John Gannon

John’s love of diving began a little later in life than one might expect.  After borrowing a friend’s mask and fins on a trip to Maui at age 19 he stayed in the ocean the rest of the week.  The challenge of going deeper and staying down longer was addicting from the very beginning.  Leaving the island all he could think about was how to get back so he could keep freediving.

A few weeks after returning from Hawaii a father’s day picnic brought John to Fort Ross Cove along the northern California coast.  He still had his friend’s snorkel set and an old 3mm surf suit his mother had picked up at the Goodwill years before.  With his father’s encouragement and despite his mother’s valid and obvious concerns he decided to take a quick swim in the 55 degree water.  After finding and pulling an abalone John was hooked for good.  He did eventually purchase booties, gloves and a cheap hood.  “The owner of the dive shop practically gave me a hood when he found out I’d been diving for months without one”, he laughs.  Over the next four years John would dive once and sometimes twice a week, almost exclusively by himself.  “I must have a guardian angel or just damn good luck”, he now says of all the hazards he was able to naively avoid.

Somewhere around 2004 John found the Performance Freediving website.  Every year he’d fantasize about taking the Monterey course and becoming a better diver.  After six years he finally registered.  Taking the intermediate class was an amazing experience for John.  Diving 100’ that weekend is something he says he’ll never forget.  On the boat ride back to harbor Erin Magee suggested he think about taking the Advanced and Instructor courses… The very next morning he signed up for the advanced class in Ft Lauderdale.

The intermediate class made John a much better diver but the advanced class transformed him into the freediver he’d always dreamed of being.  By the end of the class he surprised himself by hitting 50m, still feeling like he could have gone deeper.  As soon as he got back home to a computer he was registered for the instructor program in Kona.

Upon returning to the icy Nor Cal waters John found his bottom time had increased from an average of 55-70 seconds to around 100.  Needless to say his dive buddies were getting a little anxious for him to show them what he had learned.  They’d have to wait until he got back from Kona ready to teach the Freediver course.

John had been warned that the instructor courses are extremely challenging, but he was still surprised at how hard he had to work to pass.  “For six days all I did was lecture, dive, eat, prepare more lectures then try to get enough sleep to make it through another day” is all he can recall of Kona.  Passing Kirk’s course is something he’ll always be proud of.

John’s hope is to bring a more disciplined approach to freediving back home to Northern California.  He plans on teaching courses on his own and also helping out the PFI staff instructors with the intermediate courses in California.  Some personal goals of John’s are 70m in constant ballast and to increase his static hold from about 6 minutes to a nice clean 7 minutes in a competition.  He has plans on competing in Cayman in 2012.

John can be contacted at john.w.gannon@citi.com.

Yamamoto Oceaner OPS Dive Wise