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Kiwi freediver sinks to new depths

Kiwi freediver sinks to new depths


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New Zealander Kathryn McPhee yesterday (10 April 2008) became the fifth woman in the world to crack a depth of 50m, in the constant weight (no fins) category of the freediving Vertical Blue competition in the Bahamas.

McPhee, 28, took 2min 17sec to descend 50 metres and then ascend to the surface doing a breaststroke-like stroke, all on a single breath. Placing her forth equal in the world, the achievement broke the New Zealand record and was McPhee’s fifth national record-breaking dive during the 11-day competition.

The invitation-only competition, held at Dean’s Black Hole in Long Island, Bahamas, involves 14 of the world’s best freedivers.

McPhee described the dive as “really hard”, with intense contractions just 20m into the descent. Contractions are the muscular twitches felt through the throat and diaphragm when the diver feels the urge to breathe. As the dive progresses they normally become larger and more regular.



“It was one of the first dives I've had where I can remember the massive contractions I was experiencing on the ascent,” she said. “Normally I just block them from my mind and keep swimming, so they must have been huge.”

But she was elated with her success, particularly considering her lack of deep diving experience. Before this month’s competition, she’d only dived eight times without fins.

Today she went even deeper. Wearing a monofin, she broke 65m – and another record – in a total dive time of 2min, 33sec.

During the 11-day Vertical Blue competition, McPhee’s record-breaking dives included 48m constant weight without fins, in 2min 8sec; 44m constant weight without fins, in 1:57; 41m constant weight without fins, in 1:47; and a 57m free immersion dive 2:13.

The Vertical Blue news website reported that McPhee’s national records in all the disciplines had firmly established her as the New Zealand champion, and today’s dive – a goal she had set herself – showed that she possessed great promise.

“The fact that it looked easier than her recent 48m means that there's more in the tank.”

McPhee lives in Wellington, where she works as an architect.

She is sponsored by Orca.

ENDS

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