Spearfishing and Freediving

Spearfishing and Freediving

Episode 100: John Kowitz

John Kowitz -- underwater photography, world travel, ocean conservation

John Kowitz left the cold, fresh waters of Michigan to find his calling in warm, tropical waters around the world. As an underwater photographer John has captured stunning shots of people, animals, and scenes in places like Hawaii, Bahamas, Costa Rica, and more. While developing his strength as a free diver, John has developed a deep respect for ocean conservation and along with stories of swimming with hammerheads, mantas, and pilot whales, shares his perspective on protecting our oceans and the animals we all love. If you can, take a look at John’s photography on Instagram @j.kowitz while you listen to his stories — his work is epic.
 
If you hate using the plastic bags at grocery stores for your produce, hit Google for ‘washable produce bags’ and pick up a set of the reusables. It makes a ton of sense.
 
Thanks for sharing John’s ocean life with us. Be sure to check him out on Instagram and dive into his photography website
 
Additional parts of our conversation:

 

  • Splitting time between career as a travel nurse and photography
  • Grew up in Michigan
  • Evolution of photography and camera gear
  • Guiding spearfishing trips on Maui with Maui Spearfishing Academy and Bobby Twitchell (past guest)
  • Guiding whale and shark freediving tours on the Kona coast
  • Animals — pilot whales, ocean white tips, hammerhead sharks, mantas
  • intricacies of diving and photographing hammerhaed and pilot whales
  • Cocos Island trip with SharkWatch
  • Observing Hammerhead Shark cleaning station where small reef fish pick parasites off of the sharks
  • Working and training with world-class athletes and special forces at XPT with Laird Hamilton
This Ocean Life Podcast John Kowitz

Episode 98: Greg Lewandowski

Greg Lewandowski -- boat captain, scuba instructor, freediver, fisherman, photographer

Born in Poland and raised in the cold ocean waters of Maine, Greg Lewandowski began scuba diving at age 9, running boats, and developing a strong love for being in the ocean at a young age. Today he takes us through his stories of living and working across the Caribbean, running scuba diving charters, fishing, and freediving on the Hawaiian Island of Kauai, his artistic approach to photography, and memorable moments with whales, sharks, manta rays, monk seals, and much more. You can find Greg on Instagram by his handle @seafeverh2o. And we can all cut way down on our plastic usage to help protect the environment and some of our favorite ocean animals we hear about today.

More highlights of our conversation:

  • First experienced tropical water at age 15 in Honduras setting him on a path of travel throughout the Caribbean serving as scuba divemaster and instructor before landing on the south shore of Kauai where Greg lives today.
  • Shares perspective on the spirit of Kauai and the ability for the island to either accept or reject people who move there.
  • Greg talks about running scuba tours for Fathom Five Divers, the amazing diving in the water around Niihau and the animals found there.
  • Most memorable experience underwater floating eye-to-eye with a juvenile hump back whale in the Turks and Caicos Islands
  • Spending time in the water with Hawaiian Monk Seal, local sharks, mantas, spinner dolphins
  • Operating tour boats in the unpredictable waters of Kauai
  • Fishing for the pelagic game fish in the Hawaiian waters — tunas, ono
  • Artistry that goes into making lures from scratch
  • Photography, favorite photo of a model on the beach just before a wave breaks around her
  • Evolution of freediving as another way to interact in the ocean
  • The abstract nature of bodybuilding relative to diving and being in the ocean (hint, wetsuits don’t fit so well but you need less weight to dive 🙂

Thanks for sharing Greg’s ocean life with us. Be sure to check him out on Instagram .

This Ocean Life Podcast Greg Lewandowski

Episode 93: Cooper Family Part 2

Cooper Family -- Sailing the South Pacific (Pt 2)

In episode 93 we check in with Brian and Robyn Cooper, a family from Santa Cruz, CA who, with their 2 daughters, left it all behind 9 months prior to live a dream of sailing in the South Pacific. Brian and Robyn describe their first few months of learning their sailboat Renegade, the ins and outs of sailing among the islands and reefs of Fiji, and developing confidence in their sailing capabilities. The Coopers share perspective on traveling in the outer Fijian Islands, surfing incredible waves, diving, fishing, boat-schooling the kids, and spending time in many local villages where they’ve learned and embraced the Fijian culture. We hear of how the family is adapting to life afloat and how their daughters, ages 9 and 12, are growing and changing as result of spending tons of time in the ocean and interacting with the Fijian culture. Brian and Robyn talk about the next major part of their trip which takes them over a 10-day passage to New Zealand then over to Indonesia and other epic parts of the South Pacific.

 

Thanks for sharing Brian and Robyn’s ocean life with us. Be sure to check out photos and videos of them on Instagram, their website SailingWithRenegade.com.

This Ocean Life Podcast Cooper Family

Episode 90: Tyler Conroy

Tyler Conroy -- foiling, surfing, Mavericks, water rescue

In episode 90 I speak with a friend and local hero of mine, Tyler Conroy, who has built a well rounded ocean life for himself in Santa Cruz, CA. Tyler shares his stories of learning to surf as a young teen and moving quickly into some of the heavier Northern California water, his time in Jr Lifeguards, and transition into surfing big waves. We hear of Tyler’s first session at Mavericks, some of the local legends who coached him into his first waves, and surfing Mavs with his group of close friends and wife, Savannah. Tyler talks about the lineup at Mavericks, working jet ski rescue in big waves, his breath hold training, love for spearfishing, and progression on the foil (and challenges of the sport here in cold, kelpy, Santa Cruz). 

 

Thanks for sharing Tyler’s ocean life with us. Be sure to check out photos and videos of Tyler on Instagram. 

This Ocean Life Podcast Tyler Conroy Mavericks

Episode 89: Luke Adolfson

Luke Adolfson -- surfing, travel, Jaws, helping Maui youth

In episode 89 I speak with Luke Adolfson, a surfer and diver focusing his energy into pursuing happiness in the waters of Maui. Luke shares stories of surfing on Maui, surfing local WQS contests, and his time over the past years pushing himself at Peahi (Jaws). We hear of Luke’s world travel surfing Indo, South Africa, and more with time spent helping those less fortunate with missionary work to Uganda. Luke shares his perspective on the youth of Maui today and the energy he and others in the community are putting into helping the kids stay focused on their goals in life and finding happiness on that beautiful island. Luke and I replay a recent story of a close call with a boat when spearfishing together off of Napili and hear of Luke’s pursuit of breath holding and apnea training.

 

Thanks for sharing Luke’s ocean life with us. Be sure to check out photos and videos of Luke on Instagram.

This Ocean Life Podcast Luke Adolfson
This Ocean Life Podcast Luke Adolfson

Episode 88: Bobby Twitchell

Bobby Twitchell -- Maui life underwater, spearfishing, freediving, sustainability

In Episode 88 I sit down with Bobby Twitchell, a man born and bred in the waters of West Maui. Bobby shares stories of fishing and spearing from the age of 4 through today where he runs Maui Spearfishing Academy, a thriving local business introducing people to free diving and spearfishing with a major focus on education and sustainability. We hear stories of Bobby teaching himself the ways of hunting underwater and the continual progression of his free diving education and skill. Bobby shares his perspective on college life in Arizona then returning to Maui and building his business, stories of pursuing big fish and dealing with sharks and other natural challenges in the waters of Maui, and what Bobby’s familiarity with the local reefs and fish of Maui means to him. We hear of Bobby’s formal freedive training and his natural breath holding ability (which I am admittedly envious of) and his great perspective on competitive freediving versus doing it for the love of the hunt. And we open up by recounting a tale of Bobby and I being way to close to the path of a speeding boat during a dive on the Napili coast 🙂

 

Thanks for sharing Bobby’s ocean life with us. Be sure to check out photos and videos of Bobby on Instagram and his Maui Spearfishing Academy website.

This Ocean LIfe Podcast Bobby Twitchell

Episode 75: David Ochoa – Part 2

David Ochoa Part 2 -- spearfishing guide, Indo, Madagascar, Mexico, filming underwater

In Episode 75 we connect back with David Ochoa, one of my favorite spearos on the planet, and hear stories from the past six months of guiding and filming spearfishing trips around the world. David takes through his time scouting and leading spearfishing trips in Madagascar, Mexico, Azores, Panama, and Indonesia. David describes his version of fish paradise in Indo, sharing stories of huge fish and pristine waters. We hear stories of New Zealand and of David’s massive kingie / yellowtail wrapping up at 40 meters deep and the group effort to bring the fish back to the boat. David talks about his recent film, Agua Negra, The Movie (which I love) and connecting with Red Bull to film their events. As always, David provides an amazing perspective on maintaining respect for the ocean, the fish we take, and the people we visit in our travels.

Thanks for sharing David’s ocean life with us. Be sure to check out Agua Negra on Vimeo and amazing photos and videos of David on Instagram. You can hear David’s Part 1 episode here.

This Ocean Life Podcast David Ochoa

Episode 74: Ryan Levinson – Pt 2

Ryan Levinson Part 2 - muscular dystrophy at sea, living afloat in French Polynesia, rediscovering the bodyboard

In Episode 74 we check back in Ryan Levinson, a hard charging man of the water living with Muscular Dystrophy in the waters of French Polynesia. Ryan recaps the past 6 months living on a sail catamaran in Tahitian waters with wife Nicole. We hear of them making the move to their new catamaran after being passed by that boat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean en route from Mexico and the learning curve to life on a new, larger boat. Ryan shares the day to day routine of life in the Tahitian Islands, scuba diving, kite boarding, sailing, and the relationships they’ve made with other cruisers. Ryan shares perspective on riding waves with the bodyboard in the heavy Tahitian surf as his continued loss of muscle makes it more and more challenging to ride waves. We hear about a perfect paradise island that he and Nicole have found with incredible surf and amazing local people (which Ryan is keeping secret — I’m going to get it out of him :)).

Thanks for sharing Ryan’s ocean life with us. You can find pictures and video of Ryan and Nicole on their Facebook page, Instagram page and epic YouTube Channel, Two Afloat.

Please also check out the adaptive sports organizations that Ryan works with:

https://www.challengedathletes.org

https://stokeforlife.org/

This Ocean Life Podcast Ryan Levinson

Episode 68: Alo Slebir

Alo Slebir - charging Mavericks at age 17, board paddling, spearfishing

In episode 68 we visit with Alo Slebir, a 17-year old man born and bred for the water who is up for a WSL Big Wave Paddle Award for the 2018/19 winter. Alo takes us through his progression surfing big Steamer Lane before finding his passion for the waves at Mavericks at age 14, the mentors who inspired and guided him, along with his perspective on that wave and the changes he’s seen in the lineup over a few short years. Alo shares stories of being addicted to the Powerlines videos of Mavericks as a young kid, competitive surfing in the local Santa Cruz scholastic league, his love for downwind prone paddling (just like dear old dad), and recent love for freediving and spearfishing. We also hear stories of surf trips to Mainland Mexico and a recent, epic trip to Iceland. Plenty to be inspired by from this young man of the water.

Thanks for sharing Alo’s ocean life with us. You can find pictures and video of him on his Instagram page.

This Ocean Life Podcast Alo Slebir

Episode 67: Dan Semrad

Dan Semrad - Oregon freediving, spearfishing, training others

In Episode 67 we speak with Dan Semrad, founder of Oregon Freediving Company and life-long man of the water. Dan takes us through his evolution from scuba diving into freediving sharing stories on the people and places along the way such as Honduras, Grand Cayman, Hawaii, and more. Dan shares his perspective on training others through his work with PFI and NAUI while pushing his own breath hold limits. We hear of underwater blackouts and rescues while diving and hunting fish in the dark waters of the Oregon coast and adventures in Alaska with Dan’s thoughts on learning techniques to pursue new types of fish and enjoying the overall pursuit.

Thanks for sharing Dan’s ocean life with us. You can find pictures and video of Dan on his Instagram page and website – if you’re interested in freedive training definitely hit him up.

This Ocean Life Podcast Dan Semrad