Deborah Andollo Bold and Confident
By Lemay Padron Oliveros, Photos: Courtesy of Deborah Andollo
Deborah tosses a few coins into the depths of the ocean calling for the protection of Yemaya, the Afro-Cuban goddess of the sea. She asks for permission to enter her domain and to return victorious. She takes some mouthfuls of air and with the last and deepest one she starts her dive towards a new world record. That was the competition routine of this athlete who first started swimming at the age of four and synchronized swimming at 11. Maybe she was destined for the Big Blue since her birth at the Havana naval hospital, overlooking the waters of the Caribbean Sea.
She spent 12 years in synchronized swimming until the summer of 1991 at which time she started to practice this highly specialized form of diving, a sport that had fascinated her since she first became an athlete. She started training at depth in February 1992 taking advantage of her 6 litre pulmonary capacity and, as early as. May of that year, she registered her first world record. Since then there have been 15 apnea records with her favorites being her numerous free diving marks. Nowadays, Deborah is the President of the Cuban Federation of Underwater Activities (FCAS) and has been since its creation in February 2006 and is a member of the American Area for the World Underwater Federation (CMAS).
"There are many things we wish to do but we lack the support. Almost everything has been done thanks to the efforts of athletes and trainers. We have the knowledge and the qualified personnel but we are talking about a very expensive sport. During the time I was competing we had much more support," said Andollo.
Regarding the current state of diving in her country, she said: "Right now Cuba is doing pretty well. We have two girls with strong performances who were champions in the Pan American competition and we intend for them to participate in the world competition."
During her time as a competitor she got to know many beautiful places in the Cuban sea and, according to her, she still likes to visit such places as Cayo Esquivel, Villa Clara, and Banco de Jagua, in Cienfuegos. She considers herself very fortunate for having been in such impressive places like Cayo Largo del Sur and Jardines de la Reina: "I have had wonderful experiences there with the beauty of the ecosystem and the people working there."
As for the rest of the world, she dreams about the waters off the Egyptian resort of Sharm El Shaik and in other great places in the Red Sea. Despite her many wonderful experiences in exotic locales, she has a very important message for all those who would like to start in this sport: "It is very dangerous to dive alone; it is an irresponsible way of doing it since one can find a lot of danger out in the sea and the best way to start diving is first taking care of yourself. Fatal accidents have occurred in this sport because athletes take chances without the proper safety measures. 1 am sure that having taken the proper measures nobody would have died."
Another important aspect of her present life is her ecological work that starts at home: "I eat fish, but my sensibility prevents me from fishing. 1 suffer when seeing underwater fishing. 1 have seven dogs at home and 1 already have problems with them since 1 don't have all the time to take care of them. My life has always been surrounded by animals and plants."
CubaPLUS Does Deborah consider herself a bold person? Deborah -I do consider myself a bold person, in life and sport. It all started at an early age. 1 think that the attraction 1 felt towards the sea was always stronger than the fear. 1 remember two times 1 almost drowned and people got me, exhausted, out of the water. 1 used to follow my father into the open sea and 1 would either sink or hurt my feet with sea urchins but 1 would keep trying.
And confident? -One is constantly facing challenges and if I weren't bold and, at the same time, confident, I would not have attained many of the goals that I have reached as an athlete and leading the FCAS. Failure is definitely not in my vocabulary. Full Name: Deborah Andollo López Date of Birth: May 9, 1967 Pulmonary capacity: 6 liters Static Apnea: 06:04 min, For more information: www.deborahandollo.com
World Records: 50 m, Free Diving, May 1992, Varadero 60 m, Constant Weight, Nov 1992, Isla de la Juventud 52 m, Free Diving, May 1993, Varadero 61 m, Constant Weight June 1993, Cayo Largo 80 m, Variable Weight, Feb 1994, Isla de la Juventud 60 m, Free Diving, May 1994, Isla de la Juventud 85 m, Variable Weight, Nov 1995, Isla de la Juventud 110m, No Limits, May 1996, Isla de la Juventud 62 m, Constant Weight, Oct 1996, Sardinia, Italy 90 m, Variable Weight, July 1997, Sardinia, Italy 65 m, Constant Weight, Dec 1997, Isla de la Juventud 95 m, Variable Weight, July 2000, Parghelia, Italy 115 m, No Limits, July 2000, Parghelia, Italy 74 m, Free Diving, July 2001, Isla de la Juventud 110m, Free Diving, July 2002, Giglio Island, Italy
Information on Apnea Deep: apnea is the voluntary ability to hold one's breath diving to reach the lowest depth in the water, It is divided into four categories:
Constant Weight: The free-diver descends and ascends using his or her fins/monofin and with the use of their arms without pulling on the rope or changing ballast; only a single hold of the rope to stop the descent and start the ascent is allowed.
Free Diving: The free-diver dives under water without the use of propulsion equipment, but only by pulling on the rope during descent and ascent.
Variable Weight: The free-diver descends with the help of a ballast weight and ascends using his or her strength : arms and legs, either by pulling or not pulling on the rope.
No Limit: The free-diver descends with the help of a ballast weight and ascends via a method of their choice, No limit is the absolute depth discipline, Going down with a sled and going back up with a balloon, a diving suit or a vest with inflatable compartments or whatever other means.