Kimi Werner

Kimi Werner
Wahiawa, Hawaii
Kimi grew up in tropical surroundings on Maui, where her father was a dedicated freediver. With a craving for the simple life, Kimi followed in her dad’s footsteps, winning a U.S. National Spearfishing Championship in 2008. She’s also an artist and accomplished chef. “The moment I took up freediving and spearfishing again,” she says, “I reconnected to the happiness of my childhood.”
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Kimi Werner

Photo: Jeff Johnson

Growing up on Maui, diving was a huge part of my childhood. It was my favorite way to spend time and bond with my dad. My parents practically raised my sister and I in the ocean and made sure that we knew how to swim before we could even walk. My earliest years were spent growing up in a small shack in Haiku, Maui, where my family raised a few farm animals and grew some fruits and vegetables. We were apparently very poor back then, but my sister and I never knew it. Life was magical. Living simply off of the land and ocean gave us our values.

My dad would go diving for fish, octopus and lobsters and tagging along with him was my absolute favorite pastime. He taught me to only take what we needed and my mom, who was always an excellent cook, taught me to never waste any part of any harvest. It felt like such a harmonious lifestyle. I remember later moving into a subdivision when my dad’s business got on its feet. It was nothing fancy but it was my first time living somewhere with paved roads and neighbors.

Everything slowly started to change after that. My parents got busier with work, as my sister and I became teenagers and got busier with school, friends and parties. It seemed like a very normal and healthy progression at the time but one day I looked up and realized that I was living a completely different life.

I was all grown up and out of college and had a culinary arts degree under my belt. I was living on my own on the island of Oahu, where life was fun and fast yet somehow didn’t feel complete. I bodyboarded and spent much of my free time in the ocean but something was still missing for me. With all of the conveniences of living in a city, it was easy to disconnect myself from nature and where my food actually comes from. I craved the simple life and set out to find it again. It saddened me when I realized that I didn’t even know how to spearfish on my own, since I was always just a tag-along. However through my canoe paddling club I found some guys to take me diving and teach me how to hunt for fish. It all came back very naturally and easily to me, since I had spent so many years in the water watching my dad.

The moment I took up freediving and spearfishing again, I reconnected to the happiness of my childhood. Returning to the depths of the ocean gave me a sense of peace and joy that I had missed so much. I realized it was one of the few times that I felt 100% in the present moment, undistracted by the usual noise in my head. It made me feel happier, healthier and more conscious and connected to the ocean, nature and life.

As my diving progressed, many great opportunities came my way. But more than anything, I appreciate the basics – that through freediving and spearfishing, I find happiness. It gives me joy and peace and fills me with wonder. Going diving feels like going home, and I hope to cherish it for the rest of my life.

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