William Trubridge says freediving world championships have lost their charm

In a recent blog post, William Trubridge – world freediving champion, speaker and ocean ambassador – says the freediving world championships have lost their charm, And he has a point. In this article, we give more details about the past and current World Freediving Championships and go over some key points he mentions in his blog post.

First Freediving World Championships

CMAS (World Confederation of Underwater Activities) is the oldest organized federation of underwater water sports and has been organizing freediving competitions and ratifying records since the late 1970s. However, after a few serious accidents, CMAS stopped organizing deep-sea competitionstaking only in 1995. This gave way to AIDA (International Association for the Development of Apnea)an apnea federation, a competition organizer and an education system, at formed in 1992 and establish their own rules and guidelines for free diving competitions and record attempts.

As AIDA began to organize World Tag Team Championship contest in 1996, it was not until 2005 that the individual depth world championships began to take place. These competitions only occurred every two years and were widely anticipated by athletes and fans. To hold the title of world champion and all the glory that comes with it, both male and female athletes had to just a single diving attempt in each of the three disciplines of the World Championship: CWT (constant weight – deep dive with a monofin or bifins), FIM (Free Immersion – pull deep and ascend using a line), and CNF(Constant weight without fins – swim deep and come up without fins).

William Trubridge at the 2015 AIDA World Depth Championship.

These six freedivers (three men and three women) would be revered as world champions for two full years before the next opportunity to steal the title presented itself. The best freedivers would plan their training and participation in other competitions around the world championshipand the anticipation for these events was unprecedented. They were the only ones of their kind – that is, until 2015.

In 2015, CMAS started to organize outdoor freediving world championships – in-depth world championship competitions with four disciplines: CWT, CNF, CWTB (Constant weight with bifins – deep dive using only bifins), and jump blue (a CMAS-specific freediving discipline that involves swimming to a depth of 10m/32ft for maximum distance). However, theyou held ittheir championship event each year. This prompted AIDA to scramble and change their previously biennial championships into an annual event. And so, according to William, the dilution of the title of world champion began.

Current Freediving World Championships

Currently, the title of world champion is much more within reach of athletes than seven years ago. In recent years, AIDA and CMAS include four disciplines in their world championship events: CWT, CWTB, FIMand CNF. This means that instead of six world championship titles to be split between six men and women every two years, there are now eight men and women competing against each other. twice a year, a total of 32 potential world champion titles athletes can to win in this same period.

2022 CMAS Outdoor Freediving World Championship Day 1. Photo by ICARUS Sports.
2022 CMAS Outdoor Freediving World Championship Day 1. Photo by ICARUS Sports.

Those athletes who hold the title of world champion today may only get a fraction of the attention and glory they once did. Ffreediving competitions usually take place in summer and autumn, which means that if you are a freediving athlete like Kateryna Sadurska from Ukraine, you might win the FIM World Champion title on August 19e2022. Then, less than two months later, another athlete like Fatima Korok could also win an FIM World Champion title. Moreover, with two World Championships per year, some athletes may only be able to attend one event, which will somewhat reduce the excitement of rivalries between competitors in the same competition.


Another problem the face of the athletes is that participating in freediving competitions is not cheap. High athlete fees, airfare prices and the cost of living in far-flung places in the world make attending two world championships a year too expensive for some. For example, AIDA charged athletes EUR 600 for the 27th AIDA World Championship, and the rate for a single room at the official hotel was EUR 72 per night. (the duration of the competitioned more than nine days). It is also important to remember that often freediving athletes are not full-time athletes and have regular jobs where they have to negotiate time off.

About the costsWilliam also points out that CMAS “absorbs huge sums of money in his toilet because he has nowhere to spend the money that comes to him from national bodies.He also mentions that AIDA tries to match CMAS with expenditures; however, most of their competition funding comes from student registration fees, which is a sore point among AIDA instructors.

World record

William mentioned the fact that no world record has been set at the world championships since 2013and there is a good explanation for this. First of all, it should be noted that athletes are only allowed to dive once in a single discipline. This forces them to be especially careful when announcing their diveswhere they must face choice between a shallower successful dive or a record dive that may push one’s limits too far. It should therefore come as no surprise that athletes generally choose shallower dives to ensure they get a white card for a to clean performance rather than a yellow card for penalty or a red card for disqualification.

Vertical Blue - Mateusz Malina celebrates the FIM world record (Image credit: Daan Verhoeven)
Mateusz Malina’s joy at successfully setting a 127m (417ft) FIM World Record at Vertical Blue 2022. Photo by Daan Verhoeven.

Additionally, there are competitions that athletes can enter that give them multiple attempts in whatever discipline they choose to compete in. For example, Vertical Blue is an annual competition held at Dean’s Blue Hole in the Bahamas. and is organized by William Trubridge. The competition site presents fabulous diving conditions every year with virtually zero current and waves. But more importantly, athletes get multiple attempts to dive in their discipline of choice. This freedom and the pristine pool conditions make Vertical Blue a magnet for world record attempts. He also does Vertical Blue arguably more exciting to watch than the generally more conservative dives at the World Championships.

Also, earlier this year, the last day of Vertical Blue 2022 was August 11.e while on the first day of the 29e The AIDA World Championship was August 17e. Unfortunately, this didn’t leave much room for the athletes to travel, settle, recuperate and train for the open sea conditions of the World Championship. Unfortunately, some athletes had to choose between the two events and were only able to attend one, and the famous rivalries that die-hard freediving fans obsessed couldn’t take place on the same live stream.

Final Thoughts

According to William,Ithe number of ivestream viewers for the world championships is decreasing every year, despite Dive improvement in technology. It seems that CMAS and AIDA are put on operateing separatelily and trying Excel every year. So, wwhile athletes must scramble to raise enough funds and free up enough time for two world championships, interest from apnea fans may continue to slowly wane. Maybe the media will only have world records to report instead of legendary rivalries reminiscent of Jacques Mayol and Enzo Maiorca.

Or maybe now, as a freediver, you’ll have a better chance of becoming the next world champion… before sharing the glory with another new world champion a few months later.

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