The Skandalopetra FreeDiving Event will be held in Bonaire, Northern Caribbean May 2-9. Many Greeks may not have heard of the word “skandalopetra” before, but freedivers all over the world seem to know its meaning, participating in events with great pleasure.
Kalymnos is a Greek island famous for its sponge-divers from the ancient times until today. They were the historical ancestors of modern divers. They didn’t have appopriate equipment, such as flippers, masks or oxygen bottles. As a result, they had to hold their breath as long as possible in order to collect sponges.
And before them, even ancient Greeks were allured by the bottom of the sea. The latter did not collect sponges, however, but anything strange they could get out of it.
What is this “skandalopetra” thing, you ask? It is a piece of stone, usually granite or marble, which has a hole on one edge of it. The divers of Kalymnos had to come up with something clever to improve their diving skills and their profit. As a result, they tied a rope from the hole to the boat and then jumped into the sea. The weight of the stone gave them a great boost to reach the bottom or at least go deeper. As soon as they got their sponges, there was always a colleague on the boat to bring the skandalopetra and them to the surface.
Nowadays, modern free divers envy this practice, so they organize Skandalopetra contests to honor the Greeks. Teams from all over the world have already applied for the freediving event in Italy, Greece, Turkey and, as mentioned before, in the Caribbean as well.
Many other countries, including Spain, Russia and France, are excited about the event and are discussing being included in the contest’s 2013 agenda.
Nikolas Trikilis, coincidentally named after the Orthodox Saint Nikolaos who protects the sailors, has been characterized by the foreign organizers as “Father of Skandalopetra.” He marks this sport as “easy, healthy and safe,” and the winner is the person who manages to dive the deepest.
World Underwater Federation has proposed that Skandalopetra Freediving become an Olympic sport. This is a major opportunity for Greece, according to Trikilis, “since we could export history, culture and sports!”