It was a great week for Cayman Freediving as island resident Kurt Randolph triumphed in the Deja Blue international competition, and Caymanian diver Richard Collett set six new national records to finish in third place.
The Deja Blue competition, for underwater athletes from all over the world, ran in parallel with the first Cayman Open National Championships, which attracted 11 local competitors and was also won by Randolph. The competitions ran from May 14-21.
In both events, divers compete across multiple disciplines, ranging from swimming lengths of a pool underwater to diving to extreme depths on a single breath.
Randolph, originally from Ohio, hit a staggering 77 meters (252 feet) in the Constant Weight freediving category, where divers fin-kick to depth.
He won the overall award by less than a point over China’s Jessea Lu, who won the female competition.
Second in the men’s event was Brandon Hendrickson, who broke a continental record for the Americas, holding his breath for 8 minutes and 35 seconds, during one event.
Collett, participating in his first competition, finished third in the international event, breaking multiple national records in the process. He set new marks for the Cayman Islands in each depth and pool freediving discipline and then broke two of his own records later in the week, hitting 54 meters (177 feet) in two of the depth disciplines.
Collett said he had been training diligently for eight months with the aim of breaking the records.
“Attaining this goal and being able to go on and break two of these records again in the same competition in 8 out of 10 dives is more than I could have hoped for,” he said.
“I’m also very proud to have secured podium places in both Deja Blue and the CONC competitions against a field of some very capable and experienced local and international freedivers.”
Jeremy Walton, a former Cayman national record holder and the president of the Cayman Freediving Association, sat out this year’s competition as the organizer of the Cayman Open.
He said both the local and international events were a huge success.
“It really was spectacularly successful. In terms of the local competition, we had 11 competitors. All of them broke personal bests in one event or another, and some of them broke national records for their home countries. The winner of the international competition was a Cayman Islands resident, and then Richard, of course, set a full slate of new national records.”
He said the Cayman Open would return next year with the focus on attracting more Caymanian participants and more women.
Walton also qualified with the International Association for the Development of Apnea as a certified judge, which he said would help the Cayman Islands host more events.
Deja Blue is held annually in the Cayman Islands and is organized by Performance Freediving International, a leading pioneer of freediving and the longest-running Freedive Certification agency in North America.