For over two decades, Kirk Krack has developed education and certification programs with one goal: to improve safety in freediving. Through his leadership and participation in various projects, Kirk has contributed to the advancement of the scientific study of hypoxic effects on the human body and to the conservation of our oceans and its creatures. In 2016, in recognition of his sustained and valuable contributions, he was named the Diver’s Alert Network (DAN)/Rolex Diver of the Year.
Kirk always had an affinity for the water. He became scuba certified at 15 and, within four years, he owned and operated the first of several dive shops across the world. By age 20, Kirk had progressed through the instructor ranks of recreational scuba and become a devoted technical diving enthusiast, progressing to the level of instructor trainer. During this time, while teaching tech diving out of his dive shop on Grand Cayman (and diving deeper with tanks than all but a handful of humans on the planet), Kirk became enthralled by freediving. Combining his knowledge of water-related physics and physiology that had been honed through his scuba and tech diving career with a motivation to test himself and explore human potential, Kirk began training athletes in competitive freediving, which was then a sport known mainly in Mediterranean Europe. Kirk has trained seven athletes to 23 world records and dozens more to hundreds of national records; chief among these is Kirk’s wife, Mandy-Rae Krack, whom he trained and coached to seven world records and 13 Canadian national records. Never one to rest on his success, Kirk continued to distill the knowledge he gained by testing techniques, refining the process, and improving his methods.
In January 2000, Kirk formed Performance Freediving International (PFI) in order to create and implement freediving safety and training standards. PFI is the second oldest freedive-specific training and certification agency in the world and the oldest in the Western Hemisphere. Through its more than 100 highly trained and rigorously qualified and insured instructors, PFI has trained and certified over 10,000 freedivers. With PFI’s intense focus on safety and problem prevention and management, these courses have saved countless lives and contributed to generations of divers who respect and protect our oceans. Under Kirk’s leadership, PFI instructors offer recreational and professional level courses ranging from Snorkeler to Advanced Instructor Trainer at locations worldwide.
Kirk has used the body of knowledge he gained over two decades of teaching and training freedivers to develop specialized training programs that allow athletes and other specific groups to gain the benefits of breath-hold training. Kirk developed the first ever Breath-Hold Surf Survival (BHSS) course--a program that trains the world’s top big wave surfers to survive the violent “hold downs” that occur when they become trapped for long periods underwater beneath mountainous waves. Top sponsors like Oakley and Red Bull send their athletes through Kirk’s BHSS program, and he has trained world-class athletes ranging from Olympic downhill skiers to motocross riders to endurance racers. Through Kirk’s training, these athletes not only realize distinct physiological benefits and adaptations, but they also develop the mental strength and focus to withstand the intense discomfort brought on by minutes of activity performed without breathing.
The success of Kirk’s BHSS program led to the development of other programs for professionals who are called on to perform under extreme duress on a single breath. Kirk developed PFI’s Breath-Hold Special Operations (BHSO) program to train elite military special operations team members in the techniques and mental fortitude skills required to withstand minutes underwater on a single breath while the body is in a state of high metabolism and distress. This training is invaluable for civilian and military personnel like swift water rescue teams, search and rescue teams, and military special forces operators for whom surfacing to take a breath may not be an option. Today, Kirk develops programs for the special forces operators of three nations’ militaries: the U.S., Canada, and Great Britain.
In 2016, Kirk and his PFI instructors developed the first ever freedive training course for individuals with disabilities. That same year, he developed safety protocols for “Technical Freediving,” which involves the use of mixed gases to prolong breath-hold, reduce fatigue, and speed recovery. In January 2017, Kirk led the first ever freedive expedition to explore the sunken World War II shipwrecks of the Truk Lagoon in Micronesia, an effort that combined technical freediving with the use of underwater dive propulsion vehicles (DPVs) to achieve breath-hold dives of greater than six minutes.
For over 10 years, Kirk has hosted an international freediving competition known as Deja Blue in the Cayman Islands. Kirk has pioneered the development and use of multiple redundant safety systems including counterbalances, deep sea rebreather divers, highly trained safety freedivers on breath-hold, and underwater scooters to ensure the safest conditions possible for the athletes, many of whom have set world and national records at Deja Blue.
Kirk’s unique wealth of experience and talent for teaching have made his services highly sought after by those who want and need the absolute best. Among the individuals Kirk has trained are Tom Cruise and Rebecca Ferguson for their underwater roles in the blockbuster feature film Mission: Impossible–Rogue Nation, Margot Robbie and her stunt double for their underwater roles in Suicide Squad (in which Kirk also served as a credited on-screen stunt double for Batman), endurance performer and illusionist David Blaine for his world record breath-hold attempts live on the Oprah Winfrey Show (he survived over 17 minutes on a single breath of oxygen-enriched air), Tiger Woods, Lindsey Vonn, and Woody Harrelson. Most recently, he's worked with actors on the set of James Cameron's upcoming Avatar 2, the sequel to the epic Avatar film.
Kirk’s expertise has also been sought out by highly regarded organizations to aid in their specialized missions related to dive safety, scientific study, and freedive education. Kirk sits on the Board of Advisors for Divewise.org and has advised on the development of Oceanic Safety System’s lifesaving Freediver Recovery Vest. Diver’s Alert Network (DAN), the world’s largest dive safety organization, and the National Association of Underwater Instructors (NAUI), the world’s leading non-profit diving association, have both formed educational alliances with PFI to give their members access to Kirk’s knowledge and expertise. Kirk has given lectures to groups around the world including the American Academy of Underwater Sciences (AAUS), Oceanic Preservation Society (OPS), and the Undersea & Hyperbaric Medical Society (UHMS) on topics related to apnea, freediving safety, and breath-hold training.
Kirk's and Mandy-Rae’s breath-hold abilities (each in excess of seven minutes) have made them uniquely qualified for a variety of projects in the motion picture industry. They served as underwater videographers and on-screen talent in the movie The Cove, which won the Academy Award for Best Documentary in 2010. Kirk served as principal videographer and on-screen diver in numerous other films and projects including Oceanic Preservation Society’s Racing Extinction (2015), GoPro’s Whale Fantasia (2013), PFI’s Defending the Vandenberg (2011), and Waterborn’s Wreckage and subsequent shorts beginning in 2014.
Kirk has devoted his professional life to the improvement of safety, the advancement of knowledge, and the proliferation of education in the sport and recreation of freediving. He is a pioneer in his field and his exceptional qualifications speak for themselves:
· Open water SCUBA certified since 1984.
· PADI Master professional SCUBA instructor since 1988.
· Nitrox and technical certifications since 1992.
· Founded and operated the second International Association of Nitrox and Technical Diving (IANTD) facility in Canada in 1993.
· Appointed Director of IANTD Canada in 1994.
· Founder and operator of Dive Tech, the first technical diving center in the Cayman Islands, which opened in the late 90s.
· IANTD / TDI Trimix Instructor Trainer certified in 1997.
· IANTD / TDI Rebreather Instructor Trainer certified.
· 15 mixed-gas dives to depths in excess of 500 f.s.w.
· Logged > 1,800 SCUBA dives.
· Director of Safety for legendary freediver Pipin Ferreras’s “Cayman Challenge” no-limits event in 1997, which involved deep safety and videographers at 400 f.s.w.
· Trained and coached Tanya Streeter and Brett LeMaster to one national record and one world record between 1997 and 1999.
· Founded Performance Freediving International in January 2000 to develop safety and standardized education in the sport.
· In 2000, Kirk began training Mandy-Rae Cruickshank and Martin Stepanek who would eventually hold sixteen world records between them. Kirk has trained seven athletes to 23 world records and dozens more to hundreds of national records in all disciplines of the sport.
· Founder and President of the Canadian Association of Freediving and Apnea (CAFA).
· As Team Captain for CAFA’s Team Canada, Kirk coached and managed the women’s team to two first place finishes and three third place finishes at AIDA (Association Internationale pour le Développement de l’Apnée) World Championships in Spain, France, Cyprus, Hawaii, Egypt, and Canada.
· Founding member of the United States Apnea Association (now United States Freediving Association) for which Kirk organized regional and national competitions.
· Primary organizer for the 4th AIDA Individual World Freediving Championships in Vancouver, Canada in 2004. Kirk pioneered the use, for the first time, of live bottom-to-surface cameras with underwater communications for the attending spectators.
· Member of the executive board of AIDA International, serving as Vice-President Americas from 2002-2005.
· AIDA International Judge qualified to judge AIDA sanctioned national and world record attempts.
· AIDA Level A Trainer and Five Star Trainer.
· Kirk was instrumental in developing AIDA’s first “Judge in Learning” protocols as well as CAFA and AIDA’s first “Safety Protocols for Competitions and Records”.
· Formed the Simon Fraser University Advanced Freediver Research Project in conjunction with Dr. Andrew Blaber in Vancouver, BC, Canada, which studied the amazing physiological adaptations gained by individuals practicing freedive-specific breathing and stretching exercises over a 12-week period. The study was conducted annually for four years beginning in 2004.
· Kirk continues to work with many of the world’s most respected freedive researchers and physicians on various aspects of freediving safety including decompression illness (DCI), pulmonary barotraumas, the physiology of blackout, and the statistical evidence surrounding blackouts and fatalities in freediving.
· Secured the first professional liability insurance for a freedive-specific training and certification organization in North America.
· Board of Advisors for Divewise.org.
· Technical Advisor to Oceanic Safety System in the development of their Freediver Recovery Vest.
· Formula Three Freediving (F3F) President and Founder.
· Divers Alert Network’s DAN/Rolex Diver of the Year 2016.
Entertainment & Film Industry Experience
· The Cove, 2009: On-screen talent (freediver) and principal underwater videographer. The film won the Academy Award for Best Documentary in 2010.
· Racing Extinction, 2015: From the Oceanic Preservation Society and the director of The Cove. Kirk served as on-screen freediver and underwater cameraman.
· Whale Fantasia, 2013: Served as coordinator and underwater videographer of GoPro’s award winning short film, viewed over 3.5 million times.
· Defending the Vandenberg, 2011: Producer and principal actor/freediver and safety coordinator.
· Wreckage, 2014, and subsequent underwater short films by Waterborn.
· Trained David Blaine for his 2016 Drowned Alive event and his Oxygen Breath-Hold World Record Attempt on the Oprah Show in 2008.
· Trained actors Tom Cruise and Rebecca Ferguson for their underwater roles in the feature film Mission: Impossible–Rogue Nation (2015), helping them achieve breath-holds in excess of six minutes and five minutes respectively.
· Trained actor Margot Robbie and her stunt double for their underwater roles in Suicide Squad (2016), resulting in breath-holds over five minutes.
· Trained actors on the set of James Cameron's Avatar 2 (2020).