LIFESTYLE + HOME
Local woman conquers one of the most challenging sports under the waves.
Article by: Cheyenne Lee Behrsin
Today we’re discussing my take on spearfishing as a woman; how it’s different and how it’s not. My name is Cheyenne Lee Behrsin, and I am a 5th generation Floridian, meaning I come from a long line of salty commercial fishermen, three generations to be exact.
I love everything to do with being outdoors, especially on the ocean. I have been a team Salt Life member for almost six years and am most passionate about becoming a role model for women in the outdoors. I aspire to motivate them to be authentic and intrigued about adventuring into the water/woods and connecting with themselves, God, and nature. I believe a lot of my passion is generational and was instilled by my parents and theirs before. From a very young age (probably around four), my parents and family members taught me how to fish and how to catch lobster and spearfish. I still remember every first experience I’ve had on the water and many that have followed after. Over the years, I have set and broken six women’s world record titles for spearfishing on both pole spear and speargun. I’ll never forget my first record fish and the fire it ignited in me. Up until that day, I had no idea about World Records and the ability to set and break them. I remember the feeling of gaining respect and recognition in the sport, which had been long chased after keeping up with a family and community of primarily men. In order to submit a World Record, you must be freediving and do everything on your own. Whether you’re a man or woman, it’s a feat like no other! I mean, you are wrestling the biggest fish of that species ever to be landed on the boat; by yourself!
I didn’t get to that point of ability without many long days on the water, endless harsh criticism, and a ton of crazy moments. The point is, it’s a challenging sport, and you have to not only be able to, but you have to want to hold your own out there. One of the best ways to develop that is tournament diving. The rush of trying to be the quietest and quickest to slip into the water, hunt your fish, and reload for another builds some serious situational awareness and skill both in the water and on the boat. Some of the record fish I’ve shot have even been speared in tournaments. I’m an extremely competitive person by nature and thrive under the pressure of outshooting my opponents; because of this, I end up hunting some of my best fish during these events. Granted, I don’t always win the tournament using big game fish tactics, but I have won quite a few. One of my favorite memories of all time took place while spearfishing, believe it or not, I didn’t shoot a thing! In fact, I put my pole spear back in the boat! Last summer, while on our annual family spearing trip in the Bahamas, we came across a pod of wild dolphins. Eleven of my family members and I were surrounded by about 8-12 spotted and bottlenose dolphins that wanted nothing more than to spend the next hour and a half playing with us. To say the experience was out of this world is an extreme understatement; never in my life have I experienced such a raw and real interaction between a human and a wild animal. I’m a firm believer that in order to have beautiful experiences, you have to venture out and find them. I’ve been blessed with a lifetime of incredible experiences in and on the water, and I’m blessed to be sharing them with you right now.
I am deeply passionate about becoming a role model for women, motivating them to be authentic and passionate about being on the water or in the woods and connecting with themselves, God, and nature. I want to encourage girls and women of all ages to give freediving and spearfishing a try. It is always recommended to get freedive level 1 certified before spearfishing to learn proper safety practices and procedures, as this is and can be a dangerous sport.
So what is spearfishing from my perspective? Whoever you are, there is a place for you in the sport, and knowing how to navigate scenarios that arise can be helpful to you in the long run. Educating yourself and doing your own research and due diligence on safety procedures and licensing rules/regulations is advised. You will have ups, downs, and frustrations along the way, but it does get easier with practice! Get in touch with the community by talking to your local dive shop or online support group, and go have some fun! Remember, not every trip has to be successful. There are many days that I go out and don’t catch or shoot anything, but I still have memories and experiences to go home with that will last a lifetime. Join me on my adventures under the sea on Instagram @cheyenneleebehrsin.