This past weekend, I finally got to go to The Blue Wild dive expo. After 3 years of everybody telling me about it and not being around to get to go to it, the stars finally aligned and I was able to check it out. Unfortunately, it meant missing out on 5-10mph winds and less than 1' seas inside the reef, but there were other reasons I couldn't get out this weekend, so I figured I would take advantage to check it out and possibly win something from the raffle to boot (I won't keep you in suspense, I didn't)!
I happen to know a few dive shop owners/operators in the area so it was nice to hang out and have nothing to do but chit chat about last weekend's weather, the mutton I caught a couple of weeks ago and the latest gear (more specifically, how much more money I need to spend in their stores) with my friends from Austin's Dive Center and Nautilus Spearfishing. In addition to the expo that lets you check out the latest products from manufacturers like Spetton, Omer, Riffe, DiveR and just about any other one you can think of, there are a lot of local resellers and manufacturers of other items that are there as well. Anything from custom outdoor furniture to paintings to custom powerheads is available if you just look around.For me though, the coolest part by far was getting to meet and speak with people that I typically only get to read about and see on television. I got to meet Mike Hickey, Jay Riffe and Daryl Wong (pictured right) to name a few and I got to see people like Art Pinder (The King of Sling), Del Wren, Mark Labocetta, Pipin Ferreras, Dan McMahon and Sheri Daye too. The greatest part of meeting all these people was how excited they all are to talk to you (or me for that matter) about the great sports of freediving and spearfishing. Everybody wants to know what you think. They're genuinely interested in what you think works and what doesn't and why (or why not). It's an atmosphere of camaraderie that is hard to describe. I wasn't a big organized sport athlete growing up, so I don't know if all sports are like this, but I can't imagine they all are. It would be like having a conversation with Dan Marino and having him ask you why you think the jump pass won't work in the NFL. These are the people at the top of their game and they are all completely willing to give you not only the time of day, but their valuable time to discuss ideas and opinions.
I attended one of the clinics because I really thought the content would be interesting to me. The clinic by Bill Kyser on "Fitness for Diving" seemed a very timely subject since peak diving season really just started for me and I figured it's never too late to get into better shape. What I really liked about this clinic was that it wasn't "Bodybuilding for Diving". It was about sensible endurance and flexibility methods and excercises that anyone can do to get them in generally better shape which of course equates to better performance in anything you do. Bill is particularly emphatic about not over-training. A 2-time ironman triathlon finisher, this is not a guy who is short on fitness or endurance, but he is the first to tell you that over training is not a plan for longevity in anything. The stresses on your body are too extreme to be able to take for extended periods (referring to years, not days). I found his information insightful and encouraging and would recommend to anyone looking to get into better general shape sensibly to look him up on the web.
I hope to get a chance to return to the expo next year and take advantage of many more of the clinics when I do. Of course, I wouldn't mind continuing to chat with Jay Riffe about how much I enjoy his guns or with Mike Hickey about how great his new spearshafts are, but who knows... I highly recommend anyone that enjoys diving (of any kind) and spearfishing to check out The Blue Wild at least one of the days available when it comes back around next year. Who knows, you might get lucky and win one of the great raffles that they hold at the end of each day (even if I didn't)! And don't forget, the proceeds go to Sheri Daye's favorite charity, the Boca Raton Society for the Disabled so on top of everything else you're helping out a great cause.