Werner earns freediving, spearfishing recognition

Former Maui resident Kimi Werner, whose accomplishments include a U.S. Spear Fishing national championship, was made a member of the Hawaii Freediving and Spearfishing Wall of Fame earlier this month.

“When I was there, getting inducted, the most overwhelming feeling I had was just gratitude and humility,” the 33-year-old Werner said Thursday. “I was in a room just filled with other divers. It’s such a tight-knit community. There were so many other divers who I’ve become so close with and who have helped me in so many ways.”

Werner is the youngest member of the Wall, and the first female inductee.

The induction ceremony took place on Sept. 15 at Pinky’s Pupu Bar & Grill in Kailua, Oahu. Also honored were Oahu’s Hanalei Adric, a former International Underwater Spearfishing Association Men’s Athlete of the Year, and Mike Kawamoto of the Kawabanga’s Custom Spears company.

Werner, who grew up in Haiku and Makawao, and moved to Oahu when she was 18, won a national title in Rhode Island in 2008.

“That was probably the most special one. That was the first time I had gone diving outside of Hawaii,” she said.

Werner enters competitive events only occasionally, though she has been part of two International Pacific Cup-winning teams.

“Had I just focused on that, had I made competition my goal, it wouldn’t have been as rewarding. It was never about trophies. I got into diving because I wanted to put food on the table, and was really just into exploring.

“I decided to start diving more for food, and to go on a fun dive, to see how another culture dives or prepares fish.”

Last year on a recreational dive in the Gulf of Mexico, she speared an 84-pound ono, believed to be the largest ever caught by a female diver.

Earlier this year during a dive off the Mexican coast, Werner encountered and interacted with a great white shark, and video of the event quickly went viral, with postings on websites including and the Huffington Post.