PADI Master Instructor Jill Heinerth’s dive log holds Antarctic icebergs and African lava tubes. Her most intense record-setting dip stretched 21 hours — five of which were at a depth of 300 feet. The goal of this north Florida expedition, known as Wakulla2 Project, was to create the first three-dimensional map of a subterranean space. It also inspired Heinerth’s grandest project to date: a documentary about the future of water and a trans-Canadian bicycle journey of almost 4,350 miles
Q: You’ve just finished bicycling across Canada to promote your film We Are Water.
Every day I woke up and got in the saddle. I can’t solve the water crisis alone, but I can create water missionaries. When we reach people peer to peer, they help fight our battle. Together we are starting a real movement in water literacy.
Q: How so?
Everyone needs to know where his water comes from, and how he affects its quantity and quality. Nobody wants to pollute or overuse, but we don’t realize how our lives are intertwined with our water resources.
Q: Are you an adrenaline junkie?
Not at all. I don’t like speed. I prefer swimming over scootering through caves. I’m actually very risk averse in life. I was gifted with skydiving lessons once and didn’t use them. I would love the sensation of soaring in the skies but couldn’t risk an injury that could take me away from my true love: water.
Q: What runs through your mind during dives?
Tough expeditions demand complete focus. You can think only about each next step. Talk about task loading: I monitor my rebreather’s life-support parameters, shoot photos or videos in difficult conditions, and track my diving partner.
Q: What lessons learned in caves do you apply to everyday life?
If you don’t embrace fear, then you spend your life running from it. If you deal with it pragmatically rather than emotionally, you control the situation and create the best chance for survival.
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