To reinforce this point watch the awesome video from Vertical Blue here which features us (the safety team), although I'm not so sure they needed to show everything we got up to! Watch and you will see what I mean....
As a safety diver if we touch a diver we automatically DQ them, so on the ascent we try to get close enough to be able to observe the diver, but without touching them until they either DQ themselves or require rescuing. When we follow them up we are mainly focused on their face, looking for signs that they are struggling or about to have a black out from the lack of oxygen.
In the case of William's dive today, he acknowledged he wasn't going to quite make it and at approximately 10m from the surface he shook his head to let us know. As I mentioned earlier William is completely dedicated to his freediving and therefore very in touch with his body, including what is happening to it and what is about to happen.
After shaking his head he reached forward to pull on the rope and DQ'ed himself. This immediately meant that we could grab William to assist him to the surface as fast as we could. Unfortunately the TV audio was not properly synced with the footage of William's dive so it sounds like we were at 20m when we grabbed him but in fact we were much closer to the surface.
Upon reaching the surface William didn't quite have enough oxygen left and momentarily blacked out. This is when our practice training and safety drills kicked in and you will see that we proceeded to keep his airways above the water, remove is goggles, and preform the "tap, talk, blow" procedure which soon brought William around.
Being low on oxygen, very likely narced and having the small black out meant William needed about 20 seconds to get his thinking straight again before we helped him onto the dive platform so that he could recover and be checked by the on-platform doctor.
William was so close and as he mentioned in his post dive interview he is not stopping there and will give it another crack in the not so distant future. When you are pushing the limits of what is capable you really do need all the stars to align, and today wasn't ideal by any means. But Will's dive was a very gutsy heroic effort that truly had the support of 1000's of Kiwi's and freedivers around the world.
William still has two days ahead of him to compete at Vertical Blue and I'm looking forward to seeing what he can achieve with the weight of the 102m attempt off his shoulders and of course being a safety for him again.
Click here to watch William's full dive