Clinton Laurence

Clinton Laurence is the Principal Freediving Course Instructor of Freediving Gold Coast. He is an AIDA Master Freediving Instructor (the only Australian instructor at this higher level) and AIDA Judge (Level E) and has been teaching freediving for over 5 years. He believes that everybody who is comfortable in the water has the capacity to extend breath hold times, dive deeper and improve their quality of life through the sport of freediving. For him freediving is not about competition per se but more about overcoming personal limitations to achieve super relaxation of mind and body and applying these skills in our day to day life to better manage the pressure of modern living.

Clinton has always been interested in mind-body disciplines and this is reflected in his profession as a sport and clinical psychologist and prior pursuits of martial arts, in particular judo, karate and aikido where he has reached high degree black belts and competed at an international level.

Clinton brings a vast experience of physical and mental training to freediving. This is shown by:

  • A Bachelor of Human Movement Studies from the University of Queensland.
  • Joint First Class Honours in Psychology and Human Movement Studies from the University of Queensland.
  • Masters of Clinical Psychology from the Australian National University.
  • Consultant Psychologist to the Queensland Academy of Sport and the Australian Institute of Sport.
  • Full-time Lecturer for over 5 years at Griffith University School of Exercise Science teaching the subjects Exercise and Sport Behaviour, Sports Coaching, Exercise Assessment & Counselling, and the Psychology of Injury and Rehabilitation.
  • He now works in his private practice as a Clinical Psychologist at Parkside Medical on the Gold Coast and which is also the site for all freediving theory courses.

To have fun and safety on the water Clinton is also a qualified professional boat captain (Coxswains), a PADI EFR Instructor and a Pool Lifeguard. For a more comprehensive list of these qualifications click on 100% Safety Commitment.

For those people interested in the numbers, Clinton is one of the current top depth Australian divers. He has dived to 60 metres in Free Immersion and 62 metres in Constant Weight. This can be verified on the website of the world record keeping body AIDA International. Click on this link to be redirected to their website. If your instructor is not listed on this website they have never entered an international competition though it should be emphasised that all AIDA International instructors must be able to dive to a minimum depth of 40 metres using bifins to be certified.

Clinton diving to 62 metres in a constant weight dive in the Singapore Depth Competition 22nd September 2018.


Clinton showing the tag after a successful 62 metre constant weight dive in the Singapore Depth Competition 2018.

 

Cristy Gearon

Cristy Gearon is an AIDA Instructor, AIDA Judge and 1 of 5 members who have been assigned by the AIDA Board to act on the AIDA Youth Commission. She is our commercial skipper (Coxwains Grade 1– Near Coastal) and boat mechanic for our own purpose-built freediving vessel. Cristy’s previous commercial experience in boating has been on fishing charters and sailing vessels. She also was awarded the MED 3 award (Marine Engine Driver’s qualification from TAFE proving that she’s not only not afraid to get her hands dirty – she actually likes it. Cristy is the sole operator of an eco-tour she runs called ‘Water’Bout’ which celebrates the beauty, diversity and ecological significance of South Stradbroke Island’s ‘Jumpinpin’ in the Southern Moreton Bay Marine Park. She holds a Bachelor of Education and has 12 years teaching experience working in the Primary, Secondary and Tertiary settings including mainstream, behaviour units and the disability sector. When she’s not teaching freediving with Freediving Gold Coast or running her eco tour she’s teaching in local Gold Coast High School. She’s looking forward to the day that AIDA introduces freediving courses for children and their families so that families can grow as freedivers together. Cristy is 1 of only 4 female AIDA Instructors in Australia.

“Freediving has a simplicity about it and it gives you an honest awareness of who you are and where you’re at. Few experiences can be that raw but still enjoyable.” Cristy

Ben Noble

 

Ben Noble is a veteran of Australian freediving. His freediving career started like most, after watching the movie The Big Blue. Many years later on holiday in Fiji he happened upon an Australian freediver. By chance (or fate) they bumped into each other again back in Australia and started training together in Sydney. In 2005 Ben moved to the UK and started training with various clubs in London and also was a regular depth diver at Saltfree, a freshwater quarry on the Welsh border that was an icy cold 4 degrees at depth! It was here that Ben fine-tuned his depth diving and started to compete in 2006 in AIDA competitions around Europe and Egypt. In 2008 he became the first Australian to successfully complete the AIDA Instructor course and commenced teaching Australians how to freedive shortly after returning to Australian shores (in fact one of his students was a very keen and talented Mr Clinton Laurence!).

Ben has had a successful competitive career, some of the highlights include:

  • Representing Australia twice in Freediving World Championships (2006 Hurghada Egypt and 2007 Maribor Slovenia)
  • Winner, Australian Freediving Championships (Pool and Depth) 2010
  • Runner up, New Zealand Depth Championships 2013
  • 8th place, Vertical Blue World Cup Bahamas 2012
  • Winner, NZ Depth Championships 2012
  • 8th place, Mediterranean Freediving World Cup 2010
  • Winner, British Freediving Championships (no fins category) 2008
  • Six Australian Records in 3 depth disciplines, including breaking the 100m barrier in a No Limits dive to 105m in 2010

Ben Noble During No Limits Dive to 105m

 

Ben has kept incredibly busy out of the water over the years as well. Frustrated as a newbie to the sport and having no resources available in Australia, Ben set out early to gain as much knowledge and experience whilst overseas in order to bring it back to Australia and grow the sport. In 2006 he co-founded the Australian Freediving Association and was President of the AFA until 2014. During this time he organised and judged in Australia’s first ever AIDA competition, held in Sydney in 2009. He has also organised some of the largest competitions in Australia and, when judging has been the Head of Safety for Australia’s largest competition to date, the Pan Pacific Championships in 2015. He has also been on the Board of the British Freediving Association and was the Treasurer on the Executive Board for AIDA International from 2010-2014.

Ben has been an AIDA International competition judge for over 10 years and is Australia’s most experienced judge, having been fortunate to judge in many locations in Australia and around the world. Seeing the rising talent of Australia’s freedivers over the years has been a huge thrill for him and a sign that the sport is thriving here in Australia.

In recent years Ben has taken some time off teaching and competing following some injuries during a Tough Mudder event (he’s always maintained that he is terrible on land) and spending time with his young family. During this time he came to the conclusion that he missed teaching too much and missed seeing the buzz of new freedivers as a whole new underwater world opens up to them. That look a new freediver gives you when they realise they’ve just done something they only dreamed they could do – there’s nothing else like it!

Ben Ascending from the Blue Hole at Vertical Blue 2012

Grant Faber

Grant Faber is an Assistant Instructor with Freediving Gold Coast. He leads a typically busy modern life, juggling family and work commitments, while still making time to pursue his personal interests. With this perspective Grant understands there isn’t always time to get everything right, and that small victories and continuous progress add up over time.

For Grant, freediving provides an opportunity to still the mind, focus on the present, and build mental resilience. The biggest challenge Grant faces in freediving is shared by many, that is finding deep relaxation and understanding that the body is extremely capable, despite what the mind keeps saying.
“Freediving offers moments of calm and clarity among the storms of daily life.”
Grant is passionate about health and fitness, advocating consistent exercise with its proven long term benefits. As a result he is keenly interested in the role of nutrition and functional training on freediving performance, and their positive contributions to life outcomes in general.
Helping others achieve their own goals in a safe and enjoyable way drew Grant to the role of assistant instructor; while his training approach aligns well with the ethos of Freediving Gold Coast, making it a natural fit. Grant also hopes to one day work with the AIDA Youth Program, training young divers in safe water practices.
In addition to freediving you’ll find Grant training at his local CrossFit box, following the same philosophy of continuous personal improvement in a supportive and constructive environment. So if you find yourself training with Grant be sure he’ll work with you to achieve your best on the day, whatever that best means to you.
While Grant is competitive by nature and enjoys the thrill of improving his performance in the pool and depth disciplines, he also likes nothing more than cruising around a reef with family and friends, shooting poor quality video footage to share online and laugh about later.

Jono Maher

Jono Maher is an AIDA 4 Master Freediver and Assistant Instructor with Freediving Gold Coast. I am also a tradesman working a full-time job in Brisbane and am always keen to get out on the boat and in the water for a training session whenever possible.

I have a background in SCUBA with dives numbering in the hundreds, my Rescue Certification and am also an ADAS Level 3 Commercial Diver so you can see I love the ocean and being a part of it. =)

I transitioned over to Freediving after Jack Michael introduced me to it whilst we were on a trip to Mexico diving in the Cenotes there.

I absolutely love the sheer challenge involved with Freediving and whether it be starting off learning to dive those first few metres or mastering the finer advanced techniques to achieve the deeper depths I love the fact that there is always pleasure to be had with nailing the little steps along the way.

There is no end in Freediving and it really is about the journey.

Freediving to me has also become a large influencing factor in my life and has led to me being more aware about a lot of things ie Food, Fitness and daily choices.

Someone once said to me “SCUBA is about looking out and Freediving is about looking in” and I wholeheartedly agree with this sentiment.

With more awareness and making healthier decisions Freediving has led me to a more positive outlook and a more positive life in general.

I have begun to partake in competitive Freediving and am looking forward to setting new distances/times and bit by bit pitting myself against my past self.

I feel my future in Freediving is involved in the teaching side of it and I really enjoy the opportunity to pass on knowledge to any aspiring Freediver. The community is extremely helpful, and you can be but a question away from learning a new technique or finer nuance from any of the others involved in Freediving.

Jack Michael

Jack is an Assistant Instructor with Freediving Gold Coast, and 2 time New Zealand national record holder for the dynamic bi-fins pool discipline.  Jack was first introduced to freediving during a trip to the Gili Islands while putting off going home after an extended trip away in Africa and Eastern Europe, and was instantly hooked and rebooked his flights home to allow for more time diving.

Jack has a background as a competitive swimmer when he was younger, and has always loved the ocean and being in and around the water. When he moved to Brisbane, he got involved with Freedive Gold Coast for the deep dive days, and started pool training with the Brisbane Bullsharks. The competitive side of the pool training kept him motivated between ocean dives, and he then completed his AIDA 4 Assistant instructor qualification with Freedive Gold Coast in April 2019.

Jack loves freediving because it’s a sport that pushes you physically and mentally past what most people know their body is capable of, and requires you to really understand your own body and mind to be able to succeed. It is just as much about self restraint as it is about pushing yourself, and that’s pretty unique.

Jack loves to see new freedivers accomplish things that they never thought possible, whether it’s through a static breath hold they didn’t think was possible, or diving to a depth that seemed unreachable before, and is planning to do his instructor training early 2020.

Jack also loves that freediving makes it easier to swim around chasing fishies and swimming after turtles while listening to the whales sing. The ocean is a pretty amazing place.

 

Kerry Whitworth

I’m an Assistant Instructor (AIDA 4 Master Freediver certification) with Freediving Gold Coast. I had a strong interest and fascination with being underwater, from a young age, and I was introduced to spearfishing at the age of 14 where I grew up in Burnie Tasmania. Wet suits weren’t around then, 58 years ago, in 1961 so we shivered uncontrollably after each dive, and just accepted it, we didn’t know any different. I kept up spearfishing in Melbourne at Cape Schank from 1965 to 1969, before going to live in Vancouver Canada, where I did Scuba diving. I also did a Stuntman course and qualified in car chase, horse falls, saddle falls, western bar room fights, fast draw with Colt 45, and high falls from buildings. Had a few injuries, one quite scary.

After marrying Yvonne, the love of my life, I decided to come home and be a more ‘responsible ‘person and assume a normal lifestyle (lol). At age 33, while living in Melbourne, I got the running bug, and developed a love for distance swimming, my longest swim was 16 km. I competed in Australia’s first Triathlon in I980, and ran several marathons, best was 3 hrs and 58 seconds.

I moved to the Gold Coast in 1982, and pursued Triathlon until I got hit by cars twice, and suffered a broken hip from a bike accident. I decided to just focus on running and swimming. The bike had to go! I ran a lot of half marathons (PB 1:22) and a lot of 10Km runs (PB 44 mins).

I taught spearfishing to my 2 sons and still yearned for more breath hold knowledge. I met Sebastien Murat in 2006, and he gave me training, especially in FRC (Functional Residual Capacity). A few years later, I met Frank Gearon who encouraged me to hook up with Clint and Cristy, and as they say, the rest is history! I’m 72 and I run 50 km a week, and swim 3 days a week. I have completed Aida 2, 3, and 4. Ups and downs in my first two Freediving Comps were a STA 6 mins 10 seconds but a DNY DSQ SP.

Freediving to me is very relaxing (except when competing!). I feel very much ‘at home’ underwater, especially on exhale. I look forward to assisting students in pool and ocean training, as I like to encourage newer divers in this sport, and help them to enjoy it as much as I do. I retired from work 9 months ago, but not retired from passion in life!

Our Boat

Freediving Gold Coast’s vessel was purpose-built for doing exactly what we wanted to do – freediving. This centre console aluminium commercially registered vessel is a 5.2m Ocean Craft made from marine grade plate aluminium forming airtight and watertight tubing. This makes our vessel extremely stable and unbelievably buoyant (compared with other aluminium hulls). The length of our vessel is 5.2m but it’s her width that makes her special as, unlike other inflatables or rescue boats, her width allows for ease of movement around the sides of the boat and contributes to her overall stability. Her length, width, v shaped hull with her shallow draft let’s her move anywhere around the Broadwater with speed and manoeuverability. Basically, she’s a great freediving boat – and we love her.

Our open water freediving courses and fun days / open water freediving training days are within 3 nautical miles of shore (just under 6 kms offshore) with the Gold Coast Seaway providing safe access most of the year. The Gold Coast Seaway, the southern entrance to the Moreton Bay Marine Park, had the world’s first sand bypass system built in 1986 and was a credit to Dutch innovation. Without it, our Southport entrance to the sea would’ve continued creeping north anywhere between 4m – 60m per year (it’s called littoral drift). No way, I hear you say. Well, consider this, in the early 1800s, the entrance was opposite where Gold Coast’s Jupiters Casino now stands. In the 1930s, Pacific Ocean access was where Seaworld now is. (If you look across the carpark at the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre some of the old Seaway wall is still there – in recognition of the Southport’s changing landscape). With all that movement of sand it made her unpredictable and dangerous. Thanks to Dutch innovation our permanent sand bypass system helps to keep 500 000 cubic metres of sand shifting north of the entrance each year. Weather and sea-state permitting and with attention to the rising and ebb tides, there are few days in the year where we can’t safely cross the bar. We also use the boat to provide access to the Gold Coast’s Wavebreak Island and diving from the boat in 8 to 10 metres depth of water just off the north eastern part of the island. Wavebreak Island is exactly as the name says – a wave break. It was also constructed at the time of the seaway entrance. It’s become a local favourite spot –accessible by boat only and makes a great little dive spot for discovering and learning to freedive. Join one of our freediving courses today and discover just how much fun freediving on the Gold Coast can be. Our freediving school runs courses all year round – whether you prefer ‘winter & whales’ or ‘summer & suntan’ – it’s all relative.  The Gold Coast is perfect for freediving courses and our freediving school with it’s safest bar crossings, open water access, local knowledge and our 100% commitment to safety.

When entering the Gold Coast Seaway onboard our vessel – let your imagination drift to the abandoned Township of Moondarewa below us – the Gold Coast’s answer to a ‘Lost City of Atlantis’ – of which only sand now lies beneath. Abandoned due to cyclone in 1938 and lost entirely by the mid 1980s. Such it is when we build our castles in the the sand.