Leigh and Bill
Leigh and Bill Baker will be attending Vertical Blue for a second time as part of the medical component of VB Safety 2016. They live in Western Washington state, on an island located in the Puget Sound. They enjoy camping and kayaking on shorelines, surf waves, and rivers. When they are home, they juggle their attention amongst 3 dogs and an ancient, yet demanding cat.
Bill is a Paramedic Firefighter with a large fire department in Washington. He has been a paramedic for over 15 years, and an Emergency Medical Technician since 1988. Having worked in the field of emergency medical services for over 25 years, he is well versed in Advanced Cardiac Life Support, is a Paramedic Advanced Airway Instructor, and is accustomed to performing in remote and dynamic environments. Bill has also worked as a Federal Wildland Firefighter, and is well prepared to provide support for VB 2016.
Leigh has been a Respiratory Therapist for ten years, and before that was a Paramedic for 12 years. She has been trained in and performed in a variety of environments, and is accustomed to the unique challenges that will be potentially presented during the competition. Her curiosity and understanding of the physiologic processes involved with free diving will be a tremendous asset to the competitors and the safety divers.
Leigh and Bill are comfortable in managing airway emergencies, to include using CPAP, positive pressure and a variety of different airways. Although neither are divers, they bring to the team both knowledge and skills to assist the competitors and enhance the margin of safety.
Steve is returning to Vertical Blue for the fourth time. It's his third time at the competition as the Chief of Safety, having first worked at VB in 2014 as platform coordinator. He also previously worked as a safety diver in Kalamata at the world Depth Championship's in 2013. Steve has been active in freediving since 2009 when he discovered the sport in Dahab, where he still lives, and now owns, along with Pascal Berger and Miguel Lozano one of the world's most dynamic Freedive schools, Dahab Freedivers.
Stephen is an AIDA, PADI and EFR instructor trainer and has thought and coached hundreds of divers in Dahab, Spain and the Philippines. He is also a competitive freediver and is current holder of all his national depth records. A proud Dubliner he returns every summer to Ireland to watch his beloved Dubs compete in the All-Ireland Championships and walk among the Connemara Hills. Up the Dubs!
Louisa Collyns is a British freediver, AIDA instructor and AIDA Competition Safety Freediver. She represented the UK at the 2013 World Depth Championships in Kalamata.
Louisa is returning for her third time as part of the safety team for VB, having been on the team in 2014 and 2016. She was Platform Coordinator at the Caribbean Cup competition in Roatan in May 2016; and was Safety Team Leader and Platform Coordinator at the Blue Element Competition in Dominica in November 2016. She has also taught on courses and training camps alongside Johnny Sunnex and Miguel Lozano.
Louisa is an Emergency First Response Instructor and worked for many years as a PADI IDCS Scuba instructor. She is a pilates teacher, specializing in rehabilitation and has pioneered a 'Pilates for Freediving' program and has written articles on pilates and freediving for Freedive Magazine and Barefoot Running Magazine. Louisa based in Ibiza where she founded Freedive Ibiza. She is also a massage therapist and pilates teacher, and organises retreats.
Back by popular demand! Roberto Berto returns for his 3rd time as a VB safety diver. He is a passionate waterman from the tropics of Australia and uses the Great Barrier Reef not only as his workplace, but also his training ground where he strengthens his desire for a deeper experience. During his freediving career he has completed dives in free immersion to 76 meters, constant weight with bi fins to 62 meters and Constant weight no fins to 61 meters. The freedom and challenge of bi fins is what drives this little man to personal advances of 170 meters dynamic. From the days of Scuba instructing on the reef he has been involved in many different facets of the marine industry from skippering vessels, to commercial diving and guiding spearfishing adventures. He now enjoys his time away from being the manager of Diversworld playing in the lush rainforest and abundant waters of the Great Barrier Reef.
From Japan, Sayaka Itaki is a yoga instructor and PADI scuba diving instructor. She has been swimming since she was a baby and has a passion for life under the water where she finds peace of mind and serenity. The reason Sayaka started free diving was because she watched, the one and only!, Tomoka Fukuda's documentary on TV in 2014, It sparked her interest and she's never looked back. Having been trained by the legendary Misuzu Okamoto in Japan, she had the perfect introduction the world of freediving. In 2015 Sayaka moved to Australia to get more free diving experience. In her spare time she likes diving, training and spear fishing on the great barrier reef.
Marco Cosentino, AKA The Emperor!, is a legendary Italian freediver. A seasoned VB man this is his 9th time to participate in the Vertical Blue safety team, having been a member for the first time in the 2009 edition. Vastly experienced as both an instructor and safety diver, Marco has been teaching under AIDA International and Apnea Academy since 2004. He is a Basic Life Support Instructor and Apnea Rescue Trainer. Marco lives a life in the water. He trains year round freediving and has personal bests below 60m in all disciplines. He is also an experienced sailor and passionate spearfisher. Marco is based in Rome where he teaches freediving. It's Marco's first time at VB as a proud father, having been blessed with a daughter last March, interesting to see if this takes the edge of the rough Roman ;)…
New to the safety team this year, Dayna is an AIDA, PADI and EFR instructor. Traveling about but currently residing in Dahab, Dayna started her freediving in Thailand in 2015. She arrived in Dahab in 2016 and like so many others decided to stay, spending most days training in Egypt's famous Blue Hole. Active with Dahab Freedivers she was safety for several national record variable attempts, most notably Pascal Berger's 131m Swiss national record in January. Dayna grew up in just about the opposite environment, a small town farm county in the midwest of the United States. Part fish, part cook/baker, she will be a delicious assett to the VB safety team.
Phil Clayton aka Phil-nofins has been a competitive Freediver since 2006. Originally from England, Phil set a number of UK national records in DNF including possibly the only national record set on exhale. Phil now competes as a Kiwi and is the current national depth champion (a title contested annually in Lake Taupo and more testament to ability diving in cold dark water than outright depth). Current PB's are 200m DYN (exhale), 150m DNF (exhale), 6min STA, 50m CNF, 60m CWT & FIM.
Phil lives in Auckland NZ and has been heavily involved in developing the freediving scene in NZ, having been President of AIDA NZ (now Freediving NZ) since 2009.Phil ‘s life involves balancing being a director in a large engineering consultancy, training for freediving competition, his role at Freediving NZ, being an AIDA freediving instructor, hunting and gathering underwater and surfski paddling.
Brian is an American freediver, joining the team for his first year as a trainee safety. Brain started his freediving in Dahab learning with Steve at Dahab Freedivers. During his training, he was a part of the safety team for several national record attempts, most notably Pascal Berger's 131m Swiss national record in variable weight.
Brian was a competitive swimmer for most of his life, spending every waking hour of his childhood in or around a pool. Safe to say, he's comfortable in the water. As to not waste all those years of swimming, he has turned to freediving for kicks and giggles. When he's not training, Brian enjoys applying for jobs that he'll probably never get.