12 Apr USA Freediving Interviews Robert King
Robert King held all of the US Freediving depth records for several years and represented the US at multiple World championships. USA Freediving caught up with him in North Miami after a day of casual training for a first in a series of interviews for USA Freediving.
Emulating French talk show host Bernard Pivot’s pattern of questions, Claire Beatrix Paris has assembled an equally lighthearted list of questions for Freedivers. This is Claire’s first interview for USA Freediving:
CP: Where were you born?
RK: Detroit, Michigan
CP: When did you start Freediving?
RK: I started Freediving in 2001 when I was traveling in the Mediterranean, in Greece
CP: What is your favorite discipline and least favorite discipline?
RK: Favorite discipline is basically what I have been training most recently, one of the depth disciplines: constant weight, free immersion, or no-fins. And any of the pool disciplines would fall in the least favorite category.
CP: What is your dream or favorite Freediving location?
RK: Favorite Freediving location is Dean’s Blue Hole, hands down. Second choice would be the Blue Hole in Dahab, that’s a close second–geopolitical issues aside.
CP: What is your favorite training drill?
RK: That’s secret. But for general in water training FRC’s are great.
CP: What’s your favorite stretch or yoga pose?
RK: I do Iyengar and Bikram, but I don’t think I have a favorite pose.
CP: No favorite stretch?
RK: Well, I do diaphragm stretches for Freediving.
CP: What are your go-to Mantras or thoughts during breath-hold?
RK: As little as possible. If I am thinking then it’s not going as well as it could. I try not to think of anything specific at all. I focus just on the breathing and what I’m doing in that second so there is no thought process.
CP: Are you vegetarian, carnivore, omnivore?
RK: Left to my own devices I am mainly vegan with the occasional egg or fish, but since I married a Venezuelan woman, I now eat pretty much anything under the sun.
CP: What is your favorite dish the day before competition?
RK: Basically brown rice, black beans, and sautéed vegetables.
CP: What is your favorite cuss word after a Red Card?
RK:Probably not applicable. Putting aside Red Cards for intentional airway dip after early turns, I’ve only had two. One I completed my surface protocol when I realized I had my goggles on so I got a good laugh out of that, and the other one I blacked out in current during no-fins. I probably had nothing to say at all about that one, so really nothing.
CP: What is your favorite competition?
RK: Vertical Blue is my favorite competition.
CP: You went to the World Championships, right?
RK: Five times as athlete, four times as judge.
CP: What was it like?
RK: Each time is different. Every place is different. The one I remember specifically was the 2008 Team World Championship in Sharm El Sheikh because it was ungodly hot for the duration. They are big events. They are great places to see friends and meet new people and they are a lot of fun, good diving and great social events.
CP: You are a US National Record Holder – how many times?
CP: Wow. Can you comment on what was going through your head during these, or does it change?
RK: They are all different. During the dive itself hopefully there is nothing going on in my head. If there is something going on in my head something has gone wrong. It’s just focusing on what you’re doing. Conditions can be different, if it’s cold that adds a whole overlay. If it’s at the World Championships it’s different because you have one day one dive and that adds a level of stress that you don’t have in a multi-day event. There’s a level of stress with every one of them. None of them seem easy at the time. They always seem easy afterwards.
CP: When you get the record what goes through your head?
RK: It’s a lot of satisfaction for a lot of work. You know, you’ve worked for months. It’s a lot of satisfaction for completing a project you started months before.
CP: Ok. What are your plans for 2018-2019?
RK: If Johnny Sunnex holds the Dominica event this fall we are going to try and go. To be determined. And, if not, we may look at CMAS World Championships in Turkey, or wait until next year and try Vertical Blue next summer.
CP: Which Freediver do you admire the most?
RK: The two that I always looked up to the most were Natalia Molchanova and Herbert Nitsch. They had multiple records in every discipline, World Records, and always seemed capable of doing things that nobody else could do.
CP: Natalia…you’re going to make me cry…um….what is your favorite marine creature? And that is the last question.
RK: This is based on what I’ve seen most recently. We were up diving with the manatees two weeks ago, and manatees are wonderful. I would say as of today manatees. Tomorrow may be something different. You’re probably thinking hammerheads today because you just saw some, but we had a great time with the manatees. It’s snorkeling, not diving, because you are right at the surface, but they are really friendly. They are like golden retrievers under water.
CP: Thank you very much, Rob. This was my first Freediver interview, with Robert King. Thank you.