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Flipper thieves could sink my diving dream; Raid threat to James's squad hope.


LIVERPOOL'S only free diver could miss out on a place in the UK squad because thieves stole his fins.

James Cluskey, 35, of Anfield, has been training hard all year to make a competition against the world's best divers in Japan in 2010.

But now his fins, which allow both feet to fit into one flipper to create a "fish tail" similar to a mermaid, have been stolen and his dream is slipping away.

The thieves broke into his car last Tuesday outside his house in Kinmell Close and stole his Chinese "Chenbin" fin and Estonian "Waterway Glider", worth pounds 400 each, along with an iPod and sunglasses. The fins are two of only a few dozen in the whole country and useless to anyone else.

James said: "They stole my fins and I cannot train without them.

"They are expensive, but it is not the money I am worried about or the other stuff.

"What bothers me is I will have to order them from abroad and they would take eight or nine weeks to get here."

James, who has a three-year-old daughter, Sienna, and wife, Ann Marie, added: "In that time, the people I am competing against will be entering competitions, earning points and getting further and further ahead of me."

Electrician James usually trains four times a week at Liverpool Aquatics Centre, in Wavertree; David Lloyd Leisure, in Kirkby, and occasionally at a 100ft deep submarine escape training tank in Gosport.

Despite only starting the sport 12 months ago, he can hold his breath for an amazing five minutes and swim 100m in one breath.

He has also dived to a depth of 46m (150ft) - almost the length of an Olympic-sized swimming pool and up to 25 times deeper.

In his first competition in July, the experienced scuba diver came sixth.

His next competition was due to be in Berlin in November.

Free diving involves plunging to as deep a level as possible, often in open water, without breathing apparatus. . It dates back thousands of years to cultures as far away as Korea and Greece, where divers would gather pearls and valuable sponges from the sea bed.

Divers also use the skill to hunt fish.

James said: "I just want them to bring them back.

"They are no good to anyone but a free diver and if they turn up anywhere, we will know them, so they cannot even sell them on."

. Contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.


LOSS: James Cluskey just wants his fins back SKILL: Free diver James Cluskey, of Anfield, training with his fins, which were stolen from his car last week
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Sep 4, 2009
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