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Group of 14 women set Canadian skydiving record

Fourteen women jumped out of a plane, made eight formations in the sky, and set a new Canadian skydiving record last week.

Coordinated skydiving — an intense mental and physical feat, says Toronto record-setter

On August 16, a group of women skydivers set the inaugural Canadian record for formation Skydiving. (Daniel Lepôt)

Talk about aiming high.

Fourteen women jumped out of a plane last week, made eight separate shapes with their bodies, and set a new Canadian skydiving record.

It was a record for the largest — and first — group of women doing sequential formation skydiving in Canada. After jumping from around 13,200 feet, the skydivers made the eight, choreographed formations in about 50 seconds, before letting go and opening their parachutes.

"It takes an incredible amount of mental focus," said Lana Pesch, one of the 14 record-setters.

Skydiving feels terrific, she says, but it also takes intense concentration.

"I think a lot of people don't realize that that's a main component of skydiving," she said. "Visualization, being relaxed, thinking about what you're doing, being disciplined about every single movement."

The team of record-setting skydivers. (Daniel Lepôt)

'You're literally flying your body'

The jump was highly rehearsed, said Pesch, and teamwork is critical. The group practiced everything over and over on the ground, she said, including getting into and out of the plane. 

The jumpers' use so many parts of their body, Pesch said, adding that they need immense muscle strength and control.

"Your body is your instrument. You're literally flying your body," said Pesch, adding that some people need to "cup air" with their body to match the fall rate of the group. The women practiced both standing up and on their stomachs, she said, to simulate falling through the air. 

Lana Pesch was one of 14 women who set a Canadian record for formation-sequential skydiving last week. (Laura Howells/CBC)

A panel of judges from the Canadian Sport Parachuting Association analyzed video of the coordinated jump, making sure that the skydivers were completely separated between the different formations, they were following through on each formation they had planned, and that everyone was in sync.

The record-setting jump was part of a five-day skydiving stint, where the women did 20 jumps in total. That Monday was the first time the team had jumped together, Pesch said, and they made their eight-formation jump by Thursday, August 16.

'It's liberating'

Pesch has done 450 jumps in her lifetime, and says she'll keep coming back for the challenge and exhilaration.

"There's a freedom about it. It's liberating," she said.

Lana Pesch lands a jump in her parachute. (Daniel Lepôt)

"If there's ever a sport that has a lifelong learning curve, it's skydiving," said Pesch, adding that she might go for a dive that afternoon — ​her usual drop zone is Skydive Burnaby, around 90 minutes from Toronto. "You can always get better."

There's no age limit for skydiving, Pesch said — there's a group called SOS (Skydivers Over Sixty), that she may very well join someday.

(Canadian Sport Parachuting Association/Facebook)

With files from Metro Morning and Laura Howells