DAN Member Profile: Mandy-Rae Cruickshank

Age: 35
Hometown: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Years Diving: 20
Favorite Destination: Port Hardy, British Columbia, and Fiji
Why I’m a Member: “I appreciate the importance of DAN research, and I feel confident having DAN insurance.”

In the physically demanding sport of competitive freediving, DAN member Mandy-Rae Cruickshank is one of the best.

A certified diver since the age of 15, Cruickshank was working in Canada as a PADI Course Director and a DAN Instructor when her friend (now husband) Kirk Krack introduced her to freediving in 2000. In October of that year, she placed third in her first international competition. By September 2001 she claimed her first world record and a place in the ranks of the freediving elite.

In all, she holds 13 Canadian records and seven world records, and her roster of dive stats is impressive. Among her personal bests: a no-limits freedive to 446 ft (136 m), a static apnea time of 6 minutes and 25 seconds, and a constant-weight world-record dive to 289 ft (88 m) in 2 minutes and 48 seconds.

To stay in top form for competitive freediving, Cruickshank maintains a careful diet and does extensive cardio workouts as well as pool training to discipline her breathing. Because competitive freedivers routinely push the bounds of human endurance, she is always thinking about safety.

“Freediving can result in a blackout, but I don’t think of it as a dangerous sport,” she says. “During any record dive, we have very strict safety procedures and multiple safety backups in place, and we never loosen up on them. For example, competitive freedivers are attached via a wrist lanyard to the descent line at all times, and they are continually monitored by safety divers on rebreathers.”

In between scuba and freediving, Cruickshank supports environmental causes. Through the Oceanic Preservation Society she starred in the award-winning documentary The Cove, exposing the annual slaughter of dolphins in Japan. This year she received yet another distinction: induction into the Women Divers Hall of Fame.

Cruickshank still competes in international freediving competitions, but she also loves teaching. She is a Freediving Instructor Trainer with Performance Freediving International (PFI), and she incorporates DAN courses into PFI’s programs to help make divers safer.

“I love seeing people discover that they are able to hold their breath longer and dive way deeper than they ever dreamed they could,” she says. “It is so empowering! That is what freediving is all about — exploring your potential and exceeding your wildest dreams.”

© Alert Diver — Q4 Fall 2009