It was three years delayed but the 2023 Secret Blue Depth Competition was more than worth the wait for Italian diver Alessia Zecchini and Taiwanese divers Mingchun Huang and Lin Lan Lien.
Originally scheduled in April 2020 the organizers were forced to postpone when Covid-19 struck and the world was forced to take a pause.
“It became too dangerous for me to come to the Philippines,” said the amiable Zecchini, before adding, “then it became too dangerous for me to go back to Italy.”
Italy, as we all know, was one of the hardest-hit countries in the early days of the epedimic. But that, as the cliche goes, is water under the bridge.
And when they finally got to the waters of Moalboal, all three set records.
Lien set and broke her country’s record for free immersion twice, diving 63 meters on the first day and breaking it with dives of 64 and 65 meters.
On the other hand, Huang set the Asian record for constant weight with bi-fins (CWTB) at 97 meters, breaking it the next day at 98 meters in a dive that lasted three minutes and two seconds.
Zecchini, a world-famous free-diver who started her career when she was just 13, set the women’s world record for CWTB at 107 meters in a dive that lasted a lung-busting three minutes and 26 seconds. Just reading this paragraph can take your breath away.
That dive on March 29 broke the then record of Alenka Artnik, who dove 106 meters during the Kas Baska competition in November 2021.
However, Zecchini wasn’t done. Two days later she smashed her own record, diving a depth of 109 meters or 357.6 feet in three minutes and 38 seconds.
For comparison, Addam’s View hotel, one of the tallest buildings in Moalboal is only 32 meters tall according to owner Engr. Felix Palca and the Italian’s dive was more than thrice the height of the building.
“I came for this. I trained a lot for this,” said Zecchini, a first-time visitor to the Philippines.
All three also praised the organizers and the waters of Moalboal.
“It’s super perfect. The place is perfect and the people are so good,” said Zecchini. “They organized a perfect event.”
Ming, who has dived all over the world, said, “There was no current and no waves. It’s really one of the best places in the world to dive.”
Ling is also grateful for the help she got from the locals after she lost her equipment in a dive.
“Someone found it, put it in the side of their boat and returned it to me the next day,” she said. “It’s so amazing.”
Ling said she loved that the seafood was fresh off the sea, while Zecchini thanked the organizers for giving her a room with a kitchen.
“I’m Italian,” she said, smiling, “You know how we love our pasta.”
All three, who have been friends since meeting in a diving competition in 2017, are planning to return in May to dive the waters off Camotes Island.
For Filipinos who want to take free diving, which is not just a sport but a lifestyle in itself, all three recommend that they should take a certificate course.
“There are so many. It is important that they should learn the proper way,” the world record holder said.
“And, no diving alone,” added Ling.