So near yet so far for freediver

By Gary Caffell

Chief judge Grant Graves said it all after Kathryn Nevatt's fifth and final failed attempt at breaking the world women's dynamic without fins record at the Genesis Recreation Pool in Masterton yesterday.

"You gave it one hell of a go ... you'll get it," Graves told Nevatt after she equalled the 160m distance set by Natalia Malchanova of Russia in 2009, only to be disqualified for breaking surface protocol, including touching the side wall of the pool while in the initial recovery process and failing to declare to say the words "I am okay".

Graves was full of praise for Nevatt's gutsiness after five swims in six days, the third of which saw her crush Malchanova's record by 4m.

Unfortunately, however, she was also disqualified then, for having "short period lapses of consciousness".

"She's absolutely top class, nobody can say any different," Graves said of the 33-year-old Martinborough architect.

"The record is hers, it's just a matter of time."

Another good-sized crowd turned out to watch yesterday's record bid, which was always going to be a huge test of the mental and physical capabilities of Nevatt, considering the exertions of the previous five days.

But despite feeling weary and a "little shaky" before trying to complete more than six and a half lengths of the Masterton pool in a single breath, she again won over the spectators with her grittiness and courage, amazingly coming to a halt right on Malchanova's mark.

"Quite honestly, it was a bit of a struggle towards the end and I knew about 2m before I came up that I was probably in a bit of trouble. It's disappointing but that's the way it goes."

Nevatt was "absolutely rapt" with the support given her over the five attempts, all of which saw her comfortably break the 150m mark. "We are not used of crowds like that, it was tremendous."

The success of what was the first freediving competition held in Masterton could lead to major national and international events being held here.

Graves said the pool was "absolutely fantastic"as a freediving facility. You've shown the locals will get behind it ... I'd be back like a shot!"

- Wairarapa Times-Age

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