October 31, 2018

Competitor Bios


My name is Donell Watson (pictured right) and I am from Kailua Kona Hawaii. I started to spearfish competitively in 2017 with my boyfriend Calvin (pictured left). My passion for the ocean started at a young age fishing, spearfishing and surfing. I am beyond thrilled to be representing not only the USA but also my home state Hawaii in this world competition. I would like to thank Cal for helping me with everything spearfishing, my #1 supporters my Kids (Aidan and kortney) and a Huge Mahalo to my friends, family and local supporters back home.


Aloha my name is Calvin lai from Kona Hawaii. I am born and raised on the islands and been spear fishing since I was 7 years old. I Learned how to spearfish by my grampa. Spear fishing is my therapy and it’s been a way of life for me to bring food to the table. As I got older, I enjoyed diving in competitions and it was a way to meet new people and travel the world.I can’t believe where it has lead me today I can’t see myself doing anything else. I love the sport and been competing since 1997. I’m so great full to have my girlfriend Donell on my team this year in the world championships. To all the competitors dive safe and have fun. Thanks to my sponsors….rob Allen, miester spear fishing gear. Hawaii fishing news. Sea horse. Sportube. Yamaha.

Ilie Bologan – Team Republic of Moldova

Has been diving for over 40 years. He has numerous memorable catches including a 32kg carp, 8kg walleye, a catfish over 100kg & 2.15m long, difficult catch was a 60kg catfish where he had to put his hand in its mouth as it was rolling around so much and difficult to subdue.
He has dived all through Europe, USA, Australia, Fiji, NZ, Guam, Russia, Ukraine


Several times ranked first in the Italian championship for underwater fishing and fresh water.
Experienced marine fisherman.
Expert sailor.
Beginner in underwater fishing


Age 66.
Underwater fisherman for 40 years, both at sea and in lakes.
President of the SOMMOZZATORI ALME’ club in Bergamo, Italy
Hello everyone! I’m Alberto. I come from Italy in the north of the country, near Garda Lake. I started very young to fishing and diving. But since I join the Tritone Sub Club I started to learn out to spearfish and I to do competitively in 2014.
I Love pizza, birra and shoot Chub!
My name is Cirillo Gallina and I come from a wonderful peninsula at Lake Garda called Sirmione. Since more than 30 years this sport took me completely, and filled the whole of my free time. I have the luck of having the biggest gym of Italy of 160 km2 right in front of home. I always participated to our national competitions of freshwater spearfishing with great satisfactions. It is wonderful where this sport has taken me today: I find myself for the first time representing Italy in a world championship. I’m very proud of that, and I’ll try to compete at the best of my capabilities. I hope it will be an occasion to improve and learn from the other participants. I thank the friends that involved me into participating and all the persons that dedicated their time to organize this championship. I wonder… will we maybe in the future all meet at Lake Garda?


USA Women’s Team #1

Anne Doherty and Brandi Easter

Rocky Mountain Catfish Cazadoras

Anne began spearfishing in Rhode Island in 1995, and she began competing nationally in 1998. Brandi and Anne competed on the Women’s team in the 2004 World Championships in Iquique, Chile.  She has competed in international meets in Norway and Mexico, as well as all local meets. She worked and dove as crew on a sea urchin boat in California, where the sunsets are endless, the water is clear and the ocean is beautiful.  Despite the lure of clear water, she loves the Rhode Island dirty water, and dives there every weekend seven months a year. You just never know when a monster striped bass might just pass by in front of you…such a thrill!  The magic of the ocean draws many adventurous and lovely people to it.

Brandi will be traveling from Northern California to participate in the 2nd Freshwater World Spearfishing Championship. She has been spearfishing – dinner to competition – for over 20 years locally and abroad. She has participated in numerous Central California Council of Dive Club and local spearfishing tournaments, USA National competitions, a World Cup in Mexico, several ‘Diving for A Cause trips’ and along with Anne, was on the first Women’s Team USA in Iquique, Chile 2004.  Throughout, she has strived to be positive role model for women in all aspects of the sport – sportsmanship, safety, advocacy, stewardship, appreciation, fun and more – and hopes to inspire more women to enjoy the adventures and wonderment that only freediving and spearfishing holds. She is honored to dive with Anne and represent the USA again.

Brandi and Anne are excited to finally be going to New Zealand, and are looking forward to meeting everyone, and having a blast!  Good luck and safe diving!



Ryan Peterson has been spearfishing for 7 years. He currently holds two IUSA world records. He is the president of a spearfishing group called Fresh Water Fish Slayers in Utah. His group encourages safe, fun, and lawful diving and is open to anyone. He is competing with his dive partner and wife of 4 years Shelby Peterson. Together they won 2nd place as a mixed team in the 2017 Freshwater Nationals in Nebraska and won 1st place in the 2018  Freshwater Nationals in Utah. They also placed 3rd as a mixed team at thefirst World Freshwater Spearfishing Championship in Las Vegas, NV in 2017z. Ryan is passionate about spearfishing and is always ready to get in the water and slay some fish

Shelby Peterson 
Women’s spearfishing champion & world record holder

Shelby Peterson has been spearfishing for  5 years. She currently holds 3 IUSA women’s world records. She dives with Ryan Peterson her dive partner and husband of 4 years. Together they won 2nd place as a mixed team in the 2017 Freshwater Nationals in Nebraska and won 1st place in the 2018  Freshwater Nationals in Utah. They also placed 3rd as a mixed team at the first World Freshwater Spearfishing Championship in Las Vegas, NV in 2017. She individually won 1st place woman at both 2017 and 2018 National tournaments as well as taking 3rd place woman in the world’s tournament in Las Vegas, NV. She is so excited to be a participant in the 2019 Worlds tournament, and hopes to make a name for herself among woman divers.


USA Womans Team

Kathy Cosby: USA

I have been spearfishing the North Coast of California for almost 5 years.  I worked in Wellington years ago, and have hoped since then for an opportunity to return to New Zealand.  Really looking forward to getting to know Lake Taupo, and getting to know competitors from around the world. I don’t have a lot of freshwater dive experience, but the North Coast of CA has been an amazing teacher when it comes to determination and stamina. Savanah and I will represent our country with pride and bring our best to the comp. See you all in the water soon!


I was born and raised in Colorado into a diving family.
I have been very lucky to be some great events with some great divers.
I have been spearfishing for 6+ years, but doing competition only for about 4 years.
I enjoy our fun regional events and have taken a 3rd in Nationals mixed doubles and first team for the women’s division
in the first WFSC in lake Mead 2017
I also hold the woman world Record for largest Northern Pike at 16.6 pounds
Kathy and I look forward to meeting everyone from around the world and doing our best for the USA
Safe diving for all









When Paul Verveniotis is not working on the water in San Francisco Bay, he is shooting fish and game above, on, and below the surface.
He hears that catfish tacos are particularly tasty.
Paul is looking forward to seeing his colleagues and representing USA!

“Matt Lum lives in Santa Barbara, California. He enjoys surfing, freediving, fly-fishing and eating pizza. Matt knows a lot of really, really good spearfishermen.”

Mike Ban and Matthew Diechsel, both from Colorado, have enjoyed the sport of spearfishing for many years.  Mike has been competing for 15 years, generally earning one of the top three spots, and he has three US Freshwater National titles under his belt.  Matthew has been spearfishing for 12 years and has also competed in numerous freshwater tournaments throughout the United States.  His accolades include placing in the top three as an individual and team for US Freshwater Nationals as well as many other tournaments over the years. Both competitors have shattered several IUSA records for freshwater fish species and relish their time spearfishing outside of competitions.

Outside of spearfishing, Mike’s other passion is bow hunting big and small wild game (including exotic animals) all over the world.  One of his favorite hunts consisted of jumping on a wild hog and killing it with a knife.

Matthew truly loves the water and enjoys traveling around the world to chase after trophy fish species.  He also likes playing sports such as indoor and futsal soccer, underwater hockey, and obstacle course races such as the Ultra Beast Spartan.  Matthew’s friends often refer to him as the “Deaf Merman or Silent Sniper”.



At the age of 15 I was introduced to free diving buy my buddies father his name is Frank Carly he took me under his wing taught me how to dive how to Spearfish I entered my first competition in 1961 and it was game on for the next 40 years.
The best part of this upcoming tournament is being able to dive with Mike Maguire as my teammate.


I was born into a diving family that loved to camp, dive, and take game along the Western coast of the US and into Mexico.
My brother Glen and I started in fresh water river competitions over 45 years ago and have been blessed with many great experiences at a national and world level. The spearo family we have developed along the way is what keeps me involved

I now enjoy giving back to the sport through the fresh water meets we hold in the mid west.Getting my daughter and son got involved at a young age and seeing them grow to be strong and safe divers has been the most exciting thing for me over these last few years. Although I am still adjusting to have them beat me in big fishing in competitions

WFSC for me is about giving the top divers from every country, in every division an opportunity compete and learn from each other in a competitive but fun format.
I believe this format is the key to building our sport and industry, One new diver, one fun mentoring opportunity at a time.
Join in

Fresh Water Rocks!

Goal for this year is to beat Andy Ruddock,  The crazy Ausi.



Spencer Vivian – Team USA

I was born and raised in Colorado as an avid hunter and fisherman. While I was in college, I was fortunate enough to meet Mike Mcguire who threw me into diving and eventually competitive spearfishing. Since my first spearfishing tournament I have developed a passion for the sport. I look forward to furthering my knowledge and abilities as I compete for many years to come.



Andrew Ruddock  – TEAM AUSTRALIA
Born 1 / 11/ 1954.
Started spearfishing at age 11 with Kingfishers Spearfishing Club on the Sth Coast of NSW.
Aust open champion and vet champ.
Professional diving for pearl shell in Broome, Trochus and slugs in NT And Qld and sea urchin and abalone in the south. Spearfishing guide in Coral Sea.
Competed for the first time in freshwater at last Worlds in Lake  Mead and thoroughly enjoyed the diving , competition and comradeship with the other divers and looking forward to renewing old friendships and new ones in Taupo.
It’s going to be a great Champs.

Gary Crawford – Team Australia

Hi everyone, I starting competition spearfishing at 16 and since then I’ve been fortunate enough to dive most of the states in Australia, the Coral Sea, New Zealand and Mexico as well as having a very supportive wife and 3 wonderful children. After the 2017 Freshwater Championships the Australian team came home saying how great it was so I knew I had to be part of the 2019 event. This will be my first Freshwater Championships and I’m really keen especially being partnered with Andrew (Andy) Ruddock. I love the competition and the comradery it brings so I’m hoping to make new friends and welcome them for the Interpacific Championships in Australia.


Graham Carlisle – Team Australia

I have been snorkelling since the age of 7 and breath hold spearfishing competitively since 1993. Originally from South Africa, but now living in Western Australia, I have made it my goal to travel and spearfish in as many destinations as I can and compete where possible I thoroughly enjoy the mateship of the fraternity and the atmosphere at all types of competitions. I’ve been lucky enough to have represented both South Africa and Australia in State and National Teams. This will be my second freshwater competition, which I am really looking forward to.  I’m also passionate about promoting and supporting the development of our sport by playing an active role in the Australian Underwater Federation at both a State and National level.




Monique Kehaunani Genereux – TEAM GUAM

I am from the beautiful Island of Guam. I am 38 years old and I have been spearfishing since I was 13. This will be my second Fresh water competition and I have also had the amazing opportunity to compete in the inter Pacific division against some of the best spearos in the world. I am blessed to have been able to go to all the places I have and to have met some of the most amazing people, all while doing one of the things I love the most. I look forward to meeting everyone and of course going back to NZ, one of my favorite places in the world!



Carmela Tyquiengco – Team Guam
Raised in Guam I was always around the water. I grew up in a family of spearfishing humans! I just started and can’t wait to do more of it!

Mike Todd Genereux – Guam
Been SpearFishing for 19 years.  Been in 3 Interpac competitions  and represented Guam for  the Micronesian olympics for the last three Olympic Games.  This will be my second fresh water worlds competition.  Looking forward to visiting New Zealand again.


Pat Swanson & Rowan Virbickas (right) – Mens Team 
Kia ora! My name is Pat Swanson, and I have been spearfishing for 45 years. The sea is my happy place. My greatest pleasure is to go out and get a mixed bag of fish and shellfish for a feed. I like the fact though that spearfishing can result in ecological benefit too, such as getting rid of invasive species like catfish.

I am also a competitive sort, a 3-time New Zealand Spearfishing Champion, and winner of many other competitions, including being a 5-time winner of the Cressi Great Lake Taupo Catfish Cull. I have a number of national spearfishing records, and I have represented  my country 7 times in international spearfishing events.

I work as a school teacher, and I have a passion for getting my students to appreciate the underwater world. I am also lucky to have the support of my family, who all join me for underwater adventures from time to time.

A big thank you to my sponsors and supporters, in particular Cressi and the Ripple Action Spearfishing Club, and also Oceanhunter.

Hi, I’m Rowan Virbickas

I have been spearfishing for seven years now, and have enjoyed competing from pretty much day one.
I have represented NZ at the Interpacific Championships in 2016 (which NZ won), and at the 2018 World Spearfishing Championships in Portugal.
I have competed at the Catfish cull six times, and have had four wins with my buddy Pat Swanson.
We will do our best to continue the trend.

Griffin Shields – Mixed Team

I started diving around the age of 5. Have competed in a few competitions nationally and internationally, including previous fresh water worlds held in Arkansas Beaver Lake. Won a couple catfish cull junior titles.

Micah Madsen (left) & Kolt Johnson (right) – Men’s Team

Micah: Spearfishing History/how long/comp history: Born and raised in Auckland, have been spearfishing since 14 years of age. First time representing NZ at an international event and looking forward to the challenge of competing against some great divers.

Hi, I’m Kolt Johnson. I’m a two-time winner and two-time runner up of the Lake Taupo Catfish Cull (looking at you Pat…). I’m excited to bring that experience to the team. When it comes to the sea, my goal for a day on the water is to enjoy the incredible NZ marine environment and bring home a mixed bag of kai moana.

Chris Connell & Cam Birley – Mixed Team 

Chris: 32 years old now I started spear fishing in the rivers round Upper Hutt as soon as I could swim, spearing anything that wasn’t native.. I started spear fishing properly about 15 as soon as I could drive to the beach…The catfish cull is the only spearo comp I’ve ever entered I only do recreational otherwise…

Cam Birley: Been diving for 4 years now, competed in the recent catfish cull otherwise quite new to comps

Michelle Witte & Brad Lang: – Mixed Team

Michelle: Since moving to the Bay of Plenty 4 years ago and living close to the sea I was introduced to spearfishing and freediving by friends and have loved it ever since. Over the last 2 years I have focused a lot of my time in becoming better at spearfishing and my involvement with the spearfishing community in Tauranga.  I am now an ambassador for WildBlueNZ and was one of the five who took part in creating an established Spearfishing club ‘Sons of Tangaroa’. New to competitions.  

Brad Lang: I grew up in and on the water mainly fishing while my father was diving, started out tank diving for crays at 12 years old and had my first taste of spearfishing at 16, really got into spearfishing at 21 and havnt stoped since, i dive for my own satisfaction and the challenges that go along with freediving/spearfishing is what i really thrive on, the only previous competition i have done is the taupo catfish cull and have done that 5 years running

Jennifer Troup & Rochele Potter: – Women’s Team 

Jennifer: 10 years, NZ, Australia, Pacific islands, Bahamas.

So I have a career on the water that I’ve been lucky enough has taken me around the world. When I moved to Sydney in 2007 I started being boatie for my friends doing the monthly alliman shield competition. After two times being boatie I thought I’d give the comp a go myself and never looked back. I have won the ladies alliman shield and also the ladies NSW state titles. I have not competitively dived in nz since moving back in 2011. I enjoyed the comps for the social side of it, talking and meeting like minded people was awesome.

Rochele Potter: I’ve been Spearfishing for about 9 years and during this time have achieved 7 IUSA Women’s World Records, 18 New Zealand Women’s National records and one Australian Women’s National Record. In 2016 I entered and won the New Zealand Women’s Nationals and Interpacific Women’s competitions. I prefer Spearfishing for recreation, however am looking for to diving the Freshwater Worlds in Lake Taupo and meeting the overseas competitors.

Hayley Robertson & Chris Hilleard  – Mixed Team

Started spearfishing in the summer of 2013/14 and did my first catfish cull that summer. Have now competed in 4 catfish culls and is the only spearfishing competition I enter for spearfishing.
Mostly spearfish around the Wellington region and have recently been doing trips to the Coromandel.

Chris Hilleard : Spearfishing History/how long/comp history:

learned to snorkel and scuba dive with my dad when I was 15 years old, and started spear fishing in my late teens.
I’ve done 5 catfish cull, pole spear competitions.
Loving it.

Barry Waring – Team NZ

Spearfishing History/how long/comp history: 35 years, 1987 & 1988 Junior nationals champion


Pipi Quinlan – Juniors

Pipi is 13 and is proudly one of NZ’s 3G competitors this year with a massive genetic advantage due to her superior genes. Her father is her hero of course, and she wants to be as good as him one day. But she will have to train with a pole spear more often to do that and learn to tell funny jokes. Pipi knows how to smash catfish and she is going to prove it.

Hamish Mace – Juniors Team

I have competed in the catfish cull for 3 years, I’ve dived for 3 years and addicted to it.

Michaela James & Ben Jeffares – Over 50s Team 

Michaela: I’m a (very) latecomer to spearfishing and I’m excited to be meeting people from all around the world who have so much wonderful experience in the sport.

In 2017 I joined Lazy Seal freediving club and that opened the door to a whole world of underwater activity. It lead to joining Ghost Fishing NZ as part of the freediving clean up crew. It also lead to a spot of mermaiding, but that’s another story.

I’ve done 3 catfish culls now and had a great time each time. It’s such an inclusive activity anyone can do (not necessarily well, but that doesn’t matter).

See you all at Taupo. I hope you have a great holiday and get rid of a lot of those pesky catfish for us!

Ben Jeffares : I am not a spearfisher, but I am an active member of the Lazy Seal Freediving Club, and the Freediving New Zealand community, as a judge, and administrator at the national level. My involvement in the Catfish Cull over the years has been because its a great social event: t brings together the freediving and spearfishing communities from around the country, and allows parents to team up with their kids, mates to go out for a long swim, and beginners and slow old folk like me to compete alongside highly competitive young guns. There is also the added bonus that we are helping to keep an introduced pest species under control. So I have been doing the Catfish Cull for a few years now, getting my eye in. For the last couple of years its been a bit tougher, but patience and persistence seem to be paying off



Gemma Shields (left) & Alex Edwards – Womens Team 

Gemma: I’ve been spearfishing for around 20 years now. I am a 2 x New Zealand women’s champion & have represented NZ in numerous overseas competitions in New Caledonia, Tahiti, Australia & the USA. This will be my 3rd freshwater comp, I placed first in the individual women’s at Lake Mead in 2017 so look forward to defending my title with my SUPERDIVER partner Alex!

Alex: I started spearfishing at the age of 12, so have been doing it for 5 years. I am the current NZ women’s spearfishing champion. My first time representing New Zealand was at the age of 14 at the interpacifics, and I have been doing so since.

Nat Davey (left) & Moss Burmester – Mens Team 

Hi my name is Nat Davey I’ve been spearfishing for 7 years now but have been diving most of my life. I’m lucky with my work I have been able to dedicate a lot of time to my spearfishing passion. Some of my  spearfishing high lights have been, I have shot 8 World Record fish and a number of National records. I was the first New Zealander to shoot a Yellowfin Tuna over 100kg. I have won 2 spearfishing competitions here in nz.
 I look forward to meeting and competing against some great divers in this competition.
Moss: Been spearfishing since age 12 (ish), 25 years. Still reasonably new to the competition side having competed for around 4 years, consistently placing top 10 at NZ Nationals and have won or often placed in 2nd tier regional comps. Landed NZs first and only Black Marlin (163.4kg) spearfishing.
Former 2x Olympic swimmer, Commonwealth Gold & Bronze medalist and World Champion. Former NZ Surf lifesaving representative and World medalist. Former NZ Underwater Hockey representative. Placed 2nd in age group at the recent Coast to Coast World Multisport Champs.

Edward Warnock  (left) & Luca Waring – Junior Team

 Edward: 15 years old.
Has been diving since he was 6. Has competed in the Nationals for 5years.
Placed 10th at this years Catfish Cull.

Luca Waring – Spearfishing History/how long/comp history: 5 years

Darren Shields (left) & Ian Warnock – Over 50s Team 

Darren: I have been diving for 49 years. My first dive was in Matai Bay in the far north of NZ at the age of 5 years old. I grew up in Whitianga where the bug really got me and I went on to win 6 National Titles, multiple regional events and represent NZ at  9 Inter Pacific’s, 3 Worlds and assistant manage several teams.

I have several fish that are special catches but one that isnt my biggest but means a lot to me was a 48kg Yellowfin tuna I speared in 1999, the current NZ record.
My children all dive with me and we travel all over the World chasing the sport.
I was the first to build a solely Spearfishing business in NZ starting back in 1989.
I love spearfishing in places like New Caledonia, Vanuatu and on the Great Barrier reef but New Zealand has the best diving I have ever experienced with special places like Fiordland and Great Barrier Island in the Hauraki Gulf.
I became President of Spearfishing NZ 2 years ago and have worked solidly alongside Mike McGuire to get this World Freshwater Championships off the ground first in Vegas and now here in NZ.
Mike and I are looking now for the next country to pick it up for 2021. We built the event keeping in mind it was to be more inclusive of a wide range of divers and lots about fun and meeting people from all over the World while still having a competitive element.
I love this sport as it enables the very young and the people with a few miles on the clock to still participate.

Ian Warnock: Have been spearfishing for 50 years. Competed at my first Nationals in 1976. 6 times NZ Champion
Competed for NZ Internationally many times between 1981 – 2010.

Won the Tri partite in Australia 1985. First country to achieve this outside their own country.
Represented NZ At the World Spearfishing Championships both as diver & manager.
World Champs in Tahiti 2000 finished 8th.
Won the 2man teams at the World Freshwater Championships 2017. Lake Mead Los Vegas.
World Freshwater Champs 2017 Lake Mead 3rd Placed Individual.

Jordy Wilson (left) & Reid Quinlan- Mens Team

Jordy: I started freediving from a young age and managed to get my first scallop at the age of 9. When I was 12 I got my first speargun and all I wanted to do was to chase butterfish around the shallows. I have been extremely lucky to dive with some of the most knowledgeable and experienced spearfishermen in New Zealand and have learnt so much from them.

I won juniors at the 2017 New Zealand nationals and also got to compete at the world freshwater champs at Lake Mead, Las Vegas and placed third in juniors that year aswell.
Reid: TheSnapperWhisperer celebrates 40 years since spearing his first fish, a humble black angelfish, this year.  His ambitions are not much higher now, although the odd blind snapper or kingy has swum into the end of his spear in recent years. Another milestone this January was celebrating 14 years since he picked up a speargun, preferring the simplicity of a 3 prong pole spear. The odd snapper has felt the 3 prong joy over those 14 years, and a hell of a lot of catfish have died trying to out swim him. A winner of the inaugural catfish cull event, Reid is dangerous to approach in the water, but can usually be bribed for secrets with Martinborough pinot noir.