Dariusz Wilamowski

Darek is the two-time national record holder in diving (Poland 2009 - 245 m, 2010 - 264 m) and diving is his life's passion. For this year he prepared the project Garda 2012 to beat the official world record (currently 318 m) in deep diving. Read more about Darek here: http://garda2012.com/?page_id=179

Garda 2012 - 335 m - about the project

"This July in Lake Garda (Italy) Darek Wilamowski is about to beat the world record, taking the deepest dive in Europe ever done. He will thereby become the first Pole who ever crossed the barrier of 300 meters depth and fifth such a person in the world history." Read more about project here: http://garda2012.com/?page_id=176

FINNSUB.COM has developed and built the special wing FLY EXTREME for this project to support Darek on his attempt. FLY EXTREME is 2-bladder, 60 l each, wing with 2 inflators which is made of Cordura 2000 in horseshoe shape. This model was developed exactly on Darek's requirements.

The result - 20 September 2012 - Summary

This entry's a bit on the long side. I dedicate it to all those who complain that I don't write enough or I impose some sort of information embargo. I don't write you see. I dive.

For THE dive thirty tanks were needed for deposits only. Together with the nine tanks I'd have on me and a couple of others waiting on the shore "just in case" I needed more tanks and regulators than a mid-sized diving centre keeps for its OWD students. I've been diving with Sherwood for two years and they've done well on a couple of trips below 200 meters. Some of the regulators were provided by Scubapro company and some by my unfailing friends. "Only" ten stages with regulators were missing, which in the end was contributed by Alex from Vertigo.

After preparations and a couple of hour drive we arrived in Garda. August is a traditional holiday month in Italy and finding space in the campsite is a miracle, especially if you need more than one plot. There were no spaces available around the diving site so we had to go to a campsite located 45 km away.

The first days were spent on setting up the direction line. We brought with us both the line and the dinghy as well as the line weights that were made for me by Sławek Dobrowolski. Piotr and I swam within a couple of hundred meters around the entry to the diving site. We threw the line every couple of meters and searched for the right depth. After two days of trial and error we managed to fix the line. It seemed the hardest part was done. On Saturday Adam and Foka joined us straight from Ireland. They brought a van full of equipment and tanks. Just like us, they brought the gas-mixes with them.

On Sunday I made a trial dive down to 150 meters and Piotr, Adam and Foka made corrections to the line tension. Also on Sunday we tried to align the deposit line and that's when the trouble started. Despite a couple of attempts the deposit line didn't want to go along the direction line. Within the first 100 m the weight caught on the rock shelves. I needed to make three dives above the initial plan – once to 110m and twice to 130m to adjust it. It seemed that after that the line was fixed all right. Unfortunately, considering all the time spent on fixing the line I already knew I wouldn't be able to perform the main dive within three weeks, after which time my support team was leaving. On top of that we were also troubled by a strong wind that was making all the preparations even more difficult. The waves pushed by the blast of winds hindered even getting into the water. To carry the twinset down the steep rocks was difficult at the best of times and mounting more that 4 stages required help. On the rough lake mounting stages was impossible as the diver tossed about by the waves was in danger of hitting against the rocks and slipping from the hands of the support team mounting the stages.
As the initially fixed date of the dive approached, my team was assembling. On the 10th of August Ania arrived and then, mid-month, Robert Antonowski with Rafał. Also the Czech part of our team joined us – Zdenek Mazec and Zuza Banasova. Within three days we fastened all the deposits except oxygen. Robert found time for a little 150 m dive, too :}. Zuza broke  Czech women's diving record, she dived 151 meters. Piotr, Kasia and Foka went back to Nova Gorica and fetched the rest of the gas mixes.
On 22nd of August the team dispersed and I stayed with Ania, Zdenek and Zuza. I was ready for the main dive. We set up THE date for the 24th and watched the weather anxiously.
The day before the dive was almost windless. The heat, until now about 30ºC, increased. We were resting in the campsite under a poplar tree and waiting for the morning to come. We were going to set off early, after breakfast. Yet during the night the wind came and at 3 a.m. we already knew it wasn’t favourable. The campsite is located on the lake’s wide shore while the diving site in the narrow part. The wind restricted by the surrounding mountains gain speed there and raises bigger waves than in the open part of the lake. The diving spot are surfers Mecca but for the divers even light wind means that going into the water is more difficult if not impossible altogether. Attempting to dive to such depth I needed a really calm day. Only with a completely smooth surface we could mount six stages – 20 litres each – without risking to crash against the rocks.
The wind was blowing for two days. The following night, hoping it would calm down in the morning, we slept in the cars parked on the shore, just by the entrance to the diving site. At 4 a.m. we were woken up by a storm. The wind had no intention of stopping. Another attempt failed. I decided to wait till the afternoon, as about midday the wind usually calmed down. On Wednesday afternoon the weather improved but the heat wave returned too. At 40ºC in the shade – the shade not to be found in the diving site anyway – I wasn’t able to put on layer by layer of thermoactives, the undersuit and the dry suit. When I was at the last layer of thermos I felt already that I was getting a heat-stroke. I got undressed just in time.
We planned the dive for Thursday early in the morning and again we were going to spend the night by the diving site. On the day everything went smoothly, the weather was great – the sun still hiding behind the mountains, no wind, no waves – and the equipment worked fine. I submerged to 50 meters without a problem. At 60 meters I felt cold inside one glove. During the first gas change, twisting off the valve I must have damaged it. Water was clearly spreading over my hand. I decided to go back. I started to slow down at 70 meters so, the load considered, I managed to stop below 80.

I had to make up my mind. Piotr, Bogusia, Zdenek and Zuza had to leave and Ania was going back too. We agreed with Zenek and Zuza that they’d be back on the 4thSeptember. I couldn’t leave all the tanks under the water, so my decision was to stay and do some deeper dives and to practise submerging along the direction line. I was waiting for return of my Czech support for 10 days. I did a few air dives and 3 times I went down to 150m. I regularly checked the deposits. The August was gone by then and so were the tourists. The campsites offered a choice of spaces and I moved to the one that was 5 km from the diving site. Zdenek and Zuza returned earlier than promised and brought with them Petr Graca. With their support I practiced afresh diving to 150 meters with the equipment I was going to take below 300 m.

Lake Garda in September is even more harassed by wind and storms than in August. It caused breaks in diving routine. I did the last trial dive on the 5th September. The final attempt was to take place on the 7th. The weather – again! – thwarted our plan. In the morning of Saturday the 8th we were in the submersion place at 8 a.m. Unfortunately the wind was blowing and the waves raised high so we decided to wait till noon. The improvement didn’t come. Windsurfing forecast predicted light wind for Sunday. We put off the attempt till the next morning, but on Sunday in the morning weather was still unfriendly. On that day we’re ready at the submersion spot at 6 a.m. Large waves make it impossible to dive but the wind seems to be calming down. We go back to the campsite but I checked on waves every 20-30 minutes. At 12.30 the wind dies down at last and there’re only ripples on the lake surface. We set off. I start dressing about one o’clock in the full sun. Zdenek parks the car so that it gives me maximum shade. Umbrellas help too. Everybody fans the air around me with towels :}. I works! I didn’t get overheated. Putting on the equipment and mounting the stages goes calmly and smoothly. I begin submersion around 2 p.m.  I have 22 minutes for going down, after this time I have to start back up. If everything goes according to the plan I will finish the dive in the morning – in more than a dozen hours.  The first gas change takes place at 50 m. I switch to travel gas used to the depth 200m and swim along the direction line, not further than 4 meters. At 170m the main light goes off – it turns out later that I abraded the torch cable with the twinset while putting the gear on. That doesn’t bother me though. I’d assumed that I’d be using mainly the light fixed in the harness. I move closer the line to see it better in the dimmer harness light. At 200m it’s time for another gas change. I continue going down. After a while I feel something graze against my legs and see a white loop of the line next to me and then underneath.  White loops are squeezed between the stages to the left. My descending slows down and stops altogether after some time.  There’s a knotted deposit line behind me. The same to the left. I try to disentangle but the line catches all the sticking out elements and there’s so much of it.  In front of me I see a deposit line weight and the line coiled round it.  I check the manometer on the stage, it reads 80 atm. In a moment I have to switch to the twin supply. Galileo reads the 18th minute of submersion and 243 meters. I try to reduce the depth by pumping up the wing’s, it’s good to have ample buoyancy reserves :}, Finnsub did a good job. The gas runs out in the stage. I switch to the twin and start to emerge still disentangling the stages. The first effects are already visible  – I see a couple of coils drift away. I throw the weight over the line and that also goes down.  At 220m I switch to the first decompression stage. I stop for a minute. There are a couple of coils left between stages. I’m heading up. I stop at 190m. The bloody line is still twisted around stages but I can emerge now.  Some minutes past and I get rid of the last coils.

At 153m I switch to the next deco gas and only then I start thinking of adjusting the run-time. I’d done some similar dives so I remembered approximate times and depths of decompression stops. I switched to the first deposit stage at 114m. That was when I felt tingling in my left hand, a clear sign of decompression problems. Planning the dive I have taken these sort of troubles have into account. Pulling the line and struggling with entangled stages at 240 m doesn’t go without consequences. I adjusted decompression as I went. After about 2 hr 30 min I reach 66 m. Zdenek came to me with a battery pack for heating. I didn’t want to take it with me because I was using Lola heating equipment which doesn’t provide canister batteries for such depths.  About one hour later Zuza came to bring hot water and to take some of the stages. On the way up I’d collected 4 deepest deposits and together with the six ones I had from the beginning I’d had ten on me. At 24m Greca arrived with more water and chocolate bars. Between 18th and 15th meter Zdenek relieved me of all the remaining stages. After that I received some more water&chocolate visits :}, from all of them. Chocolate bars were soft and easy to swallow but the caramel hardened fast and it took some chewing, without taking a breath!  I wonder whether freedivers take chewing gum :} After 10 hours and 12 minutes I finished the dive.

A whole year of planning and implementing the project was an invaluable and very instructive experience. It also confirmed my thoughts on good luck: is it about diving, diving preparation, or diving support and about all those people who didn’t take part directly in the dive but without whom the whole thing couldn’t have happened :}. I would like to thank all of you :}