daronDaron Joseph, a swim instructor and freediver from Newcastle, NSW, attended the Pan Pacific Championships as his first freediving competition. Daron has written up his reflections on his first competition, what he learnt, and what he plans to work on for future events. This little piece is a very handy insight into the feelings and emotions of a first competition – and the lessons learnt are a valuable toolkit for anybody thinking about their first freediving competition. We’d like to thank Daron for letting us post and share this, and look forward to seeing his progress in the Australian and international freediving scene.

This reflection of my experience at the Pan-Pacific Championships is meant only as a guide to provide insight and support for competitive first-timers.  In mental preparation to this event, I had already locked in the intrinsic motivation to use this competition as a learning tool. Little did I anticipate to the extent that this experience would evolve me as a freediver. Over the three days of competition I met national and world record holders that were only too happy to share some of their experiences both white card (white card is a clean performance) and red card (red card is a disqualification) moments.

How my three days went:

Day one of competition I felt good. I felt focussed and under the circumstances, pretty relaxed. This day I performed a static (STA) Personal Best (PB) in the pool of 5min 20s and came up clean receiving a white card, so far so good. I managed to stay relaxed and just tried to remember my training.

Moving on to day two, Dynamic No Fins (DNF) I had conflicting thoughts. In one way, I was feeling confident after having such a great start to the competition. However, in another way I was beginning to feel very conscious of the competitive environment. The odd thing was that this pressure was not being put on me from anyone else but me.  I tried to distract myself and recompose by thinking of how I had recently performed a PB of 125m in this discipline in training. The final 2 minutes were counted down and before I knew it I was pushing off the wall. The first 50m felt ok, but after the turn at 75m I could sense that I was not feeling as comfortable as I had felt when I swam DNF in training. I figured that my dive reflex would kick in and I’d soon be ‘in the zone’. Well, after turning at 100m, I pushed off the wall and that’s about all I remember. The next thing I know I’m in a vice grip from a safety diver telling me to breath and reassuring me that I’m ok at the 110m mark. As a result, I was put on oxygen for 5 minutes and examined be a medic.  And yes, why is it that with moments like that someone always has a camera