In her custom-made, silver Oceaner suit and a red, white and blue neck weight, Ashley told her mind to relax as she lay peacefully at the competition line, preparing for a 2nd attempt to break her own CWT record of 82m meters.
Adapting to depth again, after a maternity break, was hard for the former World Champion*. While her body felt strong, stronger than ever, her mind was not in her grip. Negative thoughts harassed her, which she tolerated with excuses that she “was too tired” or “busy with” daughter Ani.
Ani attended her first Caribbean Cup back in 2013, four months before her birth. Back then, she accompanied her mother, who was a safety diver, down to 30 meters and back, several times a day. Today, this water born future diver was watching from the spectator boat, as Ashley filled her lungs with an impressive volume of Honduran air.
At the count of 15 past OT, Ashley turned from her back to duck dive into the clear blue waters of Roatan. Her husband Ren called for Ani to join him on the platform. A friend hoisted Ani over the railing of the boat so she could make her way to the competition zone, where she feels completely comfortable.
Ren Chapman kept off-site spectators, from around the globe, informed with his live Periscope commentary. His wife, having made the plate, was on her way back up. This time she reached her target depth, first obstacle out of the way. Ashley had told herself to just go for it, “just go down to the plate”, as if it were that easy.
When she broke the surface 2 minutes and 40 seconds later, she performed the mandatory surface protocol with ease, released the tag she had retrieved at 83 meters from her hood and smiled. The crowd didn’t wait for the white card to cheer, because it was already clear that she would get the record.
US National Record: CWT 83 meters/ 272 feet.
Daughter Ani swam over to greet and congratulate her mother. With her pink Aquasphere mask and tiny fins, she looked like she could dive down and retrieve the record in the under 3-years-old category.
Husband Ren’s congratulatory pat was rejected; Ashley had earned a kiss.
Once she had time to reflect on her dive, Ashley shared: “This training season has been a humbling one…and I’m grateful for that! I’ve been struggling with depth and my no fins dives have felt hard but I have used the set back to work on dropping any pride that I’m carrying around. After failing yesterday’s record attempt, and letting my pride creep in and make me sour, it felt great to let it all go and just focus on relaxing and being grateful for my dives and my beautiful family.”
* Ashley once held the World Record in Constant Weight No Fins (CNF) with a dive to 67 meters at Dean’s Blue Hole, Bahamas, 2012.