Elijah Aasand has high hopes that he’ll be diving deeper than ever this weekend.
The Kauai man is competing in the 2019 Freediving World Championships in Roatan, Honduras, that started Tuesday. Aasand’s events — constant weight bi-fins and free immersion discipline — are this weekend.
He’s been having trouble equalizing as he descends lately, but has been diving daily since arriving in Roatan about two weeks ago trying to shake off some troubles.
“I’m not sure exactly how it will go,” Aasand said in a phone interview with TGI.
“When you dive down you have a lot of pressure in your ears,” he added. “You feel a lot of pressure, the deeper you go.”
Aasand is one of six people representing the United States at the 2019 CMAS World Championships of Freediving. There are over 30 countries with nearly 100 freedivers competing.
This is the second time in history that the U.S. made an international appearance at this competition.
Aasand has hit 82 meters in the bi-fins and 80 in free immersion. It takes about three minutes to go down and return to the surface at that distance.
That deep, scary to most, is a thrill for Aasand. On a recent dive, he came across a shark.
“It’s kind of neat, you’re all by yourself,” he said.
At the Caribbean Cup in Rotatan Aug. 1 to 5, he didn’t make any of his dives, which was disappointing, but he took that as an opportunity to warmup for the world championship.
He is confident if he can get past the 60- to 70-foot mark, he can reach 82 meters down, which would put him near the top and in line for a title.
Aasand, 24, was born and raised on Kauai. He always loved being in the water, snorkeling and working on tour boats that took guests to the Napali Coast.
He started free diving eight years ago.
“I just really enjoyed it, fell in love with it,” he said.
The best part?
“The marine life you see down there, and maybe the sensation of being in the water,” he said. “I feel very free. It’s almost like you’re flying.”
Aasand wanted to give a shoutout to the US Freediving Federation for supporting him and his teammates. The federation arranged for housing and transportation, which allows the team to focus on the reason they are there — compete for a world championship.
The sport, he said, is growing.
“I’m super thankful,” he said.