Name: Keola Bandmann
Level: Freediver Instructor
Phone: 808-443-9424
Email: keolabandmann@gmail.com
Location: Hilo, HI USA

Keola was born in Hawaii, raised on the mainland, and now, is back in Hawaii—at least half the year, anyway. Since he can remember, he has always loved the water, especially being underneath it. While in high school, his family took a trip to an isolated beach in Mexico. For the trip, his dad bought a few sets of masks, snorkels, and fins, and a couple of pole spears for him and his brothers. He was instantly hooked on spearfishing, and the water world became an even more delightful experience with mask, snorkel, and fins.

At the age of 26, with a strong desire to serve his country, Keola enlisted in the U.S. Navy to become a Navy SEAL. The lure and challenge of becoming the best of what the U.S. military had to offer was very strong for him. The fact that of all the Special Operations units the SEALs main environment to work in was water, added to the reason he chose the SEALs over any other Special Operations. Unfortunately, the high impact, high stress environment took a toll on his joints and he was medically retired.

Among other things, Keola’s experience in the SEALs taught him the importance of being safe and always having a buddy. This goes hand-in-hand with PFI philosophy. However, techniques for freediving and apnea weren’t taught as part of his training. He wishes these things were taught while he served, as they would have improved performance in various aspects of his SEAL training.

These days, freediving allows Keola to continue being active without any huge stresses on his joints. He loves the challenges it presents, and loves the freedom and “oneness” that he feels while diving.

In 2007, he and his wife bought a small place outside of Hilo, and their family has gone back every year for about half the year to stay and enjoy the winters. His number one diving buddy is his 12 year-old son, Kimo, who’s been in the water ever since he was a baby. They usually keep their dive gear in the car, so that anytime they feel like getting out in the water, they can. Keola loves Hawaii island and its beautiful waters and enjoys sharing this with others.