1. Do you remember how and when did you find out about freediving? What made you to start freediving? What were your 1st steps in this sport?
I found out about freediving first when my friend and the pool manager, Will Spivey, at my local pool, the Panama City Beach Aquatic Center, told me he was taking a course. We discussed it briefly but I did not give it so much thought after that. About a year later I was to take a business trip to Hawaii and made the commitment to advance my Scuba certifications while I was in Hawaii as quickly as possible. I finished Advanced and Rescue Diver certifications. Rescue diver certification changed my outlook on diving from inward to outward to learn to watch out for the other divers who may be less capable. Upon my return to Panama City Beach, I continued to advance my certifications with my favorite local shop Dive Locker. Within six months of leaving for Hawaii I became a PADI certified Divemaster.
Becoming a professional Divemaster was what led me to freediving. I started working the dive boat taking out charters and watching over the people. At Dive Locker and with most of the dive charters in the area we do out of water supervision. I found this boring and started to freedive to about 20 meters to watch the divers and check about their safety. I found it a lot of fun but a friend warned me that this was dangerous.
Following some further research I decided my friend was right and I decided to get certified. I found a course taught by Kirk Krack in Fort Lauderdale and told my daughter Meghan about it. Meghan said, “I want to do that”. So I enrolled us both and we took our first course in 2013 and both finished well. We were hooked. Shortly after we enrolled in Advanced and Safety Supervisor Training and I became an Instructor as well learning in Kona, Hawaii. One of the most wonderful places to dive I have been ever and since. My last day in instructor training we saw a mother and a calf Humpback swim underneath us to tour the bay and eyeball the tourists and the Instructor class.
2. What is your favourite discipline in freediving and which one you don’t like? And could you explain why?
My favorite discipline is no-fins. I like it best because it is difficult and the best workout. The other reason I enjoy it is because you can pack the least amount of dive gear. I love to train in no fins in the freshwater springs that we have in the North Florida Panhandle area. I feel so lightweight. I to be way underweighted and power down to neutral buoyancy. Then a couple of armpulls and you are flying back to the surface. Super fun!
3. Tell please few words about your freediving trainings approach: How many times a week do you train? And do you have a fixed schedule or you just wake up in the morning, look into mirror and depending on your mood, body condition or weather decide what to do today?
Currently I am training every day in the pool. I try to go in the afternoon when the sun is out and the temperature is the warmest. It works best with my schedule. This may change as I have a new job which is going to place some demands on my time. I am hopeful the noontime training time is still available to me.
I could not say enough about the beauty of the Panama City Beach Aquatic Center and the support staff. They are awesome. The water is always clear and warm and beautiful to swim in.
I grew up as a competitive swimmer and have kept it up ever since. Without being in the pool I don’t really feel right. I love how swimming clears your head (mind and sinus).
I love to do fin training in the pool and do a lot of underwater kicking. I also love to do drills where I mix up swimming with vertical diving to the bottom of the pool. I like to do sets with 2 dives to 3m (max depth in our pool) per 25 yards. I also enjoy no fin drills and love to invent new things to do. My plan is to share some video of some of these training sets with the freedive community internationally.
4. And how often do you try something new in your freediving trainings?
I usually do something new every day but its a lot of times repeat of old things or new mixtures or new orders. I always start out with 500 yards swimming or more. I also never get tired of underwater backstroke kick with fins.
5. The next question – what makes you day after day to go to train in a pool/sea? What motivates you to train hard? How do you fight humans’ laziness?
I have been swimming so long I just don’t feel good unless I get into the pool. Its basically a makeup of my psychology and physiology now. I am 57 years old and have been swimming since I was six. Pool training is my thing because I can do it alone. I work my sets alone and don’t push breathing to contractions. I always surface before contractions.
Ocean training is hard for me because we don’t have many buddies available. That is why I became an instructor. I have trained several to be buddies in the area but we are still a small group and most of my students don’t love the pool training as much as I do.
6. Do you believe that some food products could influence the ability to equalize? Like gluten or lactose for example create more mucus which is not good for equalizing? Do you personally follow any diet?
I follow a strict diet for health reasons and learned it works for diving. I don’t eat hardly any meat. Mostly salads and pasta or beans and rice. Occasionally I will splurge on a pizza. I read that we all have cancer cells in us and malignancy occurs when the cells grow out of control. I leaned that cancer cells love mucous as the mucous protects cancer cells from antibodies. Mucous is produced by cheese. Mucous also makes it more difficult to equalize when it is thick and sticky, I don’t each much cheese at all. Sometimes a little parmesan with my pasta. I learned cancer cells love lots of protein especially from meat. This helps them develop thick cell walls to protect them against antibodies that get through the mucous. Lastly I don’t eat any refined sugar or deserts (sometimes chocolate cookies, nobody is perfect). Sugar helps cancer cells divide and grow more rapidly.
These things I learned about cancer cells may be wrong as I am not a physician, just a little bit of an engineer.
7. Let’s talk about money. J Do you have any support from sports community of your country or may be some trade brand?
In the USA support is not very much and not very well coordinated. I took it as a personal responsibility to promote Team USA as Captain for 2016 World Championships. We raised a little bit of money for the event but only about 20% of the expenses. Some of the team members did their own fundraising efforts which helped them and was perhaps more successful. We had no corporate sponsors. My goal is to do much better for 2018. My trade brand is in its infancy and mostly for the freedive instructor business which is still very small.
In the US freediving is getting more popular as a participant sport but not as one where people are enthusiastically following the countries athletes as in other countries like Japan and maybe Russia. I only can guess about those countries as the leaders facebook feeds are full and friend requests are not possible, only to friend those athletes.
I want to give back to the sport by helping the US following grow to be more like some of the other countries.
8. What about your targets in freediving? What would you like to achieve and how deep would you like to get?
I would like to be a 100 meter diver one day. IT is difficult as deep water is 25 miles offshore in the Gulf Coast of the USA. I would have to travel to Hawaii really to train for deep diving. Perhaps Cayman Islands which has a growing community of freedivers. My teammate Kurt Randolph I believe will soon be a 100m diver.
I would like to break the static American record to have all three pool records. But these are secondary goals to becoming a better athlete, staying in shape, staying healthy and being a good example to younger athletes as to what is possible.
9. What do you do except freediving? Do you have any hobbies?
I swim and enjoy the water with my dogs. I work a lot and read a lot. I am always trying to learn new things and improve my attitude. I am always trying to learn more in Computer Science and Cybersecurity. I have projects in real estate, and new ones in aquaculture and hydroponics in the workings. I hope to spend more time with my granddaughter. And of course mostly I love teaching a freedive class whenever I can.
10. What would you advise to people, who just discovered this sport?
Please get certified, Don’t try to save money and learn on your own without professional training. The professionals are always learning and improving their game. If you are certified consider becoming an instructor. I put up a post about US Navy divers doing breathhold training in the pool and doing it wrong. (Side by side, both divers underwater at the same time.) Two US Navy Seals died last year in a pool in Virginia that way. I always confront those noobs and tell them get certified. Learn how to be a good safety. People who don’t know what they are doing are getting pools closed off to athletes who want to train correctly in the US. The US is a very litigious society which is why hardly any pools have 3m diving boards (platform diving) in the US.
Never dive alone. Also certified professionals get sloppy sometimes especially when fishing is involved. Someone always needs to step up and get everybody to follow protocol and discuss dive plans. Communication is the key especially when poor visibility is involved. Kelp on the surface makes it even more difficult. That’s why good communication and using a line and a float are a must in my opinion.
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