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The first freediving competition in Romania

The beginning of April hosted the first freediving competition ever to be organized in Romania – Romanian Freediving Challenge 2014. The competition, planned by Freediving Romania and AIDA Romania, with the support of the entire freediving community, took place at the “Sydney 2000” Olympic Complex swimming pool in Ciolpani commune, Izvorani village, near Bucharest, and was an AIDA international ranking competition.

The three disciplines in which took part 27 athletes (3 women and 24 men) from four countries (Romania, Cyprus, Serbia and Hungary) were: Static Apnea (STA), Dynamic No-Fins (DNF) and Dynamic with Fins (DYN).

Romanian Freediving Challenge 2014

The event opened on Friday, April 4th, day dedicated to the official registration of the participants, the official training and the safety course. Saturday, the competition started in the morning with the registration of more participants, followed by the Static discipline, Dynamic No-Fins, a short lunch break and the final discipline, Dynamic with Fins.

While the four judges from Romania/France, Romania/Denmark and Serbia were calculating the scores and establishing the rankings, an underwater hockey match took place, organized by two athletes from the French National team. The participants wore special headgear similar to those worn in water polo, armed themselves with a special stick, split into teams and total chaos broke loose while trying to score the puck in the adversary’s side, everything taking place while freediving.

After the official ranking was set, the award ceremony took place, with medals and prizes being handed out; the podium was entirely Romanian for the women and international for the men. The winners can be found here. After the award ceremony the group photo followed, the competition ending and giving space to the evening party.

At the end of the day, in the Old City, within the center of Bucharest, the after competition party took place, as well as the annual party of the Romanian freediving community, by now a tradition. The customary funny named diplomas were “awarded”, manually painted T-shirts were distributed, all in the idea of encouraging practicing freediving, as well as giving the community a reason to draw the line and enjoy a new year of performances and going beyond one’s limits.

Sergiu Șerban

MyDive.ro talked to Sergiu Şerban, the president of Freediving Romania and founding member of AIDA Romania, and participant and organizer in the competition, about the meaning of this first event organized in our country: “The first freediving competition in Romania established, above all else, a necessary precedent for the long term development of the community, adding the competitive aspect which the pool or depth competitions bring. The few very good results, for both males and especially females, give me the hope that it will motivate at least part of the people present or the ones who have just heard afterwards about the competition, in training regularly and exceeding their personal records and, why not, the national ones – the records are here to be overpassed.

Freediving Romania will be actively involved also in the future in the advancing of freediving in Romania, recreational as well as competitive, our intention being to organize at least an annual pool competition in the country, and a depth competition, together with a «sister» organization from the AIDA family.

Alexandru Russu

Arriving all the way from France to judge the Romanian Freediving Challenge 2014, Alexandru Russu, founding member of AIDA Romania, declared for mydive.ro: “This event was conceived as a marriage of complementary dimensions: the formal dimension in which the introduction of AIDA competitions in our country marks the entrance of Romania in the international freediving circuit and opening the international ranking to the people at large; and the major social event dimension which gathers together once per year the Romanian freediving community from every corner of the world, favoring the establishing of authentic relations between individuals following the model of the AIDA international community. Experience showed me that the motivation of having a result in an international ranking fades in front of inter-human relationships and the representatives of an individualistic sport by excellence succeed in creating one of the most altruistic communities I’ve known. Behind those meters and seconds, the target and the meaning of the competition lie in the inter-human relationships which get created. This is the message which I would like to convey to the 24 new freedivers taking part in our competition and especially to those who didn’t participate on account of «performances»! Next edition – April 2015!

Adriana Bantu

Adriana Bantu, the absolute female champion in this edition of the Romanian Freediving Challenge said for MyDive.ro: “The first freediving competition organized in Romania was beyond my expectations from an organizational point of view, as well as from the awards given point of view. I am glad I managed to come home and see many more Romanian freedivers than I met 2 years ago, when AIDA Romania was founded. I was nervous during the competition, as I am in any other competitions I attend to, because it is easy to make a mistake when you lose your focus even for a bit. More than the first place I wished very much to succeed in reaching 125m in DYN and 75m in DNF, which were the maximum distances I accomplished during the training up until that moment. For the STA discipline I wished I could have surpassed 6 minutes so I could take the absolute national record, but it wasn’t meant to be in Romania, but a week later in Cyprus, when I reached 6’34’’. The mood during the competition was very pleasant and I felt somehow like home. It was a great pleasure to learn to know more members of the Romanian freediving community, all very special people, which I can’t wait to meet again at the next competition or maybe, let’s hope, at a depth training in the Mediterranean Sea.

Regarding the male ranking, this was divided into two rankings depending on what was taken into consideration. In the AIDA official ranking, with a cumulated score of the three disciplines, the champion was Marian Deciu, who said for MyDive.ro: “The competition experience was the second one of this sort, the first one taking place in the autumn of last year in Sofia. Even though I obviously don’t have a rich experience in this area, I can still say that the location and the organization of the competition were really good, even surprisingly good for the debut of the Romanian freediving in this field. Personally I felt great, both because we were all gathered together, as well as because of the results I achieved in two of the disciplines and which for me were «personal bests»: in DNF 94m and in DYN 129m. Unfortunately, in the static discipline I couldn’t relax sufficiently before and during the attempt, I arrived late at the swimming pool and I was one of the first to start, but the experience mattered because I learned by myself how I should tackle this discipline and that I should give the proper attention to advance relaxation. That doesn’t mean that I was too relaxed in DYN or DNF, I was nervous plenty… You know how it is… the time spent with friends sharing the same passion is wonderful and that mattered a lot. Usually you say that if there’s water and sun everything is perfect! Now this competition made from a day of storm and rain one of the most beautiful days so far this year… and it made me believe that the next edition will be amazing.

Marian Deciu (left), Adrian Sandu (center)

In the Romanian Freediving Challenge ranking, calculated with a cumulated score of the best two disciplines, absolute male champion is Adrian Sandu who shared with MyDive.ro what meant for him this competition: “It’s a project materialized into reality, achieved through the voluntary work and passion of the organizers. I am extremely happy that the small freediving community finally reached that «critical mass» and so it was possible to organize the first event of this kind in Romania. I hope that this competition will be the first edition of a recurring annual event which in time will attract more and more attendees, local and international. I felt amazing, surrounded by friends and beautiful people inclined towards nature and attracted to underwater exploration in its oldest and purest existing form: that of free diving. About the results, the achievements come in time with regular training. In competition it is much more difficult to reach the peaks in performance that you reach while training when you are perfectly relaxed.

It is worth mentioning that, behind the scenes, the entire effort of the organizers and of all those who helped, from the smallest to the biggest, was seen very clearly, as crystal clear as the water of the swimming pool in which the freediving disciplines took place. The feedback was extremely positive; all participants were contented and appreciated the professionalism of the organizers. And once again it was obvious that freediving is more than a sport, is a binding agent who brings people close; it unites them and brings forward the best in each and every one.

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