The CMAS European Apnea Outdoor Championship begins today – October 2nd, 2017 in Kaş, Antalya, Turkey and Croatia has strong hopes for medals.
This week the CMAS (World Confederation of Underwater Activities) European Apnea Outdoor Championship begins in Turkey and Croatia has very strong hopes for medals with Goran Čolak, Lidija Lijić and potentially Vitomir Maričić.
Just in case you aren’t familiar with freediving but clicked on the article for the mesmerising photo, let me break it down for you – the term “Apnea” relates to a sport where the athlete’s face is submerged below the surface of the water and holds his breath, freediving being the most recognised sport in this category. It has been said that humans have been freediving for millennia; the first nation which was famous for it was the haenyeo in Korea, who collected shells and sponges to sell (CMAS).
Nowadays, it has been turned into a sport and was made famous by the 20th Century rivalry between free divers Jacques Mayol and Enzo Majorca which you can watch in the highly dramatized and cult movie “The Big Blue”. Whether the rivalry was ‘played up’ on-screen doesn’t matter, the fact is, both free divers set records of diving to depths below 100-m; which, before them was thought impossible.
Like anything in history, they smashed the ceiling (or the floor) of what was believed to be possible and every year the potential of human capabilities are pushed even further.
Goran Čolak is one such man and a bit of a freak of nature – I say this in the best way possible, how else to describe a man who can hold his breath for 23 minutes? Well, that is exactly what Čolak did in 2014 when he set a new Guinness World Record (23:01 min to be precise), in 2011 he set a new world record (WR) in Dynamic Apnea without fins at 273 m then in 2013 he broke his own record, setting the new WR to 281 m.
In a recent training camp in June in the Philippines, Čolak set a new National Record for freediving to depth with mono-fin (CWT), diving to an impressive 115 m. He is currently AIDA’s (the governing body of freediving which maintains records and regulates rules) most successful athlete from AIDA and CMAS World and European Championships – holding 14 gold, 7 silver and 3 bronze medals (Wikipedia). In the most recent CMAS European Championship in Cagliari, Italy, he set a new WR for the 50-m pool, static discipline, with a time of 9:58:66 minutes.
Check out Čolak’s video from his training round yesterday, 60-second free fall to 116 m…
Čolak is most certainly in good standing to for a podium finish, though he will have tough competition as this year, at least three of the five best divers in the world are present including Russia’s Alexey Molchanov – five-time World-Vice Champion and world record holder.
Let’s not forget about the women, Lidija Lijić is also a World Champion, she holds 4 World Records – including her new Guinness World Record at the beginning of the year for diving under ice, 2 gold medals (1 x World and 1 x European) and 3 x silver in World and European Championships. In 2015 and 2016, Lijić won silver in the Jump Blue Discipline and is hoping for a similar or better result. Jump Blue is an event where the athlete must cover the maximum distance around a square of 15-m at 10-m depth, this is an open water event and fins (monofin or bi-fin) are used.
Lidija Lijic with Vitomir Maricic for her Guinness World Record attempt.
Though, she tells us she is a little sick; combined with the colder than usual sea temperatures in Turkey, this will make for a demanding competition. Vitomir Maričić is newer to competitive freediving but he tells us he is also hoping for a good result, potentially even a medal.
I recently spent a day learning to free dive with Lidija and Vitomir and can say it was an extraordinary experience; while I don’t see myself taking up freediving competitively, it is something I believe many people would not only enjoy but benefit from. Get a taste of the Big Blue below…
In a message, Lijić told me that while they are all hopeful for medals they are also looking forward to enjoying the ‘Big Blue’.
Good luck to all competitors and fingers crossed for our Croatian athletes!
Source information: CMAS Organisation