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Work and Play

Dr. Claire Paris-Limouzy uses the PADI Freediver program in both her personal research projects as well as for the students she teaches.

Although a lifelong snorkeler and skin diver, Dr. Claire Paris-Limouzy (FI – 449385) only received formal training in freediving when she completed a sanctioned course in 2008. A few years later, and after spending some time training with renowned world champion William Trubridge in the Bahamas, Dr. Paris began to actively compete in freediving, joining Team USA and ultimately going on to break four USA National Records. She remains ranked among the top 20 women in the sport, and became a PADI Freediver Instructor in early 2020.

A Professor of Ocean Sciences at University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (RSMAS), Dr. Paris and her husband Ricardo Paris (PADI Master Freediver Instructor and OWSI – 276974), who is also a lecturer at RSMAS, co-developed and co-teach the first and only academic credit Scientific Freediving course designed to prepare scientists to safely use freediving for research. It was on a research project in Belize that Dr. Paris experienced logistical challenges to deploy the Drifting in Situ Chamber (DISC), a field instrument employed to track the swimming behavior of the early life history stages of marine organisms and detect the signals they use to orient and navigate; Dr. Paris and a fellow researcher, also trained in freediving, realized they could deploy the instrument much easier and faster while freediving. “That’s when I made the connection that freediving could be so much more than just a sport for me, that it could actually help my work,” she says. 

Now, freediving is used in a multitude of applications in both her personal research projects as well as for those of her students. Scientists trained by Dr. Paris as PADI® Freedivers and in her Scientific Freediver PADI Distinctive Specialty use their skills for surveying both large and small areas quickly and efficiently, tagging pelagic species such as whales and sharks while reducing potential stress to the animals, and conducting sampling efforts within the water column (to name just a few), all without the expense and logistical complexity that using scuba diving for those procedures would entail.

For Dr. Paris, using the PADI Freediver Program as part of her accredited Scientific Freediving course in a way closes the circle that began with her receiving a grant from the PADI Foundation in 2005 that helped her develop the DISC.

Article originally published in the second quarter 2021 issue of The Undersea Journal. Written by Eric Albinsson, Instructor Development Program Specialist. Photo credits: Ricardo Paris.

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