Jason Mallinson - Explorer, Rescuer

Jason Mallinson learnt his tradecraft in the cold murky sumps of North Yorkshire, England in the early 90’s, where side-mount solo cave diving was the norm. From these sound foundations he quickly progressed to mixed gas diving, and before the time that rebreathers were in mainstream cave diving, long range multi-stage OC dives were carried out mainly in mainland Europe. Notable OC explorations were made at the Emergence de Ressel in France, and soon after the transition to CC rebreathers was made.

This allowed Jason to make further explorations, always pushing the envelope of what at the time was thought possible. The Classic KISS became the rebreather of choice and with the Pozo Azul (Spain) explorations beginning in 2001, this culminated in a world record, total penetration dive distance of 8825m in 2010 (now 9km+).

Jason specializes in diving sumps at the bottom of deep dry cave systems and has extensive caving experience. Sistema Cheve (1484m) and Sistema Huautla (1540m) in Mexico, both held the Western Hemisphere depth record. SIMA GESM (1240m) and BU56 (1408m) in Spain were also dived using KISS rebreathers. Jason is also a rescue call-out diver and has carried out rescue and recovery operations in UK, Mexico, France, Norway and Ireland where local authorities have requested specialist assistance.

Laurent Lavoye

Laurent Lavoye, while originally from France, has built up his career working in many parts of the world. He has a business background and is the owner of one of the best-rated dive resorts in Indonesia, 7SEAS®. In his 20 years as a dive professional, he has achieved the Course Director & Instructor Trainer rating from PADI TecRec & PSAI, as well as instructor with TDI. He teaches all levels of dive training; up to Trimix, open circuit, as well as closed circuit, including at the professional level. Laurent is a well-respected leader in the dive industry, particularly in Asia.

Laurent has done numerous expeditions on his Classic KISS, and is now focusing on the KISS Spirit Sidewinder. He is well known for his expeditions through the jungle to reach & dive the Lombok Volcano, Crater Lake. At 2,000 m (6,600ft) of altitude, he is the only trainer that teaches altitude diving in Indonesia, and certainly in a volcano.

 

His latest exploration project is mapping the majestic “Deep Walls” off the northern coast of Lombok, the last ramparts facing the Indo-Pacific Ocean. Due to extreme conditions, the use of the KISS Spirit Sidewinder is important; a rebreather that is both capable of deep technical diving, as well as problem free is key to this venture. Laurent is the main representative for KISS in the SE Asia/China region, and the primary KISS Spirit Sidewinder Instructor.

 

Kim Infield

To say that Kimberly Infield grew up around SCUBA diving is an understatement. Certified for SCUBA at age 12 and diving KISS rebreathers since age 18, her dad, Doug Ebersole (also with KISS) has had a huge influence on her, as has shark conservationist Jim Abernethy, with whom it is believed she was the youngest woman to ever intentionally dive with tiger sharks. Kim actively continued with SCUBA diving through her years in college at Stetson University in DeLand, Florida, where she studied Molecular Biology. During this time, she celebrated every hundredth dive doing something her mother Carol would have forbidden had she known, such as dangling from her feet holding a crate of shark bait in the Bahamas!

Fast forward a few years, and Kim is currently the Operations Manager of SeaVentures Aquatic Center, a PADI 5 Star IDC -level dive center in Alpharetta, Georgia where she initiated and currently heads its technical diving program. She holds instructor-level certifications from PADI, SSI, DAN, SDI/TDI, and IANTD. Kim believes that using and teaching KISS rebreathers is key to her mission of expanding the reach and enjoyment of technical diving.

“The thing I like about KISS” says Kim, “is the elegance of the systems they design. The lightweight, compact design of the Orca Spirit LTE makes it great gear with which to transport and travel, and its straightforward assembly is easy for my students to learn with confidence. Once we complete training, many of our users prefer a KISS rebreather to traditional open circuit systems, even for recreational diving on vacation.  That’s a level of convenience, reliability, and simplicity that is really unique in rebreather systems.”

Apart from her avid interest in technical diving, she has a strong passion for SCUBA-related outreach organizations such as the Handicapped Scuba Association and Patriots for Disabled Divers. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband Danny and their dog, Samsonite. Though she’s been privileged to dive all around the world, her favorite dive sites are easily accessible from her childhood home in Central Florida, including the Blue Heron Bridge in West Palm Beach, Florida and Tiger Beach in the Bahamas, where she sees Kimberly (the tiger shark Jim named after her) as often as she can.  

Alan Studley - KISS Instructor/Trainer Emeritus

Alan is best know as KISS Rebreather’s foremost CCR Instructor/Trainer in addition to company’s primary North American Sales Manager.

Alan’s initiation with KISS Rebreather’s were during KISS Rebreather’s humble beginnings back in March 2001. Following a meeting with the owner of the company Gordon Smith, he became the proud owner of Classic KISS #36.

Soon after, with a little insistence from Gordon, Alan became the first KISS Rebreather Instructor Trainer with A.N.D.I , I.A.N.T.D. & TDI, which eventually evolved into a stronger relationship with Gordon and Kim and a more hands involvement with all KISS products.

For both Alan and KISS, it was a good fit as Alan's past experience included owning and operating a dive center in Napa, California, as well as teaching open water dive courses for many years. His other pursuits included photography and filmmaking which also had him venturing into terrestrial photo and filming projects of predators like lions in Africa to doing a stent for Wild Things; Wolf re-entering project in Yellowstone National Park. Through his talents as a California based photographer, he was signed on for 10 weeks as a research photographer for a special Chicago zoological project.

Being that the water always still comes first, Alan’s passion for photography turned back to the ocean. Some of his work with sea otters and sharks amongst other marine life has aired on ABC, NBC, Show Time, The Learning Channel and syndicated television. He co-produced Discover California Diving, a DVD/CD, promoting diving in California .

It was on this same road that led Alan to rebreathers transiting from semi-closed rebreathers in the mid 90’s to fully closed circuit systems by 2001.

The ability to work closer to marine wildlife that are easily disturbed or frighten by bubbles like schooling hammerheads in the Eastern Pacific, or extend his bottom times closer to home in California was paramount, with CCR technology as the means to do it.

“As a self-confessed gear fanatic, I still find that in spite of the fact that there are more rebreather models today than there ever before, the KISS is still a hard system to beat. Very few can meet it when you factor just how lightweight, reliable, rugged and time tested they are. And the playing field is further narrowed down when you discover just how quick and easy it is to set up, break down and clean compared to other units out there. For me, whether swimming or scootering the drag is minimal and trimming for buoyancy is effortless,” Alan further adds “which is why I still chose to only teach KISS rebreather courses.”

While Alan is happy to pass on the touch when it comes teaching to some of the new faces in the industry, he still sees himself as a KISS Rebreather Diver to the day he hangs up his fins. Still with #36 Classic Kiss Head, everything else evolved.

 

Curt Bowen - Explorer, Photographer, Publisher Advanced Diver Magazine

Curt Bowen started his diving career at a young age when he moved from his land-locked home state of Iowa to the beaches of Sarasota, Florida. As with the case of many divers, he was drawn to the underwater environment by watching the Cousteau specials as a child.

Following years of diving and continued education to higher certifications, Curt become heavily involved in deep cave and wreck exploration in the late 80’s. For many years Curt performed in the role of technical instructor, teaching extended range, decompression, and trimix.

In 1995 Curt founded a new technical diving publication, DeepTech Journal, and for five years traveled, explored and published many outstanding magazine issues. Business partner problems caused the closure of DeepTech Journal, while at the same time spawning the birth of Advanced Diver Magazine, now under the sole ownership of Curt Bowen.

With the increased editorial and image demands of owning a dive publication, Curt expanded his dive skills to include underwater photography and video. His desire to explore new locations and document new discoveries have taken him to the Great Lakes, through Central America and the Bahamas, and as far west as the western Pacific Ocean.

Since closed-circuit rebreathers are excellent tools for gaining extended bottom times, reducing bubble percolation in the cave or wreck environment, reducing decompression requirements, and enabling closer encounters with marine species, adopting rebreathers was a natural evolutionary step for Curt. But using them in remote locations does have its challenges, as Curt will point out. “When you have spent thousands of dollars, traveled great distances, dealing with a litany of weight restrictions along the way, you would like that rebreather you have chosen to work every time,” he says.

The road often taken by Curt is seldom an easy one. “Transporting heavy equipment across rugged terrain, through dry cave passages, or over miles of winding foot paths is a difficult and very taxing task,” he says, “and you gotta bring only what is essential, leaving many luxuries at home. My own KISS Classic is often stripped down to the vary basics to keep it highly simplified, lightweight, and easy to maintain in remote locations.”

During these expeditions, he had become accustomed to extreme streamlining of his diving equipment. The main motivation for choosing the KISS Classic CCR was the absence of chest-mounted counter lungs, providing the cleanest and most streamlined CCR system available. Having no counter lungs on the chest also freed up the standard D-ring locations normally used to attach the extra cameras, strobes, and HID / LED lights needed for photography.

“The reason I have stuck with it,” Bowen says, “is that as a serious cave and wreck explorer it has proven to be an exceptional tool that always gets the job done!”

 

Rick Stanton - Explorer, Rescuer

In cave diving there are two different styles; technical divers who dive in flooded caves but rarely leave the water and cavers who dive but treat the flooded section as a barrier to finding further dry cave. Rick Stanton is a rarity in that he is at the top of both disciplines. Time and again he has exhibited a knack for pushing beyond the limits at which others believed the cave to have ended.

Stanton, a fireman from Coventry learned to dive in 1979 whilst at university with the primary intention of exploring caves and sumps throughout the British Isles. This has been an ongoing process right up to the present day.

In the last 8 years, Rick has been involved in more technical cave diving using rebreathers, (often two at a time) for long penetration and depth. He has concentrated on the long deep siphons of N Europe, mainly in the Lot region of SW France, but also in the other French, Spanish and Italian caves where he specialises in combining caving techniques with long and often deep multiple sump systems, transporting large amounts of diving equipment through the dry sections of the cave in the pursuit of exploration.

Typical have been his dives at the popular site of Emergence de Ressel in southern France. This river bed cave was thoroughly explored in 1990 by the extraordinary Swiss solo cave diver Olivier Isler, who reached a dry cave section. Unable to remove his triple-circuit rebreather system unaided, Olivier swam back, declaring that he thought it unlikely the 2km long, 80m deep sump would ever be passed. using open-circuit equipment. Nine years later, Stanton and diving partner Jason Mallinson made an epic five-hour inward dive followed by a six-hour outward dive, all using open-circuit equipment. In the process, he explored hundreds of metres of dry cave passages to a further sump. This led to a three year project involving dives totalling over 4000m in five sumps & spending two days in the system.

In 2004 when six British soldiers were trapped in a Mexican cave by flood water, Rick Stanton was one of two divers flown out by the British Government to accomplish the rescue. His quiet and confident nature made him the ideal diver for such a task; persuading one of the cavers who was scared of water to make a 180m dive out of the cave!