Dean’s Blue Hole – Bahamas

This is what Dean's Blue Hole was supposed to look like...

... and the hard reality

A hidden diving spot in the North Atlantic Ocean

Dean’s Blue Hole, Long Island, Bahamas- March 19 – April 6, 2008

The deepest blue hole in the world (203 meters) was the site of great dives during the Vertical Blue 2008 competition which gathered a few of the best freedivers in the world from April 1 to 11. With its beach access, the blue hole gives a whole new dimension to watching freedivers do their thing. All you need to do is sport a mask and snorkel and watch them dive. This sure beats sea-sickness from a bobbing boat in the middle of the blue water.

Diving conditions were not what William Winram had in mind both during the training days and the first few days of the competition. Rainstorms and high winds were prevailing. All sorts of floating rubbish not only impaired visibility in the blue hole but also miserably collected on the beach. Quite the eyesore compared to the picture-perfect idea one might expect from the top right photo.

It was however a good place to start his training for this upcoming season. After so many months of pool training followed recently by long hours of freediving for shark preservation, William realized he was far more buoyant than usual. In fact, it seemed that his lung volume had increased since the 2007 World Championships.

Indeed, a crucial aspect of deep diving is figuring out the delicate balance between how much effort a freediver has to put out to overcome buoyancy (greatly increased by the wetsuit) and the neutral point (where the body is neither buoyant nor sinking). A heavier set of weights may help to dive deep more easily, but swimming back up with it (as required in the disciplines of constant weight with and without fins) may prove difficult. Some athletes prefer to work harder off the surface and tend to wear less or no weight. Others like to feel neutral shallower.

Below the neutral point is what is called “free fall”. During that part of the dive, the freediver does not have to exert any energy to dive deeper as his/her total weight has completely overcome buoyancy. The trick here is to “enjoy the ride” and relax into it until the bottom plate. Not all freedivers like that part of the dive and some prefer to exert some effort below the neutral point.

Unfortunately for William, his time in the Bahamas was over too soon as it was time for him to leave for more adventures ahead (see News about South Africa). But, for sure, he will be back.