Right, left to right: Ani takes in a
lighthouse view. Ren, Cape and
Ani snorkel a wreck. The Chapman
family in the Key West mooring
field. Below, left to right: Cape and
Ani eat aboard the boat. Ashley and
the kids play off the coast of SC as
the family travels from West Palm
Beach, to Wrightsville Beach. Ani
aboard Jade. Cape rests on board.
Cape swimming August 2018.
E AND A BUDDY went to Miami for a
four-day class. Ren worked up to a 4-minute
and 15-second breath hold, but the ocean
portion of the course was canceled because
of weather. The following spring they went
to the Cayman Islands with Ashley to complete the course.
“My buddy did 118 feet on a freedive. I did 121 feet.
And Ashley did 122 feet,” Ren says. “She was the deepest
person in the class. On her first freediving class, which is
Especially considering Ashley didn’t really want to do it.
“I’m eight years younger than Ren,” she says. “When we
were dating, I didn’t realize that I could say, ‘No, that’s a ter-rible
idea. I’m not jumping off the boat in the middle of the
ocean holding my breath.’ In the class I remember being really
intimidated because everyone had plenty of experience, and
had grown up on the water like Ren. I am also fairly competi-tive,
so I felt like quitting. But then I realized we had come a
long way, so I should just give it a try. And like Ren said, by
the end of it we killed it.”
So much so that at the end of the course an instructor told
Ashley she had a lot of natural talent and should train with
the U.S. team.
“I trained that summer, and that brought me from 122 feet
to 180 feet,” Ashley says. “I enjoyed the spearfishing and
all that stuff, but I really got addicted to the depth. How
While Ashley was beginning to see a future in competitive
freediving, Ren realized his business wasn’t growing. He had
survived the recession, but was just treading water.
“Money was coming in but I was spending it on maintain-ing
all this stuff I had,” he says.
Around Thanksgiving in 2010 — six years into the five-year
plan — Ren and Ashley went to Merritt Island, Florida,
and bought the boat.
“We motored it all the way back up to Wilmington,” Ren
says. “I took the engine apart and pulled it out of the boat.
I found another engine and put that in. We moved on it in
July, and by November we were leaving.”
The plan — to the extent there was a plan — included
competing and teaching. But they weren’t looking too far
beyond the horizon.
WBM january 2019