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Freedivers set for international success

08 February 2008

Wellington freedivers set for international success

International eyes will be focused on two of Wellington's top freedivers this April as they prepare to compete in an exclusive event being held at Dean's Blue Hole, Deadmans Caye, Long Island, in the Bahamas.

Kathryn McPhee (28) and Kerian Hibbs (36) have been invited to compete in a 10 day invitation-only event, alongside fellow Wellingtonian and World Record Holder David Mullins in which event organisers expect several new national and world records to be set. McPhee, currently New Zealand's top female competitive freediver, is looking to break all current New Zealand women's depth records during the event. Hibbs, who currently ranks in New Zealand's top 5 male freedivers, and is amongst the world's top 20, is expected to set a New Zealand record in one depth event and is working towards qualification for the NZ men's freediving team to compete in the World Championships later this year.

The event is organised by William Truebridge, a kiwi diver based at Dean's Blue Hole, who set a world record for constant weight without fins at 82 meters last April, and is expected to claim back this record, which was narrowly lost late last year.

For both athletes the opportunity to train alongside some of world's most elite freedivers is something that they are looking forward to. “While we have very successful freedivers in New Zealand, the international location provides exceptional diving conditions and the experience that these two athletes will gain will be invaluable”, says Joy Cottle, an internationally qualified freediving judge who will also be attending.

Freediving is diving without the assistance of breathing apperatus and has several disciplines based on time, depth or distance, which are done in the open water or swimming pool, but all completed on just a single breath of air.

The most common freediving events in New Zealand are:

Constant Weight: depth diving in the ocean or lake, with or without fins

Dynamic apnea: underwater lengths performed in the pool, with or without fins

Static apnea: a time based breath hold in the pool

As a relatively new sport to New Zealand, the success of Kiwi freedivers to date is remarkable: Six New Zealand freedivers feature in the top 20 world rankings. In 2007 national records and world records were seriously challenged by Kiwi divers, most notably, in September David Mullins broke the world record for dynamic with fins, with an amazing swim of 244m at Naenae Pool. The same event also saw Hibbs become the 10th person in world history to swim further than 200m on a single breath of air. McPhee was placed 6th in static event at the Individual World Champs held in Slovenia last July 2006

Hibbs and McPhee are members of the Wellington based Lazy Seal Freediving Club.

Sponsors are being sought to assist the athletes in getting to Deans blue hole. Interested parties can find more information at


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