I began freediving by taking the basic and then the intermediate freediver courses with Ren and Ashley Chapman of Evolve freediving. I have gone on to become a competitive freediver with Ashley as my coach. Ren and Ashley are both very dynamic teachers and you can really get a sense of how much they love this sport as it comes out in their teaching styles. They are very personable and this spills out into their classes. Taking their courses has introduced me
to a whole new world of freediving and moving into the competitive segment with Ashley as my coach has been a great experience. She is very attentive and adjusts her coaching based on your ever changing needs. All the while, getting you maximally prepared for whatever your goal may be. They are not only top notch instructors but they are also amazing people!
I am a PADI Divemaster so I have had my fair share of dive classes. The PFI Intermediate class is the most life changing of them all. The instructors are equally amazing. I had Erin MacGee, Ren, and Ashley Chapman. Freediving is more mentally and physically involved than SCUBA so it can be overwhelming. Their teaching style is very reassuring, they put you at ease, and never let you feel the techniques are beyond you.
I spent a week with Ren and Ashley in the Bahamas in the fall of 2012, preparing for an instructor exam in November. I was more than prepared by the time the week was over, evidenced by passing my instructor exam comfortably. The instruction was top notch, helping me achieve PBs almost every day we dove. Ren and Ashley are both conscientious, responsive and worked thoughtfully to meet my goals. Ren is one of the most capable safety divers I have dove with and Ashley is outstanding at problem solving. The most pleasant surprise was that the week became more than just a training period. It was a week of discovering new friends, a little more about myself, detoxification (from electronics, noise pollution etc…) and safely exploring limits. I formed meaningful friendships with other freedivers that I teach and dive with today.
- The Chapman’s have a knowledge base and experience beyond anything you will find in a book or internet. Ashley has obtained multiple world records in her career as a competitive freediver and her depth in understanding and passion for the sport comes through in her teaching. She is also very keen to modifying her approach to address your specific sticking point. It wasn’t until this class that I realized that I frenzel’d incorrectly. I would not have figured it out on my own without her watching. It’s much easier to just have faith that what she tells you is the right way (such as with ventilation, purging, etc.) rather than trying to figure it out using online resources. Also, Ren was positive and encouraging during the static apnea exercise and I felt alright pushing my limits.
- I felt safe during the entire time I was in the water, and from this place allowed me to peel back a layer of fear and go deeper than I’ve ever been in my life. Prior to this course, the deepest I’ve ever dove was about 50 ft. After a couple of unsuccessful attempts at 100 ft. during the open water portion of the course, I made it to the marker on my final dive. My fear and doubt grew louder in my head every foot beyond the halfway point but with Ricardo right behind me, I was motivated to allow myself to fall and adhere to my resolve to make it to the end of the rope. The sensation of pressure I felt at that depth was beyond anything I’ve felt before. Months later, I can still recall the feeling and put into perspective any kind of uncomfortable sensation I may be feeling at the time.
Brendan Delzin (From Trinidad)
On behalf of the Trinidad and Tobago freediving crew, a heartfelt thank you is extended to both Ren and Ashley. You guys are phenomenal, instructors. Even though I had quite a bit of experience as a free diver, you guys really brought the missing pieces to the puzzle and because of that I am a better and safer freediver today.
I can go much deeper, I am safer in the water and able to provide assistance to another and my static apnea has improved greatly. Most importantly, I felt so relaxed around you guys as though I had known you all my life. Your free spirited and fun nature is very contagious. You both definitely make freediving worth learning. Your enthusiasm, passion and desire to pass on your knowledge was the highlight of my intermediate experience. I always say freedivers are the best people to meet and you guys have definitely held true to that belief. Hope to see you guys again.
I would recommend anyone to you guys…under your supervision one’s free diving skills will go to another dimension. Hope to see you guys again soon but this time in Tobago…*Cheer*
Not forgetting Mustaq, thanks for assisting with the facilitation of the course, location and water transportation.