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MED CUP 2013: EPISODE 7

2013|06|10

THE COLLECTIVE ANNOUNCEMENT

A successful deep diving performance, either during training or a championship, depends greatly on a compulsory element, the key to success :  the announced performance.

This step is unique to free diving, and does not appear in other sports, except for high jump and pole vault. When our performance is announced, we reveal ourselves, expose ourselves completely, open ourselves to comments, criticism, judgement. The announced performance, before even being revealed to the world, represents a commitment we make to ourselves and inevitably to everyone else, which we then have a duty to honour. Its psychological impact is immense and the way in which we deal with it on an emotional level very often determines the performance's success or failure.

If we take the example of pole vaulting, passing the unavoidable 6m bar directly raises the athlete above all others and makes him a living legend. So many jumpers have passed the 5.90 - 5.95 level with 20 cm to spare, but then fail time and time again when faced with the daunting 6m bar.

An announced performance must be achieved to be awarded the maximum number of points. In a competition, if I give up 2m away from the targeted depth, penalty points will be taken from my final score. If a French or World record announcement is made, the record will only be approved if and only if the announced performance is achieved and if the tag is brought back up to the surface. An athlete who announces -128m and stops 1m from the bottom will indeed have dived to -127m but will not however break the world record.

During practice, we encourage a desire for success and have as a first objective to achieve the announced performance in style. Each announcement made for a practice dive is therefore considered just as serious and requires just as much caution as for a competition.

For us Frenchies, one of our long-standing traditions has been to share our goals with our friends and family. In obvious cases, we all have the same instinct and fully support the athlete's wishes without much hesitation.

However, for some cases, like this one, the task becomes somewhat more complicated. The decision is then made collectively.

The first people I turn to are my friends at the club who are also athletes and know me well.

An hour-long discussion ensued over breakfast with Rmy Dubern, with whom I already share an apartment here, but more importantly with whom I shared 95% of my training in Nice (biking, weights, swimming, etc.), and Alice Modolo, member of the French national team since 2009, with whom I shared 3 world championships and who also knows me extremely well.

They are always available at the club, have all the information they need about me, see me train every day and are aware of any slight change in mood or motivation.

After that first discussion, the choices I had already seemed clearer.

During my first practice sessions, I also spoke a great deal with Nicolas Girardin, member of the French national team for the last world championships and a constantly improving athlete.

Next we have the precious involvement of my two favourite advisors.

Morgan Bourc'His, European record holder in constant weight without fins (-88m), member of the French national team since 2006, with whom I shared 7 world championships and the last Vertical Blue in 2012 (my -123m score), who is also and most importantly a good and reliable friend. He is probably the free diver who knows me the best. We talk almost daily throughout the year about our training, and are prepared to give the other as much advice and support as possible.

Christophe Lyonnard has been my personal trainer and advisor for 2 years now. He is part of my safety team and has been a good friend for the last 10 years. He was already part of my world when I broke my first world record in 2002, reaching -87m. He embodies the voice and lifestyle of the famous Claude Chapuis (Claude is my mentor, the one who taught me everything I know and whose way I life I strive to perpetuate).

Cyril Paulet, the French national coach since 2006, knows how I think and behave, and knows how to act around me. Even without discussing it with him beforehand, he sent me a message with a practically perfect analysis for this announcement. Thanks Galou !   ! 

I can't of course forget my partner, Julie, who has been part of my life for the last 8 years and who gives me a more general and outside view. I openly confide in her, with no restraint. Her views are often perceptive and accurate.

Then we have you, my journal readers, who provide me with unfailing support every day and whose views have often been so true. From the bottom of my heart, thank you ! 

A depth of -118m was therefore my final choice. It ended up being the right choice, as the dive went well. Still not as perfectly as I had been hoping for for the last 2 weeks, but in a relaxed state that has been flourishing as the days go by.

I am now ready for tomorrow's competition. I just about had time to process yesterday's challenge before starting to think about the next one. I will be handing in my performance announcement this evening. I will be going through the same decision-making process today.

Stay tuned, you'll be the first to know once I've made my decision ! 

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