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MED CUP 2013: EPISODE 1

2013|05|28

On Friday 24 May, the entire Néry family flew out to Mirtos, a small village in southern Crete, for 2 weeks of preparation followed by the 5th Med Cup. My objective had been clearly announced :  endeavour to break the world record in constant weight, held by Alexey Molchanov and set at -126m. With that objective in mind, I had a lot of planning to do. Before the real dive, I already did a few preparatory dives to adjust and adapt to the depth. 70m, 80m, 90m, 100m, 105m and 108m. Of course, before that, I had 5 months of intense training :  cross-country skiing, biking, weight-lifting and dynamic apnea in the swimming pool. After my day off on Saturday, the plan was to start on Sunday with an adjustment and warm-up dive in the new conditions at -100m, then to carry on the next day with what I had been training to do in Nice, i.e. a -110m dive. However, outdoor activities depend on many uncontrollable factors and plans are rarely kept to. On Sunday, there was a technical problem with the boat and we had bad weather conditions on the Monday. My first dive was therefore on Tuesday morning, after 3 days of patiently waiting. What depth should I aim for ?  I had 2 possibilities :  I could stick with the wise choice and stay loyal to the initial plan of 100m, followed by 110m the next day. The problem was that the weather forecast for the next day was inclement, so there was a risk of further delay. The bolder choice consisted in skipping the 100m dive, as 3 days rest are more than enough and as on the Sunday I had been able to go down a few times to 45m to slowly adjust. I chose the bolder option, knowing very well that it was a purely sports-related decision and did not put me at any sort of personal risk.

The weather conditions were perfect :  smooth waters, deep blue sea, 30 metres of visibility, 22 degrees. On a physical level, I felt well-rested. All the conditions seemed ideal. But I still made quite a few technical errors on my way down and lacked concentration, which led me to turn back up before reaching the bottom, at -109m instead of the announced -110m. I came back up without any problems, in good shape, but quite frustrated and lucid regarding the reasons for this false step. In free diving, I consider that performance is optimised if the following 3 factors are ideally combined :  the environment, the body and the mind.

-The environment encompasses the team, the safety measures set up, the location, the energy, how I feel in a certain place and the weather conditions.

-The body refers to the amount of physical preparation, adjustment to depth, the ease with which one's breath is held, relaxation levels and technique.

-The mind refers to the level of desire and concentration.

These 3 factors are all co-dependent.

Today, I failed in terms of mental preparation, which directly affected my relaxation and overall technique. The desire was undoubtedly there, but my concentration levels were too low. During the first 3 days on site, in this new environment, with my family, waiting around for that first dive, I lost my focus. That's exactly why I always plan a feasible depth (100 metres) for my first dive in a new location, regardless of the circumstances, so that I can find my bearings and get my momentum going. I was in a rush, pressured by my schedule, and skipped that fundamental point, thinking I could catch up the lost time. Bad idea. -110m is for the time being my best 2013 performance, so no mistakes allowed, as opposed to when I dive to -100m. This small mistake once again highlighted one of the cornerstones of my progression, that I must never put to the side :  PATIENCE. Depth requires profound patience. We should never allow ourselves to be influenced by external factors when making our decisions. No need to worry though, as a lot of good things also arose from this dive, including the positive indicators concerning my physical shape. The only price I will need to pay is a second 110m attempt, which I will hopefully succeed in style.

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