Croatian Diaspora: Venezuelan Iru Balic Breaks Freediving National Record!

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Adriatic Freediving Official Facebook Page
Adriatic Freediving Official Facebook Page

The Venezuelan portal interviewed diver Iru Balic, who recently achieved second place in the Adriatic Freediving competition in Krk, Croatia, and where she also broke the Venezuelan national record for free diving, better known as apnea. For Balic it was a special moment since she, in addition to being accompanied by her little daughter and her mother, was also able to compete in the seas of Croatia, the country where her grandfather was born last century.

“It is the first time that I participate in an event endorsed by AIDA and CMAS. Previously the deepest records were made in AIDA, but today things have changed and there are events like these where brands are validated in both. In 2007 at the CMAS Games in Bari Italy, we were disqualified leaving us out of the competition for having participated in a National AIDA Event. I am very happy that these types of penalties have been left in the past”, said Balic.

The freediver went to Croatia, accompanied by her almost-two-year-old daughter and her mother, to represent the Venezuelan tricolor, after being out of competition since 2016.

“Croatia surprised me a lot. My paternal grandfather was Croatian and he was always telling stories about the benefits of his land. He never returned to his country, after escaping to Venezuela with his father and his brother during World War II. I would have liked my grandfather to be alive to tell him that his land seemed precious to me. Not to mention that I finally went to a place where my last name is pronounced well and I can put the accent on the “C” accordingly”.

The freediver said that the visibility in the sea was incredible and that the temperature did change a lot in relation to Venezuela. In the Caribbean, the water is at approximately 28 degrees, and in Croatia at 20 degrees of surface and 15 from 30 meters of depth. These conditions made her body less relaxed than in the warm sea of ​​Venezuela.

“From these climatic conditions I came out with much more strength because training and competing in those conditions makes you stronger”, added Iru Balic.

Apnea is a sport where the air is retained spontaneously and depending on the modality, meters are lowered to the bottom of the sea with different types of fins or even without them. For Iru Balic, “the most special thing has been to be first in the world ranking from May to September 2013, with less than 73 meters under the sea, in the constant weight mode. So far it is my personal and national record”.

The mother and athlete told about the experience of traveling and competing with her almost-two-year-old daughter and mother: “it was super special, my mother had always been very nervous about going to a competition, and in fact, they waited for me on the shore, but having her here close and taking care of my daughter, Lara, gave me peace. Without a doubt, a great luxury”.

Competing now is a bigger challenge, says the athlete. “I like to win. If I said no, I would be lying. But I feel that something inside has changed a lot in me. I decided to enjoy the journey and I feel that I celebrated each descent and each meter much more daily than the final result, with the second position and the national record. Which surprised even me”.

On training for the competition and the World Cup in Cyprus

“My previous training, to get here, was a month in Venezuela, at least 3 times a week going down in Chichiriviche de La Costa, in La Guaira. I even organized a week to stay often and I took my grandmother, my mother, my aunt, my sister, and Lara, it was great”.

”I was very supported because Williams Álvarez, a partner of Chichi, put aside the party that involves living in a town on the coast and was a great support, his perseverance, affection, and dedication to accompany me in training made the difference. With him, we practiced many rescue techniques, with his support boat together with Rafael Mayora, also a local from Chichiriviche. Every day they woke up early and waited for me with their best smiles, expecting absolutely nothing in return”.

The Venezuelan freediver is now in Limassol, Cyprus where the Freediving World Cup will take place on September 20. An event that only takes place once a year and will also be on an individual basis. Among more than 120 athletes, for this world, Iru feels even more secure and strong because she has a clear strategy so that her participation is satisfactory. In this competition, she will also have the support of her mother and her daughter who are on the same island of Cyprus.

For both sporting events, Iru Balic only has the support of the Greek fins “Alchemy Hellas”, her sponsorships from 2013 of hers remained in the past and now it is she, together with her family who pays for all trips and competitions. You can follow her to find out about her participation in the World Cup through her Instagram at @IruBalic.

For more about the Croatian Diaspora, visit our dedicated page here.


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