Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Şahİka’s under ice freediving record seems unbreakable

free diving with monofinImage via Wikipedia

Turkish freediver Şahika Encümen’s record seems to be unbreakable as even internationally renowned athletes’ attempts were fruitless when they could not get close to toppling the 26-year-old.

World-famous record-holding divers about a month ago attempted to break her record 110-meter swim under ice in Austria’s Lake Weissensee, the largest natural ice rink in Europe, Encümen told the Anatolia news agency. She outperformed the men’s 108-meter record and women’s 70-meter record in horizontal diving.

“Sweden’s Annelie Pompe, who holds several records in women’s diving, and Switzerland’s Peter Colat, who is known to be one of the world’s best divers, attempted to beat my under ice freediving record, but they failed. I was proud that these two athletes, who are among the world’s best freedivers, could not outperform me,” she said.

After breaking the men’s 108-meter record, the diver hopes to reach greater depths. “Naturally, many athletes will continue trying to beat my record. I want to maintain this sweet competition. Many authorities think my record is hard to break, which makes me happy. From now on, I will focus on other record attempts,” she said.

The Mares freediver aspires to break a world record in vertical diving, swimming as deep as possible. “I will start working soon for a world record attempt in the fixed weight category. In that record attempt, there will be no elevator or rope support, so I can say a very hard one awaits me. My goal is 70 meters, but the world record belongs to US diver Tanya Streeter with 67 meters, which means I will have the new record once I dive 68 meters. After my recent record, people expect more from me, but I don’t feel any pressure. I won’t let those who believe in me down.”

Also an athlete on the Turkish national diving team, Ercümen has asked Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to sponsor her just like he does Yasemin Dalkılıç, Turkey’s freediving world champion.

“Of course I expect the same support from our prime minister. Everybody knows about his interest in this sport. Many companies have sponsored my record attempts so far. I couldn’t have managed to break most of them without sponsor support,” she explained.

Ercümen, who graduated from Başkent University’s department of nutrition and dietetics, says she cannot work in that field due to her heavy training program. “In an attempt to make Turkey’s name heard more in the world, I train a lot and can’t spare time for a job. We have started talks with the companies who want to sponsor my record attempts in vertical diving. I hope I will get the support we expect from both our prime minister and the companies.”

Speaking about Turkey’s place on the world diving map, Ercümen said: “We are leaping forward in the world in sports. We are gaining very important achievements in all branches. I do my best to maintain the same trend of success in diving. I believe that as Turkish athletes, we will be mentioned with world records in this branch.”

Turkey’s diving champion Şahika

Born Jan. 16, 1985 in Çanakkale, Ercümen is a dietitian, freediver and freediving coach by profession. According to her official web site, she has won more than 100 medals in national and international swimming and underwater competitions since 1998.

In 2003, she became the Turkish champion in pallet swimming in the 800-meter and 400-meter categories and in the underwater navigation competition. Her freediving team also won the championship for three consecutive years, starting in 2003. Her underwater hockey team won a domestic title in 2006, the same year she broke a freediving record in Turkey.

The following year she improved her Turkish record in freediving and also won the domestic championship with her freediving and underwater hockey teams. In 2008, her underwater hockey team placed third in a European competition and she won the Turkish championship with her freediving team.

She became the Turkish champion individually in freediving in 2009, while improving her domestic record in freediving again. This year, she broke the world record under ice with her 110-meter swim in Austria.

Thanks to Today's Zaman

Kathy Dowsett
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