did not want to find out or stress out. That’s not how I want to do my dives. I wanted to enjoy, regardless of the result. So I did, with a nice mouthfill-belch and a big smile at the surface, surrounded by all the lovely people who supported me throughout training and the competition.

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Tagless but loving every moment. Photo: Matthieu Duvault

What ended up being important was not the individual dives, the numbers, or the final results. It was the learning, the laughs, and the people.

Speaking of the people, some huge thanks are in order to:

  • The safeties, not only for doing what they do, and doing it extremely well, but for being such top-notch folks outside of the water, too.
  • The other athletes for their amazingness, pep talks, and camaraderie.
  • My Canadian “teammate” Matt and his fabulous better half Kiki for coaching me at the surface.
  • All the doctors and medics present for taking such fine care of us.
  • Wes and Jon of Soufriere Guesthouse for being the hosts with the most, by far!

And of course, thanks to Jonny and Sofi for throwing such an amazing event and bringing us all together!

I absolutely recommend Dominica as a freediving destination. The conditions were as close as you can get to perfect, and I hope to return in the not-too-distant future to train just for fun—and to make my EQ rock-solid! 👌

Cover photo credit to @mattfreediver.

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