Kimi Werner was born and raised in Maui. As a child, she enjoyed snorkeling with her father and witnessed him spearfishing in order to provide for his family. Later on in her life, as an adult, she discovered her passion for freediving. Fast forward a few years later, Kimi managed to become the United States National Spearfishing Champion. In a TEDx Talk, she revealed how her first spearfishing competition unfolded.
The Spearfishing National Championships travel all over the US - it goes to Florida, goes to California, Hawaii, but of course, the year that I decided I was ready, it was in Newport, Rhode Island. I wasn't a sponsored athlete, I had to fundraise just to get myself there and I was only able to arrive four days before the actual tournament, to make myself completely certain that it was nothing like diving Hawaii.
In Hawaii I like swimming on the surface, I study the fish in the reef below and I plan my drops accordingly. In Rhode Island, I could barely see my own fins! I had to take these blind drops into the darkness and when I would I'd see a layer of green below and I think to myself “thank goodness, there's the bottom”, and then I’d go right through it. I'd see a layer of brown below that and I say “okay, there it is” and I go right through that too. And this would freak me out and send me back to the surface, gasping for air. I honestly started to think I was never going to find the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean but, through learning to slow down and trust myself, I was able to let go of my expectations of where the bottom should be and, instead, just believe that the bottom would come.
I did make it all the way down there and when I did, it turned out that there were muscles that lived on the bottom, and these muscles filtered the water so that I could see and I also learned to listen. For the first time in my life, I could hear fish swimming around me, and I learned to hunt that way. Four days later I became the National Champion and I was named Rookie of the Year.