WATCH: Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame Inductee Alli Penovich is World Champion Freediver, Spearfisherman
By Space Coast Daily // March 20, 2023
AMATEUR/REC CATEGORY INDUCTEE
WATCH: Allie Penovich, a Cocoa Beach High School graduate, and former college triathlete, is now an International Free Diving Champion and International Underwater Spearfishing Association World Record Holder. She is also a 2021 inductee into the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame.
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Being a lifelong resident of Brevard County, Alli Penovich grew up in and around the water, and every available moment she would spend time with her dad out on their boat surfing, fishing, diving, and just being around the ocean.
Penovich, a Cocoa Beach High School graduate, and former college triathlete, is now an International Free Diving Champion and International Underwater Spearfishing Association World Record Holder.
Freediving is the art and sport of diving underwater on one breath of air, unassisted by any artificial breathing apparatus as in scuba diving.
Athletes compete to dive the deepest underwater and hold their breath the longest. Freediving is also used as a means of diving for spearfishing or harvesting fish with elastic band-powered spearguns, Hawaiian slings, pole spears or another method.
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In June 2019, wanting to share her passion for the ocean with others, she became an instructor for Freediving Instructors International, one of the most respected agencies in the U.S.
A few months later she booked a one-way ticket to Bali where she fell in love with competitive freediving. During her three months there, she entered and won her first competition, the Singapore Depth Championships, and placed third overall female in her second competition, posting a personal best depth of 233 feet.
“I felt oddly at peace with the depth, as I had the number in my head and it didn’t scare me, didn’t intimidate me. I wanted it and knew I could do it,” said Penovich of her 233-foot free dive.
Penovich learned spearfishing from her dad, who was a commercial fisherman and spearfisherman. She and her family would vacation in the Keys each year, which according to Penovich, is “where I got really comfortable.”
Lobster diving and spearfishing were a way of life in Penovich’s formative years. The family would spend time in the Bahamas and would only bring veggies and rice, and they would eat whatever they caught.
Penovich started spearfishing at a young age and got her first world record at age 17. Between 2014 and 2019, she shot and received three more records.
The International Underwater Spearfishing Association was formed in 1950 to promote spearfishing and to assist in scientific and spearfishing competitive efforts. Through several decades of existence, the IUSA has seen diver’s skill and technology change from the Hawaiian slings of the Pinder Brothers to the high-tech equipment and super-powered spearguns of today’s freedivers.
“When I was about 12 years old they put a spear in my hand, and I have loved it ever since,” said Penovich.
When asked to describe the sport of freediving, she said, “It is basically diving as deep as you can on one breath, it is very interesting, and I love it!”