December Newsletter

As we enter the Christmas holidays, we’d like to take moment to thank you all for your participation and support of our freediving and spearfishing safety initiative.

Since launching FreediveSafe! Hawai’i in August 2020, we have trained over 43 people in lifesaving freediving and spearfishing safety protocols. This is nearly double our initial four month goal!  Of those 43 students, 70% were between 12-21 years old,  99% were spearfishing or freediving without proper training, and over 50% knew someone who had died spearfishing. In addition to the young diver enrolment, we’ve also had many parents join the class interested in learning about the dangers of the sport to better educate their young children, and other parents. This is an essential step towards ensuring this training reaches those just starting out in the sport hopefully leading to “safety training before three-prong” approach.

As our students are learning, freediving and spearfishing safely isn’t difficult, but it does require a commitment from both divers to follow key safety protocols. For breathhold diving, this means both divers attending the formal safety training and both divers swearing to adhere to these safety protocols for the rest of their life. For Every. Single. Dive.

As anticipated, the pandemic has greatly impacted our ability to travel between islands, take larger class sizes and County pools remain closed to group reservations, but we are forging ahead determind to get this lifesaving spearfishing training out there. To adapt, we’ve been hosting classroom sessions in heavily ventilated classrooms, outdoors under gazebos, over Zoom and running the practical training in protected coastal bays on the Big Island and Oahu. Our precautions and your kokua have made these sessions a great success and we’ve had such a great time meeting everyone.

Many community members have been asking how they can help us. Firstly, by registering your kids or attending the training with your dive buddy, you’ve made a significant impact. Beyond this, we ask that you can continue to help us by spreading the word in the community. If you know a spearfisher or freediver that hasn’t taken any formal safety training, tell them to join our FREE program. Our next course is January 10th, 2021 in Kona, and we look forward to releasing more dates soon.

A huge mahalo to our volunteer instructor team, Heidi Hoover, Chris Funada, Dan Koval, Kristin Kuba, Mike Jutt, Martin Stepanek, Dylan Currier, and Cory Fults. Our support facility, Kona Freedivers/Kona Honu Divers and business owner Byron Kay, Freediving Instructors International (F.I.I.), our generous donors, Board of Directors, and to all of you helping our mission towards a safer ocean community!

Mele Kalikimaka, Happy New Year and as always, FreediveSafe! Hawaii.

This is an Emergency

From May to July 2020, we lost five members of the freediving and spearfishing community in Hawai’i. The divers, who were between 15 and 52 years of age, were freediving at Ka’ena Point, O’ahu; Ka’a’awa, O’ahu; Mahukona, Big Island; Old A’s, Big Island and Paia, Maui. As these tragedies unfolded, the media shared heart-wrenching images of the families and friends of these divers. The blow to our community was insufferable and something had to be done to ensure formal freediving/spearfishing safety training was widely available to the public at no cost.

From these tragedies, FreediveSafe! Hawaii was born with a mission to create sustainable, long-term change by launching a FREE community program to train divers in safe freediving protocols proven to mitigate the risks of this sport. By dramatically increasing the availability of this lifesaving training, together we can combat the increase of freediving and spearfishing deaths in Hawai’i.

As FreediveSafe! Hawaii, our mission is to ensure this critical training is provided to everyone who needs it. But achieving that will require a community effort. If you care about the safety of your community and are moved to take action from these recent tragedies, we’re asking you to help FreediveSafe! Hawaii on its mission. Whether it’s encouraging a friend to register for the program, talking story, donating, or putting a FreediveSafe! Hawaii sticker on your truck, every effort matters! Help us get word out and together, let’s prevent freediving related deaths in the islands.

Niki Stepanek
Founder, FreediveSafe! Hawaii
Ph: 808-900-3331