The Road to the World Championship
Things tend to happen unexpectedly.
And from there move very quickly.
We weren't even sure there would be championships. The pools had been closed and I hadn't trained in months. Then suddenly the state championship was on and it was a month away, and I miraculously put up 4 maximum dives in 2 days.
What most don't understand is that there is more strategy to it then just seeing how far you can go. Freediving is a lot like the high jump in the sense that you have to announce what you will do and then perform. Well what happens if you have no idea what you can do right now because you haven't been training?? No idea what to announce. I ended up announcing way too high, which put a lot of stress on myself. Visualization is POWERFUL tool but this year there seemed to be more mental turbulence and it was hard to feel confident that I could pull off those high announcements. I visualized myself being successful and was determined to accept nothing less. Somehow when it counted, I could still find that zen state you need in order to feel your heart slow down, the world go quiet, and time slow way down.
While you are underwater it's only you, your heartbeat and your thoughts.
With 4 painful (no training!) yet great dives at the state championship, I qualified for nationals AS CAPTAIN. I would go to compete, but my place on the team had been solidified by my ability to lead.
Leading the team ended up being a small role and my focus was on my performance. Again, the mental torment of knowing that I don't feel trained for this. The team needed a solid score from me in my event in order to possibly win the team title. However, individually, I saw my teammate go first and put up a time of 5:08 - great time. The fire was lit. I was in an unfamiliar pool, working with a new coach which is nerve-racking (when you are underwater and hear a voice you don't recognize it can throw off your game) , but red came over my eyes in a very tranquil way. The confidence was there that I could beat her as long as I could relax.
An account of what went through my head after my face hit the water:
National Championship Dive Diary - in article from Escanaba Daily Press
Silver Medal at the 2021 Spanish National Championship with a time of 5:23, tying my current US Record. I had never placed so highly on the Spanish podium, and felt greatly honored to be named Captain as a foreigner.
THE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
When you want something bad enough, you have to do it yourself. Blaze the trail.
I had the marks to qualify for the World Championship with the Spanish team, but at the end of the day I am not a Spanish citizen (just a green card holder) so I cannot compete for Spain.
Ironically, it was the utter disappointment of a friend of mine who did not make the Spanish team that spurred me to thinking about going through an alternative route.
The United States did not hand-select me and say "we want you to go, here is everything you need, just train". Rather, I put together a whole presentation per say:
- Here are my qualifying scores that would be recognized in other countries for the world level.
- Here is a proposed budget.
- Here is the paperwork, all filled out, all you need to do is sign.
The budget was rejected, but there was willingness for me to participate.
Next thing you know, and the important part, I was signed up as the first American to every participate in a CMAS Indoor Freediving World Championship! THIS IS JUST ONE MONTH AFTER THE STATE CHAMPIONSHIP AND THERE IS ONE MONTH BEFORE I FLY OUT.
News about first American to participate
You are going to have to move fast girl, to get training AND handle all the fundraising and administrative!
The first thing I did was to bring the big guns on board. I was going to need an expert to at least point me in the right direction with a training regiment, and so I talked to Aleix Segura, a 3-time World Champion and Guinness Record Holder who happens to be a friend of mine.
My first Spanish National Championship, La Coruna, Spain 2017 with Aleix Segura, 3x World Champion and Guinness Record Holder.
I am a specialist in Static Apnea, which is the time event. I had very clear that I would only focus on this, my star event. In all honesty, staying underwater for 5 minutes is very stressful for me. Before the World Championship training I NEVER did a full simulation in practice because it was so mentally taxing to take myself through that.
Before, I only put out 100 percent effort in the competitions, meaning I was doing 5-minute+ dives only one to three times PER YEAR.
The first week of World Championship training I did my first full simulation in training in my whole freediving career. Then we did another. Then we did another. I was doing 5-minute dives now 1-2 times PER WEEK.
There was 4 weeks before I would fly out and I was serious about putting up the best performance of my career on this World stage.
Crank up the gears, here we go.
When you make the decision to go, you have to be all in.