Cayman’s top freedivers will be competing for national honours in the first-ever Cayman Open National Championships. The event is taking place alongside this year’s Déjà Blue coaching camp and competition, from 14-21 May.
“We are constantly getting new members, people are joining all the time,” said Cayman Freediving Association chairman Jeremy Walton.
He told Cayman 27 the sport has grown by leaps and bounds since the organisation’s inception last July. He said it is poised to grow even further, with a partnership with Performance Free diving International.
“This has been a real game changer for Cayman to associate with performance free diving, to be able to host for the first time, the Cayman Open National Championships which are taking place at the same time as Déjà Blue in a couple weeks,” said Mr. Walton.
“It’s really cool to see free diving really taking off in Cayman,” said Performance Freediving International founder and CEO Kirk Krack, who has been hosting free diving competitions in Cayman for more than a decade.
“The walls are deep and sharp right close to shore, so it makes it really ideal for free diving, especially competition,” he said.
Professional free divers like Chinese national record holder Jessea Lu, who can dive to more than 260 feet on a single breath, and who’s static breath hold time is more than eight minutes told Cayman 27 the sport has something for everyone.
“Free diving is not only for competitors, it’s a very very fun recreational activity, a lot of people can enjoy it, going down taking photos and playing like a mermaid,” said Ms. Lu, who named Cayman as her favourite place to compete.
While Ms. Lu and other top free diving athletes are on-island doing their thing, they’re sharing advice and giving encouragement.
“When I come up during my tiny personal best on any of my dives, these people are giving me a high-five, and are as happy for me as I am so myself, which is amazing,” said Mr. Walton of the in-water camaraderie the athletes share.
While this year’s nationals are a promising start, Mr. Walton told Cayman 27 he has some big dreams for Cayman’s free diving future.
“The next step for us is ultimately to host the world championships,” he said.
To illustrate how much the sport has grown, Mr. Walton said three local free divers participated in last year’s Deja Blue. This year, twelve will be competing in the national open.