On April 21, 2010 Eric Fattah set a new Canadian record in the Constant Weight discipline, with a depth of 90m, during the Vertical Blue invitational competition in Dean’s Blue Hole, in the Bahamas.
Eric enjoying a victory conch salad on the shores of the Blue Hole
In his own words:
I got in the water around 10 minutes before my start time, just in time to watch Rob King ascend from an 87m American constant weight record. I did a quick drop to 7m on an FRC breath and was surprised how buoyant I was. I then went to the official line and put on the official gauge and connected my lanyard. I was still feeling confident, although I still was not looking forward to the dive. I was all set up with 5’30” left before my start time. I breathed and relaxed as Arthur called out the countdown…
But then, with just one minute thirty seconds to go, I realized I had forgotten to put my neckweight on ! The neckweight also has my dive light. My first thought was ‘things were going so well today… why this?’ My next thought was ‘I guess I should abort, and tell them I will not dive.’ Certainly there was no way I could go and get the neckweight at this point. I then realized that I had done 76.6m in practice with no neckweight, and the dive was easy but unpleasant, since I had to work much harder to get down. I realized that I could do 90m without the neckweight. I knew I would have to kick to 30m instead of just 20m, so I did. I also knew that if I could make it down without the neckweight, the ascent would be light and easy. While sinking, I compensated for the lack of weight by extending and stretching my legs, which I normally do not do — this streamlines me more, and I later found out that the extra streamlining made my speed similar to a descent with the neckweight.
Eventually the 70m alarm went off, and I waited for the 84m alarm. It too went off, and I waited a few seconds and looked up expecting to see the plate right there — no ! The plate was still far away. I sank in confusion as I saw the whole bottom plate setup in detail for the first time. I grabbed the line and reached around the bottom plate blindly, trying to find a tag. I touched and touched, nothing, then finally I found one. I started up and stuck the tag to the velcro gizmo around my right thigh. I extended my arms and started kicking.
I was happy that I got the tag ! I felt very confident now, I had a lightweight ascent and my lungs still felt good. As I approached 30 strokes I heard the 50m alarm, which was awesome. I heard the 25m alarm and then saw the safety diver soon after. I was already congratulating myself on the new Canadian record, before even reaching the surface. I looked up, grabbed the line, and did three hook breaths. I took off my goggles, nose clip, made the OK sign, said I’m OK, and then I peeled off the tag from my thigh and raised it, and many people cheered.
My old personal best was 92.01m… it was very close to my old PB. All in all I couldn’t have hoped for more; the dive was very enjoyable (relatively speaking), and I had lots of air left, for 105m or more. Obviously it was still stressful to the mind and body, and no words can ever describe what dives over 80m feel like — the experience is so otherworldy, dreamlike, transcendent, and exhausting, that the only way you can really understand the experience is to experience it yourself.