For over two decades, Kirk Krack has developed education and certification programs with one goal. This is to improve safety in freediving. Through his leadership and participation in various projects, Kirk has contributed to the advancement of the scientific study of hypoxic effects on the human body and to the conservation of our oceans and its creatures. In 2016, in recognition of his sustained and valuable contributions, he was named the Diver’s Alert Network (DAN)/Rolex Diver of the Year.
Kirk always had an affinity for the water. He became scuba certified at 15 and, within four years, he owned and operated the first of several dive shops across the world. By age 20, Kirk had progressed through the instructor ranks of recreational scuba and become a devoted technical diving enthusiast, progressing to the level of instructor trainer.
While teaching tech diving out of his dive shop on Grand Cayman (and diving deeper with tanks than all but a handful of humans on the planet), Kirk became enthralled by freediving. Kirk’s knowledge of water-related physics and physiology that had been honed through his scuba and tech diving career. With a motivation to test himself and explore human potential, Kirk trained athletes in competitive freediving. At the time, freediving was known mainly in Mediterranean Europe.
Kirk has trained seven athletes to 23 world records and dozens more to hundreds of national records. Chief among these is Kirk’s wife, Mandy-Rae Krack. Kirk trained and coached Mandy-Rae to seven world records and 13 Canadian records. Never one to rest on his success, Kirk continued to distill the knowledge he gained by testing techniques, refining the process, and improving his methods.
In January 2000, Kirk formed Performance Freediving International (PFI) to create and implement freediving safety and training standards. PFI is the second oldest freedive-specific training and certification agency in the world. It is the oldest in the Western Hemisphere.
Through its over 100 highly trained and rigorously qualified and insured instructors, PFI has trained and certified over 10,000 freedivers. With PFI’s intense focus on safety and problem prevention and management, these courses have saved countless lives and contributed to generations of divers who respect and protect our oceans. Under Kirk’s leadership, PFI instructors offered recreational and professional level courses ranging from Snorkeler to Advanced Instructor Trainer at locations worldwide.
Kirk used the body of knowledge he gained from over two decades of teaching and training freedivers to develop specialized training programs. These allow athletes and other specific groups to gain the benefits of breath-hold training.
Kirk developed the first Breath-Hold Surf Survival (BHSS) course. This trains the world’s top big-wave surfers to survive violent “hold downs.” These occur when surfers become trapped for long periods underwater beneath mountainous waves.
Top sponsors like Oakley and Red Bull send their athletes through Kirk’s BHSS program. He has trained world-class athletes ranging from Olympic downhill skiers to motocross riders to endurance racers.
Through Kirk’s training, these athletes not only realize distinct physiological benefits and adaptations, but they also develop the mental strength and focus. This allows them to withstand the intense discomfort brought on by minutes of activity performed without breathing.
The success of Kirk’s BHSS program led to developing other programs for professionals. Specifically those who must perform under extreme duress on a single breath.
Kirk developed PFI’s Breath-Hold Special Operations (BHSO) program to train elite military special operations team members. It focuses on the techniques and mental fortitude skills required to withstand minutes underwater on a single breath. This is while the body is in a state of high metabolism and distress.
This training is invaluable for civilian and military personnel such as:
- Swift water rescue teams
- Search and rescue teams
- Military special forces operators
These are individuals for whom surfacing to take a breath may not be an option. Today, Kirk develops programs for the Special Forces Operators of three nations’ militaries: the USA, Canada and Great Britain.
In 2016, Kirk and his PFI instructors developed the first ever freedive training course for individuals with disabilities. That same year, Kirk developed safety protocols for Technical Freediving. This involves the use of mixed gases to prolong breath-hold, reduce fatigue, and speed recovery.
In January 2017, Kirk led the first ever freedive expedition to explore the sunken World War II shipwrecks of the Truk Lagoon in Micronesia. This combined technical freediving with underwater dive propulsion vehicles (DPVs) to achieve breath-hold dives of greater than six minutes.
For over ten years, Kirk has hosted an international freediving competition known as Deja Blue in the Cayman Islands. Kirk has pioneered the development and use of multiple redundant safety systems including
- Deep sea rebreather divers
- Highly trained safety freedivers on breath-hold
- Tom Cruise and Rebecca Ferguson for their underwater roles in the blockbuster feature film Mission: Impossible–Rogue Nation
- Margot Robbie and her stunt double for their underwater roles in Suicide Squad (in which Kirk also served as a credited on-screen stunt double for Batman)
- Endurance performer and illusionist David Blaine for his world record breath-hold attempts live on the Oprah Winfrey Show (he survived over 17 minutes on a single breath of oxygen-enriched air)
- Tiger Woods, Lindsey Vonn, and Woody Harrelson.
- Oceanic Preservation Society’s Racing Extinction (2015)
- GoPro’s Whale Fantasia (2013)
- PFI’s Defending the Vandenberg (2011)
- Waterborn’s Wreckage and subsequent shorts beginning in 2014.
- Open water scuba certified since 1984
- PADI Master professional scuba instructor since 1988
- Nitrox and technical certifications since 1992
- Founded and operated the second International Association of Nitrox and Technical Diving (IANTD) facility in Canada in 1993
- Appointed Director of IANTD Canada in 1994
- Founder and operator of Dive Tech, the first technical diving center in the Cayman Islands, which opened in the late 90s
- IANTD/TDI Trimix Instructor Trainer certified in 1997
- IANTD/TDI Rebreather Instructor Trainer certified
- 15 mixed-gas dives to depths over 150 m/500 ft
- Logged over 1,800 scuba dives
- Director of Safety for legendary freediver Pipin Ferreras’s “Cayman Challenge” no-limits event in 1997, which involved deep safety and videographers at 120 m/400 ft
- Trained and coached Tanya Streeter and Brett LeMaster to one national record and one world record between 1997 and 1999
- Founded Performance Freediving International in January 2000 to develop safety and standardized education in the sport
- Founder and President of the Canadian Association of Freediving and Apnea (CAFA). As Team Captain for CAFA’s Team Canada, Kirk coached and managed the women’s team to two first place finishes and three third place finishes at AIDA (Association Internationale pour le Développement de l’Apnée) World Championships in Spain, France, Cyprus, Hawaii, Egypt, and Canada.
- Founding member of the United States Apnea Association (now United States Freediving Association) for which Kirk organized regional and national competitions.
- Primary organizer for the 4th AIDA Individual World Freediving Championships in Vancouver, Canada in 2004. Kirk pioneered the use, for the first time, of live bottom-to-surface cameras with underwater communications for the attending spectators.
- Member of the executive board of AIDA International, serving as Vice-President Americas from 2002-2005.
- AIDA International Judge qualified to judge AIDA sanctioned national and world record attempts.
- AIDA Level A Trainer and Five Star Trainer.
- Secured the first professional liability insurance for a freedive-specific training and certification organization in North America.
- Board of Advisors for org.
- Technical Advisor to Oceanic Safety System in developing their Freediver Recovery Vest.
- Formula Three Freediving (F3F) President and Founder.