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Freediving: Three National Records in two weeks–Singapore tops SEA rankings

Singapore–Jonathan Chong, 35, Elys Lai, 44 and Fu Xingqiang, 38, broke Singapore national records in freediving while competing at the Ultimate Freediving Challenge (UFC) series, held on the 20th and 27thAugust. In the process, they have firmly established Singapore as leaders among SEA freedivers.

Jonathan Chong with coach Yeehui Lim following his National Record in Static Apnea with a time of 7 minute 38 seconds

Pool freediving competitions challenge divers to swim the furthest distance on a single breath in the dynamic apnea disciplines, or hold their breath while submerged in water for the longest period of time in the static apnea divisions. 

Competition and records are overseen by the sport’s foremost body, the International Association for the Development of Apnea (AIDA). Judges from AIDA were present for the UFC competition which ran over two consecutive weekends.

The first Singapore record fell to Chong in the static apnea (STA) discipline, completing his dive with a time of 7 minutes and 38 seconds. This not only places him first in Singapore, but also ranks him first among all SEA countries for STA.

In the Dynamic No Fins discipline (DNF), where a diver must cover as much distance underwater as possible without the aid of additional equipment such as fins, Elys Lai swam 128m, beating her own record of 125m.

Elys Lai prepares for her dive in the No Fins (DNF) category

Lai now sits first among SEA countries for all AIDA pool disciplines, with Singaporeans Patricia Paige Ong, 32 and Lim Yee Hui, 28 rounding out the top three and establishing Singapore as a force to be reckoned with in the region.

Lai, who became the first Singaporean to attend the AIDA Freediving World Championships in Bulgaria in June, placed fourth overall during the World Championship event which was attended by 132 competitors from 29 participating countries.

Fu Xingqiang, who is also the creator of the Ultimate Freediving Challenge events, completed the trifecta of national records during the UFC competition with a dynamic apnea swim using a monofin. His distance of 227m sets him a class apart from other competitors in this discipline and puts him first in the overall SEA rankings for AIDA male pool freediving in 2022.

Fu Xinqiang extended his own record with a monofin (DYN) dive of 227m
Lai celebrates her National Record swim with a distance of 128m

Fu, who also owns the FDXQ dive school, told the Apnea Association of Singapore (AAS) that he believes Singaporean freedivers are set to reach top international levels within the next few years if provided with the support required and with accessibility to local competitions. This was his motivation to set up the Ultimate Freediving Series of events. He said that he hoped the series would eventually be independent from his school and sustained by the community.

THE UFC event, which was open to international athletes, attracted other notable performances that included Dmitri Melnikov, 35, of Estonia, who achieved a national record with a 247m dive in the DYN discipline. This puts him 3rd in the world rankings for 2022. 

Female competitor, Tracy Roxanne Migrino, also broke the national record for the Philippines in the Dynamic Bifins category with a dive distance of 145m.

 Dmitri Melnikov of Estonia with a dive of 247m, a national record for Estonia and a distance that places him 3rdoverall in the AIDA World Rankings for pool diving
Tracy Migrino from the Philippines participated and took the Philippines National Record with a distance of 145m

AAS congratulates Chong, Fu and Lai for their national records and celebrates the current competition environment in Singapore. We believe the growth of our sport in a safe and enjoyable manner is one of our primary missions, and look forward to supporting our freedivers as they compete for continental and world medals in future.

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