Cayman and PFI
DEJA BLUE 7 ALUM JEREMY WALTON USHERS IN A NEW ERA OF FREEDIVING IN THE CAYMAN ISLANDS.
Deja Blue 007 in April/May 2016 had an exceptionally strong contingent of local Caymanian native and expat freedivers. Some, like Kurt Randolph and Humberto Scanio had been diving with PFI for several years, while for others, like British expat Jeremy Walton, DB7 was their first PFI experience. The event and the camaraderie made an impression on the locals, who not only performed extremely well in the competition but made new and strong friendships with the PFI crew.
Excited about the realization that they had an world-class international freediving competition in their own backyard every spring, and eager to take full advantage of that fact to promote the sport within the Cayman Islands, a devoted group of these freedivers set about to create the very first officially sanctioned Cayman Freediving Association.
Within 2 months, Jeremy Walton, who set several Cayman national records himself at DB7 (see video), and who is a respected local attorney in Georgetown, spearheaded the effort to form a chartered organization recognized by A.I.D.A., the world governing body for the sport. Formed in July 2016, the mission of the Cayman Freediving Association (CFA), as reflected in its constitution, is to develop and promote freediving recreationally and competitively in the Cayman Islands, in safe and responsible environments.
The CFA will actively promote safe freediving practices within the Cayman Islands by, amongst other things, requiring certification for its members and hosting continuing education programmes for its members. … The CFA is committed to supporting and nurturing Caymanian athletes and youth who wish to learn about freediving safety, improve their freediving skills and/or participate in freediving competitions.
The CFA is a non-profit entity whose first set of officers are as follows:
- Chairman: Jeremy Walton
- Competitions Officer: Kurt Randolph
- Communications & AIDA Liaison Officer: Mark Hall
- Secretary: Emma-Jane Fisher
- Training & Safety Officer: Mark Rowe
- Treasurer: Jan Feik
The first challenge the organization sought to tackle was the fact that for years, the Cayman government had a policy of refusing to recognize freediving as a legitimate and safe sport, and thereby not supporting it. An interesting policy for a country with such exceptionally beautiful waters, friendly people and just a perfect venue for freediving and the benefit it brings to the tourism industry and local economy. Enter attorney Walton, who has a reputation on island as a fearless advocate, a problem solver and very effective communicator. Jeremy arranged a meeting with the Minister of Sport and PFI’s Kirk Krack, who has been promoting diving and freediving in the Cayman Islands for over 20 years. Globetrotting Kirk hopped a plane from the DEMA show in Las Vegas on short notice and met with Jeremy and the Minister in mid November. The meeting was a success, allowing Kirk to enlighten the Minister on the many ways freediving education and certification has evolved over the years into a safe, organized, and professional endeavor that affords participants an amazing and natural underwater experience and which complements Cayman’s well deserved reputation as one of the best scuba diving destinations in the world.
To make a long story short—thanks to Jeremy and Kirk and the efforts of the newly minted Cayman Freediving Association, the unofficial “ban” on government support for our beloved sport has been lifted and we look forward to working with the government of the Cayman Islands for years to come!