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Sandra Boerlage – To the European Championship, but not without a fight

Underwater photographer Sandra Boerlage represents the Netherlands at the European Underwater Photography Championship in Madeira. Her preparation is not without a struggle.

Without a fight

The year started with a finger out of the socket, the necessary therapy to get it moving again and now reasonably recovered from this, Bart, my buddy, manages to break his foot!

Participating in the European Championships underwater photography is an experience in itself and I will take this experience with full courage. A good preparation is of course my participation in the Dutch Underwater Photography Championship, which I signed up for at the last minute. With some stress due to lack of time and a hand that has not yet fully recovered, I managed to finish this well.

We thought we could start preparing for the European Championship calmly, with the idea that this would go smoothly. So not, we found out during the first online meeting with the rest of the Dutch participants. Convert our certifications to a CMAS certification. What date are we going to fly? What are the costs that we have to contribute ourselves? Who arranges the tickets? So it turns out it’s not all that simple.

To reduce my own costs for Bart and myself, I decided with the help of Mieke to set up a CrowdFunding and with what result? I feel so appreciated, thanks to all the donations we were able to pay the costs of our tickets anyway. Super happy!

The next question: Do we dive in a dry suit or wet suit, do we still need to practice? Bart and I are quite attuned to each other, so that would be a good thing. We decide to go for a wetsuit. Bart borrows a suit from a buddy and I am looking for a suitable 7 mm suit. freediving Rendondo is the best.

Not so easy with my purely Dutch female figure. Trying on the suits was already a fitness training in itself, some suits I had to hoist myself with brute force, so not ideal. Search a little further! Fortunately, Scuba Academy offers a solution with an almost perfectly fitting suit. Great, one more thing to check off my list.

Then suddenly that phone call from Bart…. Uhhh, I have an annoying announcement… I broke my foot and can’t go!!! Nooooo and now what? Really bummed!!! Immediately contacted the NOB and they came up with 3 options: 1. Find another buddy in the Netherlands, 2. Only go to Portugal and get someone assigned there, 3. Withdraw from the match.

I choose option 1, although it is not easy to find someone in a short time who wants to come along and who can also get some time off, etc. After asking a number of people, my courage started to sink in my shoes.


And now? A message on Facebook? A call via Duikeninbeeld?

At work I told about my situation and within no time there was suddenly a solution. My colleague knew someone, explained the situation and I actually had an enthusiastic buddy for the European Championship. Within a few days I received confirmation from Rian (my new buddy) that everything is arranged at work and at home, so we take on the challenge together. Great, so arrange new tickets and I’m back on schedule. On to the great challenge.