Adventure is the driving force for 2016 Blue Ocean Summit speaker, Mehgan Heaney-Grier.
“It [adventure] fuels me,” Mehgan told Summit host, Laurie Wilson. “It makes me happy. When I’m happy, I have that much more to tap into and give back.”
Mehgan’s adventure in the underwater world began as a young girl in the Florida Keys, where she could usually be found on a boat or in the water. As a teenager, Mehgan began to explore and expand her freediving skills, foregoing tanks and diving to depth on her own power.
In reality it wasn’t that long ago, yet when Mehgan learned to freedive in the mid 1990’s the sport was far from mainstream in America. At that time there had yet to be a USA record established for men or women in the constant weight category. With that knowledge, as well as her developing talent in the sport, and a growing desire to push her limits, Mehgan put together a dive team comprised of her family and friends. With their support, she developed and began a homegrown training regime designed to take her deeper.
This past October, Mehgan celebrated the 20th anniversary of her 155’ record setting freedive. As she reflects on that period of her life, she recognizes the inward strength, discipline and self-control freediving taught her at a young age.
“Ultimately, I am in control of my brain, what I’m doing, what I’m thinking,” Mehgan said. “In large part what I learned from freediving is my grit and determination, but it’s also given me the ability to tap into a calmness and presence that can be applied to so many areas of work and life.”
It’s that awareness and constant self-reflection that she learned as a freediver that’s helped her stay focused on her mission to do what she can to help preserve and protect the health of the ocean. As she puts it, she’s using her superpowers—her voice and passion— for good, by sharing the message of conservation and sustainability, as well as the importance of focusing on solutions and tapping into the strength we all possess to fight the good fight.
What’s so refreshing about Mehgan is her honesty about her journey to where she is today and how much she has grown over the years.
“I’ve gone through a personal evolution,” Mehgan said. “In my early career, I wanted to touch everything in the ocean. It was such a beautiful and ever changing place; huge temptation!” around her. Now, as a mother of a four-year-old and with many more years of experience under her dive belt, Mehgan takes a much different, and more hands-off approach.
“I’ve changed, and all I can do is to try and lead by example,” Mehgan Heaney-Grier said. “More than anything I want my kids to experience a healthy and abundant ocean environment, even better than the one I grew up in and love.”
Mehgan knows her voice has power and is always looking for ways to further her reach. Whether it’s promoting sustainability in the dive community through the Blue the Dive campaign, working with youth groups, or sharing her adventures via her YouTube series, Off the Map, Mehgan is constantly baking-in the message of ocean conservation and sustainability into her work and conversations.
“For me, it’s about sharing and connecting with people,” Mehgan said. “In many instances, people just might not have been exposed to the information.”
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