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AIDA World
Maribor 2007

4th - 7th of July 2007

Bill Stromberg
Jacques Mayol
Sebastien Nigel


AIDA (International Association for the Development of Apnea ) is the Worldwide Federation for breath-hold diving, established in 1992 which manages and oversees the recognition of records, organizes competitions, and sets the standards for freedive education. Since 1993, AIDA International has officiated 165 Official World Records.

Brief History

It all started with Jacques Mayol, Enzo Maïorca and a couple of others. Then came "The Big Blue". In the years 1985/1990, with still very few freedivers around the world, new performances and records were achieved. They were passionate about the sport… and were called the "lights of the Big Blue".

A few years later, history would demonstrate that without them, modern freediving would have never come to be. This is how it all began, this is the history of the birth of AIDA… the International Association for Development of Apnea.

In the early 90’s Roland Specker thought he had more than enough time to create rules for records, when in fact, many records were already being established, but the rules weren’t all necessarily identical. Roland travelled and met Umberto Pelizzari, some German freedivers and many others attempting freediving records and decided that it was important that an association be created that would recognize the records.

On November 2, 1992, Roland Specker and a few friends created the International Association for the Development of Apnea with their head office in St. Louis, France, near Mulhouse. Roland was President, Thierry Meunier was Secretary and Claude Chapuis was the Technical Director. Two texts were drawn up: the rules and recommendations for the recognition of records. Several records were recognized very quickly by AIDA, which became the reference for freediving. The first AIDA journal was created in 1995 and at General Assemblies, many freedivers, such as Umberto Pelizzari, Loïc Leferme, Olivier Heuleu, and Frédéric Buyle were recognized.

Claude Chapuis also organized mini competitions between the freedivers attending the clinics held in Nice and the thought of organizing a World Championship quickly grew in his spirit seeing as how these competitions was fairly easy to organize. So the first AIDA World Championship was held in Nice in October 1996. There were 25 participants each in teams of 5 from Germany, Belgium, Columbia, Spain, France, Italy and a team representing the United Nations consisting of freedivers from different countries. Modern competition freediving was born on that day and things could only get better. On departure day, Claude Chapuis shook Umberto Pelizzari’s hand and said, "you won, now it’s up to you to organize the second World Championship".

1997 was a year of transition and several freedivers created groups in their own countries. AIDA continued to certify records and 12 countries were in contact thanks to AIDA. Each country was required to create an AIDA association. Thanks to Thierry Meunier, the AIDA website was created and Laurent Trougnou quickly became the AIDA Webmaster and Sébastien Nagel was now responsible for records. AIDA promoted the development of freediving over the Internet, which gave all freedivers the ability to stay in contact.

Umberto Pelizzari never forget his promise to Claude Chapuis, and organized the Second AIDA World Championship in Sardinia in 1998. 28 countries attended and Jacques Mayol’s presence created an emotional atmosphere. France and Italy were neck and neck…it was just like a scene out of the Big Blue and the Mayol/Maïorca era, but it was Italy who reigned in front of France. AIDA France was created, which enabled AIDA to handle international problems.

In 1999 a very important change occurred. ”AIDA” was dissolved so that AIDA International could emerge. On September 21, 1999, a Swiss, Sébastien Nagel, became the President of AIDA International, an Executive Board was created, and the assembly of delegates allowed each affiliated country to express themselves via a vote procedure over the Internet. As of this date, and thanks to Sébastien Nagel, the media definitively recognized AIDA International. The new Swiss President was surrounded by freedivers from various countries on the Executive Board with Frédéric Buyle (Belgium), Dieter Baumann (Austria), Karoline Meyer Dal Toé (Brazil), Claude Chapuis (France), and Kirk Krack (Canada).

With the support of Club Med, Olivier Herrera, a young Spaniard, organized the Third AIDA World Championship in 2001 in Ibiza. The countries selected their best teams and the Italian men, under Umberto Pelizzari came first, France second, and Sweden third. For the women, in order, the Canadians with Mandy-Rae Cruickshank, the Americans with Tanya Streeter and the Italians with Silvia Da Bone. Herbert Nitsch attained 86m in Constant Ballast, which was a new world record. Since 1999 and the Red Sea Dive Off, Static Apnea and Constant Ballast records had been defeated in competition. Freedivers had become sports activists and trained to go beyond human limits.

In 2002, USA AIDA Representative Glennon Gingo, organized a major international competition in Hawaii and world record holders were finally regularly participating in competitions. Martin Stepanek (Czech Republic), Carlos Coste (Venezuela), Pierre Frolla (Monaco), Guillaume Nery and Stéphane Mifsud (France), Stig Severinsen (Denmark), Mandy-Rae Cruickshank (Canada) and Annabel Briseno (USA) and many others. AIDA had finally succeeded at uniting some of the best competitors in the world.

The next AIDA World Championship took place in Vancouver, Canada in 2004. Germany was the one to glitter this time as they went home with the golden cup. Second and third came France and Sweden. In the women competition Canada was the best followed by USA and Italy.

More and more individual pool competitions were being organized by local clubs and in 2005 the first Individual World Championship was organized in Lausiane, Swiss. The competition disciplines where statics, dynamic with fins and dynamic without fins. The competition was incredible with athletes surpassing 200 m dynamic disciplines and 8 minutes in statics and 3 new world records set up by Natalia Molchanova (Russia). It was only a week later that the second individual World Championship was organized in Nice covering the Constant Weight discipline.

In 2005 also Sébastien Nagel stepped back from being the president of AIDA International and a young new freediver, Bill Stromberg took his place.

In 2006 individual competition all over the world are being organized almost on a weekly basis with the community growing and growing. In December the fifth team World Championship will be held in Egypt and only half a year after we invite you to the third AIDA individual World Championships in Maribor.

Please look up www.aida-international for more information.