Rudi is the founder of our training system. He was born on June 26th, 1969, in Cuba. He started freediving at age 4, scuba diving at 7, and by 12, he had become fascinated enough with freediving that he started developing a rudimentary training system. Through constant observation, research and self experimentation, he spent the next four years refining the concepts that still are the foundation of our system. By 16, he started teaching courses to local fishermen to help them turn their mostly dangerous practices into safe ones. He then became an alternate member of the junior national team, where he worked with several world-class divers and trainers and started including sports science and medicine elements into his own training system. Contrary to the prevalent attitude of the times that considered freediving a mystical endeavor and painted freedivers as meditation and yoga gurus, Rudi started treating it as a sport, with defined methods, training cycles, and repeatable ways to gauge progress. By 1991, he had taught his basic course to over 500 students and had amassed a considerable body of experience to substantiate his methods. That same year, he immigrated to the USA, where he continued to work in diving related fields, from underwater video and photography to scuba instruction, technical diving and, as before, freediving. During this time, Rudi started delving deeper into human biology and medical studies in an effort to understand how the human body reacted, and adapted, to the changes imposed by deep immersion. These studies were crucial to the creation of the next techniques that were added to his method, which would go on to revolutionize the sport.
In 1995, Rudi was ready to put his improved system through the toughest test of all, a world record attempt, and he worked with freediving phenom Alejandro Ravelo to set 3 world records. At the same time, he collaborated with the legendary Pipin Ferreras in creating the first freediving training organization in the world, the IAFD (International Association of Freedivers), for which Rudi served as Vice-President of Education until 1997. After deciding to leave the IAFD, Rudi was ready for a new challenge, that of taking a completely inexperienced diver and guiding her to several world records in just 8 months. The records set with this diver, Tanya Streeter, not only made her a new star in the sport that had been largely dominated for many years by just one female diver, but proved the efficacy of Rudi’s system since during the first dive the pair did together, she was only able to reach 15 meters/50 feet, and less than six months later she was shattering the No-Limits record with a dive to 113 meters/370 feet. During his time training Streeter, Rudi also took under his wing as his assistant Kirk Krack, who would go on to become a trainer of renown himself years later. Several more trainees came seeking his help for world records, including his future wife Yasemin Dalkilic. Freediving started to explode in popularity around this time, going from an obscure, stunt-like endeavor to a revered extreme sport, and Rudi’s work with four new different world champions in the space of just three years was a big reason for that widespread recognition. But with this popularity came many new organizations and characters whose actions and beliefs made the sport less fair, and more importantly, less safe. Unhappy with this, In 1999, Rudi co-founded F.R.E.E. (Freediving Regulations & Education Entity), an organization dedicated to regulating freediving records and, most importantly, to the dissemination of knowledge with a safety foundation. Working with Yasemin Dalkilic from 1999 to 2006, the pair went on to redefine female performance as well as the media presence of the sport, with Dalkilic becoming the first woman to break the 100 and 120 meter barriers, the first to set a record in the Unassisted category, and the first to have several of her record events televised LIVE on several European networks and the first female freediver to be featured by Reuters, AP, BBC, Eurosports, NBC, Time Warner, Time Warner, Discovery, etc. Rudi also took on training duties for Jamaican super-athlete and martial arts sensation David Lee, who added the title of Freediving World Champion to his resume and went on to set 6 world Records with Rudi. At this point, Rudi started adapting his system into a method that could be used by other athletes, and even regular people, to improve anaerobic performance and breathing efficiency. This system, called AIR (Anaerobic Intervalometric Response), has now been used by hundreds of athletes, from mountaineers, surfers, ice skaters and divers, to UFC fighters, ultra marathon runners and Olympic swimmers. Additionally, it has helped potentiate anaerobic performance and stress response in firefighters, stunt performers, and several law enforcement teams. While experimenting with alternate techniques to transition his core freediving methods into the AIR system, Rudi took on stars from other sports who had manifested interest in freediving as trainees, including IronMan standout Topi Lintukangas and 2-time synchro-swimming Olympic Champion Olga Novoshchenova, whom both went to break Freediving world records as a result of this cooperation. By 2010, Rudi was ready to dedicate himself full time to the work with AIR and has since only taken on a handful of freediving courses each year, stepping away completely from the training of world record hopefuls. In 2022, armed with all the new experiences and knowledge gained with other athletes and professionals through his role at AIR, Rudi decided to revamp the complete course curriculum for the FREE courses. The new courses are now being taught by a select group of instructors through LearnFreediving.com. More than 40 years from the date that first sketched some basic training principles on a notepad at the age of 12, Rudi continues to contribute innovative ideas to the field of freediving training, cementing his position as one of the most influential trainers the sport has ever known.