William Trubridge: The Sea Inspires Me
William Trubridge is a 15-time world record holder and current freediving world champion, as well as Suunto Vertical Blue champion and 2010 and 2011 World Absolute Freediver.s an Apnea Academy instructor, he operates the freediving school Vertcal Blue at Dean's Blue Hole in Long Island, Bahamas. Along with teaching others to freedive, William also runs the international freediving competition, Suunto Vertical Blue, "the Wimbledon of Freediving" (NY Times), held annually at the same place in Bahamas.
William's entire life has been strongly connected with the sea. He cares about the ecology, being an ambassador for the Ocean Recovery Alliance and participating in a number of projects aimed at managing plastic pollution. He dedicates his record breaking dives to Hectors and Maui's dolphins, world's smallest dolphins which live only in New Zealand and which are quite close to extinction. And by sharing his experience and knowledge with others, by pushing boundaries of his own and of his fellow freedivers, William definitely contributes a lot to bringing out the best in people.
Dear William, please accept our congratulations with perfect results at Suunto Vertical Blue 2014! What do you feel after your victory and what is your overall impression of this event?
This year's event went very well. There was a great feeling amongst the crew and competitors, and I think a lot of advancements in terms of safety were made, with many different protocols being put into effect.
I was happy to win the event, especially since I wasn't doing so well for points up until the last two days. I got lucky when Alexey ran into trouble with his CNF dives, and I managed to do two deep dives in FIM and CWT on the last couple of days to finish first overall.
Your freedive duel with Alexey Molchanov started several years ago. How would you describe your relations and attitude towards each other?
I enjoy diving with Alexey and competing against him. He is a serious athlete who trains hard, and has definitely inherited some very aquatic genes! Between us we've held all the depth records for several years now, and it's turning into an interesting rivalry that seems to provide a lot of incentive for us both!
William, what competitions and records do you plan for the next 2015 year? Will you try again to reach 102 m?
I am definitely planning on trying again to increase the CNF record. It has stayed at 101 since 2010, so I think it is due for an update! But I would also like to be competitive in all the disciplines at the AIDA World Champs in Cyprus in September, so I'll be training with the fin and in FIM as well. My main events will be Suunto Vertical Blue in April, the Caribbean Cup in May and the WC in September.
It was relatively easy for the first freedivers to set their records, and now the deeper the sportsmen dive or the longer they hold their breath, it gets more difficult to overcome their achievements. In what way things were different for you at this 102 dive comparing to your previous record dive to 101 m? And what do you think about the further development of freediving disciplines?
When I set the 100m record and followed it with 101m, those were very hard dives, after months of intense training, and 7 years of specialising in CNF. It's understandable that it's going to be hard for me to keep on moving it out, and I think we're seeing a gradual slow-down in the advance of world records. I don't doubt that the records will increase, but gone are the days when we will see jumps of several meters depth at a time, or new freedivers breaking depth world records after just a couple of years in the sport. There are so many different elements that require adaptation, not least of all adaptation to pressure, which if it is rushed results in injuries and setbacks.
Who or what inspires you most of all? Is it your records, your friends or rivals, or the victory over your inner adversary?
The sea inspires me. Without getting too poetic, there's the ocean we immerse in, and the ocean of our own potential, as aquatic beings. I enjoy discovering them both.
Can you share a secret: do you have any sort of a good luck ritual before the important dive or competitions? The one that helps you to win?
I'm wary of rituals, which essentially equate to superstition, and are a double-edged sword. After dives I do like to take a moment, after I've removed all my equipment, to slide back underwater, open my bare eyes, and absorb the sensation of immersion while I thank or acknowledge the sea.
What is the easiest discipline for you and what takes the most of your efforts?
FIM is easiest, as the technique is very straightforward. I don't really see it as a pure freediving discipline though, as you are using something terrestrial (the rope) that is anchored to the surface you are trying to escape from. CNF is the most natural for me. CWT is more unnatural, as I'm not as accustomed to the dolphin-kick movement.
William, with whom of your fellow freedivers you feel yourself the most comfortable and at the same time who is the most inspiring to compete with?
I'm lucky to have so many freediving friends, and I think as a whole freedivers almost always get on well with each other.
I like to dive with fellow kiwis like Johnny Sunnex, Dave Mullins and Chris Marshall, and because many of my first years freediving were in Italy I have a lot of great freediving companions there like Jimmy Montanti, Marco Cosentino, Antonio Cavallo and of course my first teacher, Umberto Pelizzari.
What do you think about freediving for kids? From what age it is better to start training and what are the most important features of children freediving?
Training is one thing, and probably shouldn't happen until later, when there is maturity. But I think that kids can start enjoying being underwater on a breath hold from any age, and an instructor's role in this is to make it fun, safe and educational, without focusing on performance.
Can you name 4-5 other places on earth which you would compare to the Dean's Blue Hole in terms of good conditions for freediving trainings?
Roatan Honduras has great conditions, and incredible sea and reef, and the island is a lot of fun as well. This is probably the only other place I've found where I could train continuously with good conditions. The Red Sea has great conditions, but my diet/health suffers a lot when I am there.
Would you like to go freediving to Russia? If so, what would be the place for that?
For a long time I've dreamed of freediving in Lake Baikal!
Freediving as a professional kind of sport gets popular very fast. Which countries would you call as those having the most profound teaching techniques and, correspondingly, the most well trained freedivers?
There are many. New Zealand, I'm proud to say, is one of those, but most are in Europe. Denmark, Croatia, Russia, Czech Republic, England, Italy, Austria, Germany…I'm missing many here. Outside Europe many of the S. American countries have growing freediving populations, and of course in Japan it is a very famous sport.
William, have you ever thought about the point, at which you will decide to stop your professional career? What could be the reason for that and what would you do afterwards? Would it be dealing with ecology issues, underwater photography or filming (besides teaching other people how to freedive, of course)?
I don't give it too much thought, as I'm enjoying training and freediving so much now. I would like to move more into ecological work though, and over the last few years I've gradually taken on more of this.
Lots of funny stories or other amazing things must have happened to you during your dives. Can you share with us such a story? Maybe about the creatures you met underwater, or your impressions of the depth or some other situations?
Yesterday I returned from a liveaboard trip with some scientists to find a grouper spawning aggregation (SPAG) that we'd heard rumours about. They meet in their thousands the night of the full moon, to release eggs and sperm in huge clouds. Amazingly we managed to find the SPAG, in the middle of the ocean, on a remote seamount.It was at 30m, and I freedove down amongst thousands of groupers, huge sharks and countless other fish to witness one of the most amazing spectacles I've seen underwater. We now know that this is the biggest SPAG currently in the Caribbean, and maybe the world, and I guess I was probably the first person to freedive on it, as very few people know where it is, and the locals who go there are terrified of the sharks.I should have some video footage to post soon on my Facebook page.
Dear William, thank you so much for your time and for this interview. Dive.Info wishes you good luck in 2015, lots of inspiring challenges and new victories!
Photos by William Trubridge, Pascal Berger, Dolphin Expeditions, Igor Liberti, Fred Buyle, Vladimir Surkov
William Trubridge official page - www.williamtrubridge.com
Suunto Vertical Blue 2014 competitions - www.2014.verticalblue.net
Freediving school Vertical Blue - www.verticalblue.net