Then she swims along the surface scanning the bottom for fish or likely habitat. Once she sees something that looks promising, she'll start a long, slow dive. Usually she'll swim down 70 feet and hold her breath for 2 to 4 minutes, but sometimes she'll dive down 100 feet or more. The deepest Kimi has ever gone is 159 feet. The sport is called freediving because it's just you and the fish, no help from an air tank. Photo by: John Johnson.
Kimi Werner is a modern day renaissance woman. At 30 years old she’s a chef, model, artist and freedive spearfisher. What’s freedive spearfishing?
It’s like spot and stalk hunting with a bow, except you’re underwater. A typical outing with Kimi goes something like this: First she paddles out in a kayak, sometimes a few miles, to her hunting spot.
Then she swims along the surface scanning the bottom for fish or likely habitat. Once she sees something that looks promising, she’ll start a long, slow dive. Usually she’ll swim down 70 feet and hold her breath for 2 to 4 minutes, but sometimes she’ll dive down 100 feet or more. The deepest Kimi has ever gone is 159 feet. The sport is called freediving because it’s just you and the fish, no help from an air tank. Photo by: John Johnson
When she gets to the bottom, Kimi will find a large rock or hill to hide behind and wait for fish to swim into range. The trick is to stay calm and move slowly. “Once you find what you’re looking for you have to go slow … it’s a peaceful, nice feeling and you just want to be really relaxed,” Kimi says.
Getting into this zen-like state does two things: it helps you hold your breath longer and keeps the fish from getting spooky. Photo by: John Johnson
When the right fish swims into range Kimi takes her shot and then heads back up to the surface.
She spearfishes for the thrill of the hunt, to spend time with good friends, and of course, for the fresh seafood.
In 2008 Kimi won the national spearfishing tournament by sticking these two striped bass off the coast of Newport Rhode Island. The big guy on the left weighed 33 pounds.
Here’s Kimi with her spearing partner and mentor Andy Tamasese. “I’ve had so many great teachers along the way,” Kimi says.
Kimi got started spearfishing as a little girl with her dad. Growing up on Maui, her family didn’t have a lot of money, but her dad always kept them well-fed by spearfishing. Photo by: Sterling Kaya
Kimi would tag along on a boogie board and watch her dad dive. Photo: Serling Kaya
“[Spearfishing] became on of my favorite ways to spend time with my dad,” Kimi said. Eventually Kimi grew up and through the craziness of high school and college she fell out of spearfishing. When her life settled down she realized something was missing … it was time to get back into the sport. Photo by: John Johnson
Kimi made a good group of friends who took her out and taught her the ropes. She caught on quickly and when she won nationals in 2008, she had only been spearfishing for three years. Photo by: Sterling Kaya
Kimi doesn’t compete often anymore, but she still spearfishes all the time.
“I just appreciate diving for the reasons I got into it: to be in the ocean and to be with people I love,” she says. Photo by: Sterling Kaya
Photo by: John Johnson
A main part of the reason Kimi loves spearfishing is because she gets to eat her catch. “Catching your own food gives you so much more respect for the animal … you’re honoring the fish,” she says. Photo by: Sterling Kaya
Like anything in the ocean, freedive spearfishing involves a certain amount of risk. Rough waters, sharks and accidental blackouts are the main concerns. Of the three, blackouts are the most dangerous. If you blackout freediving by yourself, you’re dead and it happens to a handful of divers each year. Kimi suggests always diving with a partner.
“[When you’re diving with a partner] it’s more than just about hunting fish. youre watching each other’s backs and poking sharks off each other,” Kimi says.
“Any time you’re in the ocean there’s going to be a lot that’s out of your control,” she says.
This is Kimi’s favorite fish to hunt: the mu. She likes mu because they’re elusive and taste great.
Photo by: John Johnson
Photo by: John Johnson
Photo by: Sterling Kaya

Kimi Werner doesn’t need a rod to catch big fish, just give her a speargun and a pair of flippers.