AIDA Freediving Depth Competition rules Part 2

The Red card & The protest

If you did not read part 1 yet, I invite you to do it now. It is Here

Freediving Depth competition Rules explain by VD Freediving

The Red card

The red card means bad news. You are disqualified and will not get any points for your performance.

During a depth competition, there are 14 ways to be disqualified, divided into seven categories.









That is straightforward.  Do not black out.


You cannot be touched from the start of your performance until the jury gives you your card. A non-supportive touch is allowed, though. What is a non-supportive touch? An accidental one, unintentional.


You should start your dive during the 30s following your OT. If you pass this window, you get a red card marked DQ LATE START.

4. DQ SP

You get a red card if you make a mistake during your Surface protocol. To be sure you understand the SP, I am going to explain it again:

  1. Step 1: Start Removing your nose clip. This step starts the surface protocol. From there, you need to complete it by doing the two following steps and the two following steps only. No other action is allowed.
  2. Step 2: Look at the judge and make an OK sign with your finger. Use the top of your thumb and connect it with the top of another finger.
  3. Step 3: Keep looking at the judge and say: “I AM OK”

These three steps should be executed in 15s following your surfacing. 15.01s, and you will get a DQSP.

When you surface, do your recovery breathing, then start your SP (Step 1) and move on to step 2 and Step 3.

You cannot submerge your airways until the judge gives you your card, which will take 30s

Advice: Keep doing your recovery breathing even after your SP is done. 

EX 1: You surface – say “I AM OK” – Do the OK SIGN – Then remove your nose clip ( The SP STARTS) – Look at the judge – Do an OK sign – Say “I AM OK” ( End of the SP : 12 seconds) – Say Again “I AM OK – And wait for the card keeping your airways out of the water. You got a WHITE CARD. 

EX 2: You surface – say “I AM OK” – Do the OK SIGN – Then remove your nose clip ( The SP STARTS) – Look at the judge – Do an OK sign – Drop your hand in the water – Repeat The OK Sign – Say “I AM OK” ( End of the SP) – And wait for the card keeping your airways out of the water. That is a DQSP. You add 1 extra step, you drop your hand in the water.

Your coach must understand the Surface protocol perfectly. He will be the one helping you to protest the judge’s decision. Your coach can remind you what to do when your surface. Follow what he/she is saying, and everything will be OK. 

Advice 1 for the coach: Position yourself next to the judge. Do not be shy. Speak loudly for your athlete to hear you. (BREATHE!!! – BREATHE!!! – BREATHE!!! – NOSECLIP!!! – LOOK AT THE JUDGE!!! – OK SIGN!!! – SAY “I AM OK”!!!- KEEP BREATHING!!! KEEP BREATHING!!!).

Advice 2 for the coach: It is always good to have a GoPro and to film everything in case of a protest.

The “OK sign” – The illustration is taken from the AIDA Judge course manual


From the moment you surface until the jury has given you the card, your mouth, and nose cannot dip below the surface. It is evident when you are on the line waiting for the judge’s decision, but imagine this situation: The current is strong, and you surface far from the buoy. The lanyard is pulling on your wrist. You want to reach the buoy, so you swim freestyle face down for two strokes. That is considered DQ AIRWAYS. If you surface too far from the buoy to be able to grab it, do not dip your airways while swimming back to it.

The “DQ AIRWAYS” – The illustration is taken from the AIDA Judge course manual.


We are not discussing FIM here but CWTb, CWT, and CNF. You cannot pull on the line outside of the candy cane zone. You will see a little flag at the very end of the candy cane zone. Pass this flag, and any pull will result in a Disqualification.

The “DQ PULL” – The illustration is taken from the AIDA Judge course manual.


Inside this DQ OTHER category, We have 8 Reasons to be disqualified.

1. Wearing an illegal device

You cannot wear any device monitoring your heart rate, oxygen level, or internal state level during your performance.

2. Illegal floatation device

The organizer should provide floating support for your warm-up phase on dry. 

In the water, you can use a noodle before your dive ( ask the judge during the pre-comp meeting) but do not use any floating device after you have surfaced until you get your card.

3. Coach diving during your performance

Your coach cannot dive while you are diving. A lot of athletes get disqualified because of that. The Coach stays at the surface and wait.

4. Event disturbance

Just keep the right attitude, be respectful, and always stay friendly. If you feel you have been treated unfairl, stay cool and file a protest.

5. Monofin style during CWTb dive

No dolphin kick during a CWTb dive. Especially at the end of your dive when your legs are burning. Resist the dolphin kick temptation.

6. Weight under the wetsuit

Wear your weights above your weight suit. The judge will check.

7. Removal of weight during a FIM, CWTb, CWT, or CNF dive

You have to bring back up the weight you dived down with. That is the reason it is called Constant weight.

8. Recommencing descent

You cannot turn back to re-descend once you start to ascend. The judges will see on the sonar if you do that. Likewise, you cannot stop for 5 seconds or more and keep going down. This rule avoids divers who fail to equalize head first to turn, equalize head up, and go down again.

The Protest 

There are two kinds of protests:

1. You think the decision concerning your dive is wrong

2. You think the decision concerning a competitor’s dive is wrong

You have 15 minutes after the posting of the unofficial result to file a protest, and it will cost you 1620 NTD. If the jury decides you are correct, you will get back your money.

The jury will watch the videos, then the judge who made the decision will explain his/her choice. After that, you will be invited to defend your case. You can choose one person to help you. In the end, the jury deliberated. If there is doubt, the decision will favor the athlete. It is called the benefit of the doubt.

As I told you before, Judges are human and can make mistakes. So if you think their decision is wrong, feel free to protest and make things right.

AIDA Official protest form

Yellow and Red card in a nutshell

The Yellow and Red card for depth disciplines- The illustration is taken from the AIDA Judge course manual.


As an athlete or a coach, you should consider diving deeper into this beautiful world of the Freediving Competition Rules. The AIDA Judge course is a must-do and will show you Freediving from a different angle, giving you all the tools you need to achieve your Dream of becoming a Freediving Champion.

Remember to write down your questions and ask for the answers during the pre-comp meeting.

I wish you all the best and more for your Competition. Dive deep, stay safe, and enjoy.

Go Get Your WHITE CARD!!!!