Prawno Ambassadors are inspirational folks engaged in ocean activity and conservation. Whether it's through the spread of marine awareness or aquatic sportsmanship, Ambassadors are leaders in local ocean advocacy and embody a lifestyle that promotes the health of our seas.
Mehgan Heaney-Grier is a life-long adventurer whose drive and passion for the ocean helped her establish the first U.S. freedive record for both men and women in the constant weight category in 1996, with a dive to 155 feet on a single breath of air. Less than one year later she bettered that record with a dive to 165 feet.
Mehgan is an accomplished athlete, stunt diver, television personality, and marine conservationist. She’s also a mom, an original inductee into the Women Diver’s Hall of Fame, and a strong female figure and a positive role model for young women around the world. She has been featured in publications worldwide such as Life, People, and Outside Magazine, and has starred in and appeared on hundreds of television shows.
Hollywood films such as Pirates of the Caribbean and Into the Blue have utilized Mehgan’s underwater expertise to perform difficult underwater stunts for leading ladies such as Keira Knightly, Jessica Alba, and Olivia Wilde. In 2015 Mehgan was hired onto an elite team of explorers for the Discovery Channel series, Treasure Quest, working as Divemaster and Anthropologist in search of lost Incan gold in the waters of South America.
Through mentoring and her work with a variety of nonprofit organizations, Mehgan is dedicated to doing what she can to be "part of the solution” when it comes to raising awareness about issues such as the critical health and future of the world’s oceans.
Follow Mehgan on Facebook / Instagram / Twitter @mehganheaneygrier
Ashley & Ren Chapman
North Carolina natives, Ashley and Ren Chapman, are undoubtedly leaving their marks on the world of competitive freediving. They took interest in the sport in 2008 as a means of spearfishing the North Carolina waters.
Years of competitive experience have culminated in 3 world records and 12 national records for Ashley. Ren is an experienced safety diver for various international freediving competitions including PFI’s Deja Blue and has acted as Chief of safety for Suunto’s Vertical Blue, Caribbean Cup, The Big Blue and the Bonaire Deepsea Challenge. Ren also boasts the position as coach to his world record holding wife.
The couple not only freedives throughout the Atlantic and Caribbean waters but live aboard their sailboat. The 40' Searunner takes the Chapmans and their daughter Ani (also a freediver) to idyllic locations around the world.
Follow the Chapmans on Twitter/Instagram @evolvefreediving
From an early age, Liz Parkinson has been a global citizen. Born in the UK, she spent many of her formative years traveling and living all over the world. After a long competitive swimming career, Liz discovered a natural affinity for scuba diving and freediving. Combining her love of the ocean with her athletic aptitude, she currently lives in the Bahamas where she works in underwater film and stunt production, and also teaches both scuba and freediving.
But after years of working with marine life in the Bahamas, Liz's real passion has morphed into using her freediving skills to bring attention to the ever growing marine and conservation issues, specifically issues pertaining to sharks.
Last year Liz contributed to the development of the new PADI Freediving program. She also represents and raises money for several nonprofit organizations geared towards educating youth about the importance of sharks in our underwater ecosystems.
Follow Liz on Instagram: @lizparkinson1
Jillian Morris is a shark conservationist, award winning photographer, videographer and marine biologist. She was born and raised in Maine and after graduating with a degree in Behavioral Biology from The University of New England, she began traveling the world to work with sharks. Jillian worked as a research assistant and shark dive guide in the Florida Keys, The Bahamas and Australia before moving to California to teach underwater photo and video. Combining her science background with her passion for photography, Jillian joined the conservation media group OceanicAllstars. As Executive Director, Jillian has filmed for the BBC, National Geographic, Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and many other networks.
In 2012 she founded Sharks4Kids, Inc., a nonprofit focused on creating the next generation of shark advocates through education, outreach and adventure. Through this program Jillian is working to share shark education and conservation with students across the world. She also published her first children’s book called Norman the Nurse Shark in June 2016. She is currently based on the island of South Bimini with her husband Duncan Brake and adopted pit bull Lusca.
Follow Jillian on Instagram: @BiminiSharkGirl @SharkEducation Follow Jillian on Twitter: @BiminiSharkGirl @OceanicAllstars @Sharks4kids
Duncan Brake is an Emmy nominated cinematographer who has traveled, photographed and filmed, extensively throughout the world. From fighting bull elephant seals on the Antarctic Island of South Georgia to four meter tiger sharks in the crystal blue waters off Grand Bahama, Duncan has filmed some epic action. After graduating in Marine Biology from Stirling University in Scotland, Duncan braved the elements of the South Atlantic for 3 years working from the Falkland Islands down to Antarctica as a marine biologist and freelance cameraman. Duncan then defrosted by venturing up to work as the Media Operations manager and assistant lab manager for the world renowned Bimini Biological Field Station where he gained thousands of hours of experience in the water working with, photographing and filming sharks in their natural habitats.
After spending over two and a half years at the Shark Lab, Duncan started working full time as a freelance camera operator and has shot for The BBC, CBBC, Discovery, National Geographic, Animal Planet, Discovery Canada, ITV and many more. He is the founder of conservation media company OceanicAllstars and the media director for Sharks4Kids. He currently lives on the island of South Bimini with is wife Jillian and their adopted island pit bull Lusca.
Follow Duncan on Instagram: @Duncan_Brake
Freediving Specialist; 2x National Freediving Record Holder; PFI Instructor Trainer
Shell began freediving when she moved to Oahu in 2009 to attend University of Hawaii at Manoa. From daily ocean swimming she developed a deep respect for marine life and oceanography. Her first freediving job was as an underwater photographer. Interested in improving her breath holding skills, she began training with Performance Freediving International in 2012. Since that time, Shell trained through her advanced freediving and professional certifications, ultimately achieving her PFI Instructor Trainer qualifications. She now teaches all levels of freediving from snorkeling and freediving to 200 feet, to how to survive a big wave wipeout! Sharing how to freedive safely and improve one’s skill is Shell’s passion.
Shell is also an advocate for environmental conservation and responsible fishing practices. She participated as a freediver in the Oceanic Preservation Society’s powerful documentary Racing Extinction. Additionally, she has used freediving for reef cleanups, invasive algae roundup, and data collection on reef transects.
In 2013 Shell began freediving competitively. She’s since broken two USA National Freediving Records in the discipline of Dynamic Apnea No-Fins (DNF). Her primary focus now is as a freediving coach for certified freedivers. She plans to continue competitively freediving, concentrating mostly on depth disciplines in 2017.
Born and raised in central Florida, Ashleigh spent her childhood years criss-crossing the state with her family in search of beaches, islands and fresh water springs to play in. Despite her lifelong love of the water, it wasn't until 2009 that she discovered the sport of freediving. After a series of courses, she was blown away by all she learned and how much she improved: “I was hooked.”
Ashleigh most recently competed in the 2014 Freediving World Championships in Sardinia, Italy. “It was a huge honor to be a part of the US National Freediving Team, and right now I am training to grow as an athlete with the hopes of attending Team World's in 2016.”
Currently living in Miami, she balances her time working at an architecture firm, training for the next season of competitions, and building up her craft as a jewelry maker.
Follow Ashleigh on Instagram @__ashleighb__
A Florida Native who was raised in the beautiful waters of South Florida, Forrest grew up a student to Mother Ocean learning to preserve, protect and respect her amazing resources all while enjoying the incredible opportunities she provided. Freediving is, and has always been Forrest's passion. Between freedive safety advocacy, freedive events, teaching coursesand spreading the freedive " gospel," Forrest's life and passions are immersed in the freedive community. Along with his apnea related activities that he has going on locally, Forrest is also a member of the USA competitive team .
When asked about being a Prawno Ambassador, Forrest responded, "I'm incredibly excited to be part of such a stellar brand / all star group of folks, from all levels. Prawno and its ambassadors represent everything I love and am passionate about: ocean awareness, great people, positive vibes, outstanding products, and a name I am proud to represent and work with to Spread the Gospel!!
Follow Forrest on Instagram: go_native_freediving
Kyle was born and raised in Hawaii, on the island of O'ahu. Growing up along Kailua Beach, he fostered a deep-seeded love and respect for the water. In 2012, during his senior year of high school, Kyle attended the AIDA Freediving World Championships as a member of the US national team. In 2014, he once again competed at Worlds, but this time as the Men's Team Captain of Team USA. In the interlude between the two competitions, Kyle set two consecutive US national records in Dynamic Apnea, becoming the youngest American record holder. When he is not competing, he studies Biochemical Engineering at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.
Follow Kyle on Instagram @whatwouldkyledo
Fellow North Carolinian Kerry Hollowell became AIDA’s number one ranked female diver in the US in 2013, after diving for just a little over 2 years. That year, she posted the deepest numbers in constant weight and free immersion, and tied for no fins. She also had the longest breath-hold with a five min thirty two second static apnea.
In 2014, she became the captain of the US National Women’s team, leading the team to compete at the World Championships in Sardinia, Italy. If it sounds like Kerry moves fast, it’s because she has to. She’s also a doctor specializing in emergency medicine, and at times, the two jobs have intersected.
In typical selfless fashion, she gave up her spot as a competitor in the 2014 Caribbean Cup to become the competition doctor, which allowed the event to continue. After the tragic loss of her friend and fellow freediver Nic Mevoli at another competition that year, she was inspired to become involved with improving the safety of freediving competitions. She is currently developing an advanced training program to teach Advanced Cardiac Life Support skills tailored to competitive freediving scenarios.
Follow Kerry on Instagram @apneadoc
Elina has always been an observer, the one who loves to look at people. She loves to ‘see’ people, the way they really are, the fun kids have, the love families share. It makes her happy and she loves being able to give those beautiful memories back to her clients. Her travels have opened her eyes to the beauty in natural, every day moments, and to see the changes in light in different parts of the world. This is what she strives for in her work.
If Elina is not somewhere in the world making a documentary project with her sister, Johanna Nordblad, she spends her time photographing children, families, child fashion and advertising. She makes beautiful lifestyle images that are full of life, emotion, natural light and stories.
Elina is based in Helsinki, Finland.
Check out Elina's work on her website: www.elinamanninen.com and follow her on Instagram @elinamanninen
Much like her sister Elina, Johanna is a creative. She loves to draw, paint, make up stories and even create functional user interfaces, which can be rather frustrating and never ending. She enjoys developing magazines layouts, coding websites and designing games. She always carries a pencil, a sketchbook and a couple of marker pens. Johanna has worked in digital media, printing products, and as a graphic designer in child & family marketing. She's also been a producer, art director and creative director since 1997, with responsibilities ranging from drawing small furry creatures to being in charge of creating big concepts, projects and managing staff.
You can see some of Johanna's creations, such as Onni Orava at S Group, Werneri rabbit at Hiihtokeskus or Helppi at Visit Helsinki.
In her free time, Johanna freedives, rides motocross or downhill bikes, snowboards and kayaks among other activities. At times she freedives for records (she has held one World Record and has won several medals in the Freediving World Championships).
Johanna's latest record is swimming under ice for 50 meters wearing only a swim suit!
Follow Johanna on Instagram: @johannanordblad
New Yorker and Real Estate Finance professional Bobby Kim discovered freediving in 2010 and took to it so much that he went on to get his instructor certification. Now, he spends much of his time teaching people to freedive in the NYC area and warm water destinations like the Caribbean, Mexico and Costa Rica. In fact, freediving kept Bobby busy enough that he traded in a successful expert level amateur motorcycle racing career for his new passion.
This spring he plans to spend more time in Costa Rica teaching freediving, enhancing his surfing skills and pursuing business interests related to his background in commercial real estate finance and asset management.
Though he travels to many exotic places, his favorite dive site is in the US: “I enjoy teaching in the cold and dark waters of the northeast, but my favorite site is Honaunau Bay in Kona, Hawaii. Diving on a line surrounded by spinner dolphins while hearing the sounds of whales singing in the distance is what keeps me going back whenever my schedule allows."
Follow Bobby on Instagram @bobbyckim
A New England girl born and raised in Coastal Maine, Mandy moved to the Island of O’ahu, Hawaii five years ago and is living out her diving dream in the warm Pacific waters. In her first year of freediving, she hit a personal goal of diving over 200 feet, won the 2014 Kona Paradise Freediving Competition and qualified for the 2014 US Freediving Team for the World Championships. Not a shabby start. Mandy says she finds "a unique balance of inner peace and personal challenge with freediving and I look forward to continuing to learn, grow, and excel in this amazing sport." When she’s not in the water training, Mandy is busy creating maps as a Geologist in O’ahu.
Follow Mandy on Instagram @swimuh
An ocean loving Australian, Jacque was born and raised in Melbourne Australia, and has since been in constant pursuit of adventures both above and below the ocean surface.
Jacque is a recreational and technical scuba diving instructor, and environmental engineer, with a passion for exploring the marine environment. A desire to discover a deeper connection with the underwater world recently drew her to start freediving training in Gili Trawangan.
After many years of scuba diving around Asia and the Pacific, Jacque spent two years sailing and diving the oceans of Asia on her small yacht, before moving to her most recent assignment as the Station Leader of a Sub-Antarctic Research Station, with the Australian Antarctic Division, on Macquarie Island in the Southern Ocean.
Whilst leading the Station on Macquarie Island, Jacque assisted in marine debris clean-ups of the islands remote coastlines, assisted in research of several sub-Antarctic marine species including elephant seals and sea birds such as the threatened Northern Giant Petrels, and had the rare privilege of experiencing the wild Southern Ocean in the sub-Antarctic latitudes, for an entire year.
Having stepped off an icebreaker mid last year, Jacque plans to continue her involvement in promoting marine debris and ocean pollution awareness until she heads back to Antarctica this year!
A frequent collaborator of our creative director, Lia Barrett, Adam Skolnick has written for the New York Times, Playboy, Outside, ESPN.com, BBC.com, Salon.com, Men’s Health,Wired, and Travel + Leisure, among others, and is the author of the critically acclaimed narrative non-fiction book, ONE BREATH: Freediving, Death, and the quest to shatter human limits.
Follow Adam on Twitter and Instagram: @adamskolnick
Born and raised in Canada, Jana moved to Australia where she has been been embracing the endless summer for the past ten years. From a decade of immersion in coastal lifestyle, she has fostered a deep love and respect for the ocean and marine life, which has culminated in the co-creation of a nonprofit organization called HeartsforSharks Australia.
Jana Has worked as an underwater photographer in Thailand and Australia and continues to work seasonally with whale sharks on the remote and pristine Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia. She is a frother, a divemaster and a master freediver. She regularly visits Freedive Gili in Indonesia to train, and is looking to become an instructor later this year.
You can follow Jana on Instagram: SoulandSea_photography