North Carolina native Ashley Futral Chapman is leaving her mark on competitive freediving. She took interest in the sport in 2008 so she could spearfish the North Carolina waters with her husband, Ren. After struggling with shallow 50 foot dives, she decided to accompany Ren to the Cayman Islands for their first PFI Intermediate freediving course. In just four days, Ashley propelled herself from 50 feet to over 122 feet. Hooked, she trained for the summer and traveled with Ren to Egypt to compete for the first time as an alternate with Team USA. While in Egypt and with the help of PFI founder, Kirk Krack, she managed to increase her depth to 180 feet. The US women earned the silver medal.
Ashley and Ren spent 2009 earning their PFI instructor certifications. In 2010, Ashley got back into the competitive circuit. Since then she has competed in multiple competitions around the globe including PFI’s Deja Blue where she has earned 2 world records and 5 national records, all in depth. In 2012, she traveled to Nice, France to compete in the Team World Championship as a competitor and co-captain--she earned a national record in the pool. 2012 also brought her to Suunto’s Vertical Blue where she clenched four more depth national records making her the deepest woman in the US. She also earned another world record in CNF after plunging down to 220 feet and surfacing confidently.
“I knew I had the dive in me. I executed the dive twice before in practice with ease. I just needed to get beyond the pressure that comes with announcing a world record and it being the first day of the competition. My greatest strength in training has been my husband Ren — he takes care of everything else so I can simply just dive.”
Ashley has been teaching freediving with her husband, Ren, in North Carolina and abroad from their sailboat. They spend most summers back home in NC where courses include tips on spearfishing and diving with sharks! Winter and spring months are spent abroad focusing instruction in the Bahamas, Grand Cayman, Roatan, Honduras, and the Florida Keys. Ashley began a new and possibly the most challenging adventure of her life when she welcomed a new addition, Ani, to their family October 5, 2013.