To honour those who have supported, influenced, and spearheaded Asia’s Dive and conservation industry, UW360 has put together a list of significant individuals. This list is by no means exhaustive, nor is it a ranking. We recognise that there are many other deserving individuals who have contributed to the industry, and we would like to thank every diver, scientist, conservationist, educator, photographer, and volunteer for their commitment to the ocean.
73. Alex Santos
Alex brought tech diving to the Philippines in 1993. These days, he and his PHILTECH team perform underwater work for hydropower plants, caissons, and other marine facilities. Their unusual diving profiles and behavior allows him to study early manifestations of DCS, compelling him to develop in-water recompression procedures in the workplace, and has reversed DCS in all cases. He is a member of the Filipino Cave Divers, individuals who apply their diverse backgrounds in the study, exploration, and preservation of underwater caves. Alex does deep recovery for valuable objects and victims of drowning, and his experience has been called upon during disasters at sea. He has trained recovery teams from other countries including the Philippine Coast Guard Special Operations Group.
74. Alexey Molchanov
Alexey Molchanov has set the new Constant Weight (CWT) Freediving World Record. The freediving superstar broke his own AIDA World Record in Constant Weight (CWT) by diving to 129 metres in three minutes 50 seconds
75. Christian Heylend
Christian is a passionate and accomplished explorer of the underwater world for more than 30 years. He founded PURE, The Worldwide Network of Rebreather Explorers, fifteen years ago, and it is now the largest network of rebreather diving facilities worldwide. Today, Christian has become one of the world’s leading experts on rebreather diving exploration and training, having trained divers for more than 20 years, as well as more than 500 instructors and instructor trainers worldwide with all main diver training agencies. He also trained several rebreather manufacturers, training
directors, military, fire departments, underwater biologists, the previous expedition director of the Cousteau Society, as well as underwater videographers for National Geographic and BBC Blue Planet. Recently, the International Association of Nitrox and Technical Divers (IANTD), appointed him as President for the Indo-Pacific area, while Lara, his wonderful wife, leads IANTD around the Red Sea.
76. Dada Li
Founder, Dada Li mermaid Academy
Dada Li is the first female Chinese PADI Master Freediver and Instructor. She is also an underwater model, and has used her experience in freediving to become an AIDA international freediving instructor and judge. She single-handedly created the first underwater performing group composed of professional freedivers. She has been interviewed by Reuters, China Central Television, Guangdong TV, Jiangsu TV and other media.
77. David Strike
With a strong background in military, commercial, recreational and technical diving, David Strike has dived extensively around the Asia-Pacific region, has authored several hundred articles about diving, and has organised several world class technical diving events. He is the recipient of the ADEX Lifetime Achievement Award for contributions to Technical Diving, and a Fellow of the Explorers Club of New York.
78. Dharshana Jayawardena
Dharshana Jayawardena is a pioneering underwater explorer in Sri Lanka. He is the author of Ghosts of the Deep – Diving the shipwrecks of Sri Lanka and the founder of DiveSriLanka.com, a comprehensive source of information about SCUBA diving in the island. He is also a field editor for Asian Diver magazine. Dharshana has identified the origins of several mystery wrecks; among them the World War I SS Worcestershire and a World War II Catalina patrol bomber. Recently he has ventured into cave diving and discovered Sri Lanka’s first major underwater cave system among its scenic mountains.
79. Gao Qiang
Chairman, China Underwater Association
Gao Qiang is the Chairman of China Underwater Association’s Technical Committee and Vocational Skill of Diving Professionals. He is also a National Sports Medal of Honour holder.
80. Gideon Liew
Liew is a member of the Board is Directors with Global Underwater Explorers and has been teaching for the organisation at various levels around the world for 15 years. He is also actively involved with exploration projects and conservation initiatives in countries like Australia, China, Italy, Mexico, USA and the Philippines.
81. Guillame Néry
Born in Nice, Néry has broken several records, earning a world championship title in deep-sea free diving (-126m), Guillaume continues to explore the human limits and the unknown world of the deep-sea. He writes and creates images that combine aesthetic style and high performance, such as Free Fall, Ocean Gravity and his latest project, One Breath Around The World.
82. Herbert Nitsch
Austrian Herbert Nitsch is the current freediving world record holder and “the deepest man on earth”. This prestigious title was given to him when he then set the world record for freediving at an incredible depth of 214 metres (702 feet) in 2007 in the No Limit discipline. He surpassed this world record with a No Limit dive to 253.2 metres (830.8 ft) in 2012 and is the only person with world records across all of the freediving disciplines, 33 world records in total.
83. Jean-Pol Francois
Jean-Pol Francois is a freediving instructor who has participated in many AIDA World Championships as an athlete and judge. He also co-founded Freediving Planet in the Philippines and Hong Kong to promote quality and safe freediving education.
84. Jessea Lu
Jessea Lu is a world-renowned Chinese freediving athlete with 27 national records under her belt. She can hold her breath over 8 minutes and is one of the few people ever in history to freedive in Antarctica where water temperature is at -2°C. She has won multiple international gold medals and is the first Chinese medalist in the world’s most prestigious freediving competitions (AIDA Freediving World Championship, Vertical Blue, Deja Blue, and Carribean Cup, etc). She also has a PhD in medicine and enjoys teaching. She is the founder of PFI.China — a freediving education institution based in China.
85. Jill Heinerth
Heinerth is a pioneering underwater explorer and filmmaker. Recognising a lifetime devoted to water advocacy and exploration, Jill is also an author, lecturer and an inaugural member of the Women Divers Hall of Fame.
86. John Fang
John Fang, the regional manger of TDI SDI ERDI of Taiwan, as well as a seasoned PSD Instructor Trainer used to be the convener of public Safety Diver course in Taiwan’s national fire agency, taking in charge of firemen training for public safety. As an experienced Instructor Trainer of Trimix diving, cave diving, and wreck diving, he is also the holder of Taiwan’s deepest diving record. John Fang has been committing himself to rebreather in tech diving field for years. He has trained more than 80 rebreather divers in 2014 alone. Being invited to lecture diving course in 3 universities, he is a MBA Doctor’s degree candidate. Two of his diving centers are the only dive centers providing Nitrox for free in Taiwan.
87. Rommy Cheung
The first Chinese PADI Course Director and Examiner
Facing the many challenges since 1981, Mr. Rommy Cheung became the pioneer in the diving industry of Hong Kong , and he has been contributing significantly to PADI diving education and local environmental protection for the past 35 years. He was the first PADI Chinese Course Director and Examiner, and is the Founding Director of HKDIA, Chairman of the Hong Kong Underwater Association 2001-2003, and Chairperson of Lions Club 303 HKSAR 2007-2008.
88. Shafraz Naeem
Shafraz Naeem, known to everyone as Shaff, started his diving career in 1994 and is an ex-military dive instructor and an instructor for various diver training agencies, he has extensive knowledge of diving all over the Maldives. He does a lot of deep exploration dives all over the Maldives. For the past 10 years he has successfully ventured into underwater photography, and is an award-winning underwater photographer. He is the founder of Atoll Scuba.
89. Simon Pridmore
Simon Pridmore is a pioneer of mixed-gas deep diving in Asia, and previously owned IANTD franchises in Micronesia and the UK. He is now the best-selling author of books for scuba divers that include Scuba Confidential, Scuba Professional, and Scuba Fundamental.
Singapore’s First Mermaid
Syrena, Singapore’s First Mermaid, is the founder of the Singapore Mermaid School. She is forging a new mermaid movement in Asia: one that champions strength, beauty, and love as the core values of every siren of the seas. The Singapore Mermaid School blends mermaid theory and physicality, immersing students in a holistic mermaid experience of a lifetime.
91. Wu Li Xin
Wu Li Xin is a technical diver and professional underwater photographer who has many accolades to his name, such as the Silver award for macro photography at the 11th World Underwater Photography Championships. Wu is also a contract photographer with Chinese National Geography, as well as a member of the China Artistic Photography Academy.
92. Wang Aolin
Wang Aolin is a freediving athlete. In 2015, he founded Jie Ta Freediving School. Aolin is also the president of China’s AIDA International Freediving Association. He represented his country in the AIDA Individual Apnea Depth World Championship in the same year and set national records in three different categories.