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.
I’ve spent a fair amount of time spearfishing growing up in Hawai`i but have not dove to any significant depth in over 10 years since moving to the mainland. I finally decided it was time to rekindle my relationship with the ocean and found Evolve Freediving through PFI. I wanted the deeper instruction from the intermediate course but was reluctant to enroll since it’s been so long. Nonetheless, it seemed that I met the basic requirements and I must say, taking the course with Ricardo, Ren and Ashley Chapman resulted in a major paradigm shift in my life. If you’re considering taking this course, I found it immensely valuable for the following reasons:
- 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.
After this course, I feel I have rekindled my passion for the ocean and want to continue increasing my comfort in the water. I plan to continue working with Ashely and Ren to close the gap to my potential. The lesson in pushing through mental barriers was an unexpected but welcome outcome and perhaps the most valuable lesson I got from this course.
First and foremost I just wanted to say how awesome that class was this week. I’m glad you guys continue to push me past my boundaries and further myself in the sport. I’m still very interested in pursuing my instructor certification in the sport and will continue to seek your assistance in getting myself there. I truly think PFI has a great instructional methodology and would love to be a part of it. Let me know what time that Chesapeake get together is so i can come see you guys and Ani of course. Thanks again for getting me past my 100′ mark!!
Where do I begin? I learned so much from Ashley and Ren in those 4 days, I am so thankful. These guys have made me safer, more confident, and have given me the guidance I needed to take my diving to the next level. It is so rare to come across individuals who can take something that we love and feel proficient in, and blow the doors off what we thought were the upper limits of our abilities. So for that, I thank you both.
Brendan Delzin (From Trinidad)
I just want to say thank you for an amazing experience. Both of you made me feel so comfortable in the ocean. This is hands down some of the best money I’ve ever spent on a course and you have fundamentally changed the way i will free dive from now on. I left the course hitting the 66 feet mark and a 4 minute static breath-hold which is more than i can ask for. Looking forward to doing the intermediate course with you all in Tobago! You all are great people and i wish you all the best in your competition in bonaire!Thanks again.Brendan
Kenronishe Gumbs (Trinidad and Tobago)
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.