With less than two weeks remaining until the start of the 2015 pool freediving world championships, I have landed, bright tailed and bushy eyed, in Italy to recover from jetlag. Flying halfway across the world before competing is generally suboptimal, so the plan from here is to recover for a few days before flying to Belgrade where the hard work begins. I’ll have a few days to get used to the pool before the first event, so I should be able to remind myself how to swim before the event kicks off. 122 athletes from 27 nations have registered to compete, so competition will be tough. I’d like to say thanks to everyone who’s trained with me and helped me prepare over the last few months, because this is a sport you ALWAYS need a buddy with you! Special thanks go to Mal, Dave, Paul and Lance, who all got pretty regular texts or calls to head down to the pool – usually with short notice! Many others also joined me at various times and I appreciate them all making the effort and putting up with my technique critiques.

Many people have helped me get here, both directly and indirectly. There are too many to mention, but a few souls cannot be left off. Fran, for being the first person to teach me to freedive many years ago, Kathryn for being my ultra-competitive training buddy and pushing me to start competing, Dave for technique work and redefining the boundaries and the Lazy Seals, whom I’ve been a part of for over eight years, for always being there. Finally, a special mention goes to Mal for his tireless work gathering sponsorship, along with those sponsors who were kind enough to help offset the rather hefty cost of the competition. I hope to repay that faith.

The intent is to treat this as an informal log of my time at the world champs with all its highs and lows – though with any luck the former will outnumber the latter. This will be my fourth pool world champs, to go with two depth world champs, and all have had a different feel to them. Some constants remain though. You can rely on athletes to spend an unhealthy amount of time before (and during) the competition talking about things out of their control. The talk is about training – too much? Not enough? The right kind? We speculate on what distances and times will be required to make finals. Who will win and how far will they go? We worry about diet, sleep, equipment, pool temperature and the weather. There’s always a feeling of stress and anticipation in the air. For everyone attending, this is a big part of their lives. It defines many of us, or at least helps to. No wonder we want to try to exert some control over it, even if that’s not always possible. When you train for months and travel all that way for perhaps just a single dive of a few minutes, you really want those minutes to go well!

Over the next few weeks I’ll be posting my thoughts when I can, assuming I have any. In the mean time, I’m off to find some pasta.

Ciao from Rome,
Chris Marshall