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Carol Schrappe started Freediving during her first scuba instructor course in 2001 when they tested her watermanship skills by having her retrieve anchors from the bottom on one breath of air. She started competing in 2001 in the World Championship when she first dove to 30 meters, but soon after took a break from diving with the birth of her third child. She returned to the sport in 2006 when she took the PFI intermediate course, where she progressed to 46 meters and then to 61 the following year. She now holds the Brazilian National Record with a 74 meter Constant Ballast Dive as well as several other national records.
Carol and her husband own a dive shop in Brazil called Acquanauta Dive Center. “I live for diving and dive for a living. Freediving is my life.”
Erin Magee started freediving while living in the Florida Keys where she worked as a scuba instructor. She took her first freediving course from PFI in February 2008 and began teaching for them the year after. This upcoming year will be her fourth time attending the annual competition in Grand Cayman. Erin is a five-time US National Record Holder in constant weight and currently holds the record at 80m/262 feet. She hopes to push that record deeper this year.
“I just want to see what my body is capable of doing. I want to push the limit and see if there is one.”
When she’s not busy saving the planet, Francesca Koe is either in the ocean or thinking about it. An active scuba instructor, Francesca serves her community as the board President of the Farallones Marine Sanctuary and as a San Francisco Bay Baykeeper. Reporting on the amazing records of her freediving friends around the world is one of the many reasons she enjoys being the editor-in-chief of DeeperBlue, as well as the VP of the United States Apnea Association. Francesca is psyched for Deja Blue II and will be looking for team USA recruits for 2012.
Jenna McGrath is a screenwriter, based in Los Angeles. In addition to writing for several production companies, she leads a team of five writers who create cross-platform media projects (books, graphic novels and tv shows) for children. She recently spent several weeks teaching screenwriting in Africa. She’s the sole graduate of the Benjamin Weiss Frenzel Academy.
Jen Balfour started as an ‘advanced snorkeler’ on family vacations to Hawai’i, and began freediving recreationally in 2008 after taking PFI’s Intermediate Course. Jen’s main interest is underwater photography, so training with PFI and the Vancouver Apneist Club has improved her bottom time and comfort levels so that she can pursue this interest. This will be Jen’s second Cayman competition and she’s looking forward to competing with friends new and old.
If you find yourself in earshot of Ashley you will quickly learn that she has two passions; the 35′ Pearson she will be traveling the world on with her partner Ren Chapman, and freediving. Freediving took Ashley by storm in 2008 when she decided to participate in the PFI Intermediate course in the Cayman Islands. The only goal in mind, to reach 100′ she exceeded her expectations by maxing out the course at 132′. Intoxicated by the rush of success she has gone on to complete the PFI Instructor program. She is now an independant PFI Instructor and president of Evolve Freediving, teaching freediving courses in Wilmington, NC.
Other freediving accomplishments include selection for the 2008 US Women’s Team in the World Freediving Competition, where the US women clenched the silver medal. She has also reached a personal best depth of 201′ at the Deja Blue 2010 Competition, where again, she came home with a silver medal. Among her best dives include the one made to 50′ with Ren Chapman at Deja Blue 2010 where he asked her to marry him! She hopes to improve at Constant Weight No Fins at Deja Blue 2011 and live happily ever after on her boat.
Kerry began freediving two years ago and has been hooked ever since. She has had a lifelong love of the ocean that started with sailing near her home town of Edenton, North Carolina. She started diving with tanks but after a year of blowing bubbles she was looking to drop the gear. She took the PFI beginner course with Ashley and Ren Chapman thru Evolve Freediving in 2010, then took the intermediate course the following year with them as well. She is an athlete that needed an outlet. She ran cross country for NC state and continued to race as an adult. A couple of months after winning her age group in the OBX half marathon she got hit by a car, smashing her leg and landing her in the ICU for 3 days. Over the next couple of years she could not run but she could dive and dive she did. She cruised down to 30m in the intermediate class and did a 5:33 breath hold. This will be her first competition ever and she is going to push her limits.
Free diving became my passion since I was little because my father used to be a fisherman for living and we shared a lot with the ocean, but I started to taking it serious since 2005 when I assisted to VilleFranche World Championship and saw all that people together doing what I loved, Then I assisted to the World Team Championship in Hurgada in 2006. But I had to make a long pause to finish my University career in Business Management till 2010. In 2011 I decided to quit my boring office job and enjoy free diving one more time and do what I truly love… I excited about this event getting to know new people who share the same passion and free dive in such a beautiful place.
Ben lives in Santa Barbara, CA, where he writes computer graphics software for a living. After many years spent surfing, kayaking, and scuba diving, Ben was introduced to freediving in a PFI course three years ago. Since then, freediving has become a passion of his, culminating in a spot on the US freediving team for last year’s World Championships in Okinawa. This year’s will be his third Cayman competition, and he looks forward to outdoing his personal bests, and enjoying time with great friends along the way!
Ted has been an instructor for PFI 3 years now and this will be his 3rd time at the Cayman Competition. He’s looking forward to this year because he’s excited to see the many fun people coming that he hasn’t seen in a long time. He currently lives in Fort Lauderdale and runs freediving classes through his own company, Immersion Freediving, which teaches PFI certification courses in the South Florida area. He also helps Kirk and Mandy with their courses. He’s looking forward to breaking past the 70M mark this year!
Grant Hogan grew up in California and has since lived in Hawaii and now in Florida. Over the past few years he’s spent more and more time in the water scuba diving and developing a serious love of freediving. For many years he worked on dive boats until he took the PFI intermediate course in 2010. Soon after he attended the Cayman competition for the first time in 2011, where he broke the US men’s record for constant weight no fins. After Cayman he became an instructor for PFI and has continued his journey to become a better freediver. The quest continues this year in Cayman.
Jake comes to Cayman from the cold water of Northern California. As a PFI instructor and lifetime freediver he sees competition as another step towards becoming a more complete waterman. In addition to his “real” job Jake founded Pacific Coast Freediving this year and teaches freediving and underwater hunting in California. He is thrilled about the opportunity to compete in a sport that has been a recreation for so long, particularly in a field as accomplished as this. His first PFI experience was in 2009 and this is his second time competing. He’s looking forward to hitting bigger numbers this year.
Steve has been freediving since he was a landlocked kid in Colorado diving in the muddy reservoir chasing crawdads the size of baby lobsters. After experiencing the tropical waters of Mexico as an adolescent he knew diving would be a big part of his adult life and it was for twenty years. However freediving took a backseat to scuba until he met Ren and Ashley. He thought the idea of a class on freediving was kind of silly but his girlfriend Kerry wanted to get better at freediving and had found a class to take. That class, through Evolve freediving opened doors for Steve he did not know existed. With a 7:44 static during the PFI intermediate course Steve blew away anything he had ever done before and got real excited about doing more. This will be his first competition in freediving and he is going to see how deep and how far he can go. Those grouper better watch out.
Greg took his first Freedive course in 2000. Since then he has been on Team Canada several times and is very active in both the recreational and competitive sides of the sport in Vancouver Canada where he lives.
Wes lives in Oregon with his daughter Zan. He has taken part in many Freediving competitions and has held some USA National records.