Nine time cliff diving world champion Colombian Orlando Duque travelled to the West Coast of Ireland over to complete a unique project – diving from a cliff top on the Aran Islands at 26m in to the Atlantic Ocean swells of the Serpent’s Lair.
Rumours of the legendary Serpent’s Lair (Poll na Peist) on the Aran Islands circulate world wide throughout the cliff diving community. Similar to numerous other locations on the islands, the Serpents Lair is what fishermen call a “blowhole,” or a shoreline window to subterranean caverns, which spurt out water each day as high tide approaches. What differentiates the Serpent’s Lair from other blowholes, though, is that it’s a near-perfect rectangle, thus its inexplicable nature.
Ancient mythology tells us of a Sea Serpent which lived beneath the entrance .The sound of screeching stormy winds is said in myth to be the great Serpent making its presence felt.
Duque is one of only a handful of competitive cliff divers in the world; a small community in search of the next high, training relentlessly to avoid the inherent perils of their sport. “The serpents lair is one of those places that you only hear stories about”, commented Duque. “Finding the place and being able to dive there was one of the highlights of my career. Hopefully in the future we can bring a cliff diving competition to Ireland.”
Cliff diving is considered to be the acrobatic perfection of diving into water from heights ranging between 23 to 28 meters for men and 18 to 23 meters for women. The athletes have approximately three seconds to coordinate their forms and movements before they hit the surface of the water at around 100km/h. A pancake landing from such heights can be compared with a hard landing from 13m on concrete.