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Defending the title


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POSTED: Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Oahu resident Kimi Werner is vying to defend her national women's title in this year's U.S. Spearfishing Championships in Malibu, Calif.

“;I feel pretty good about being ready on tournament day, and about the work that I put in,”; Werner said yesterday. “;I think I was definitely worried until a couple of days ago ... but I'm not so worried anymore about whether or not if I'm going to come through for everyone and win it again.”;

The event is scheduled for tomorrow at Leo Carrillo State Beach, where spearfishers from across the country will compete to secure their places in the national standings.

Placing in the top five would bring Werner, 29, one step closer to competing in next year's World Spearfishing Championship in Croatia.

At last year's national championship in Newport, R.I., the former Maui native clinched her No. 1 spot after catching a 33-pound striped bass.

It was her first national competition. The catch was the largest fish in the women's division, and the second largest fish in the competition, which earned her the title of rookie of the year.

A Kapiolani Community College graduate in culinary arts and a prolific painter, Werner was introduced into the sport of spearfishing by her father as a child, which, “;helped to put food on the table,”; she said.

After moving to Oahu and graduating from community college, “;I definitely felt like something was missing in my life,”; Werner said. “;The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I had never actually learned how to dive, and those are my fondest memories.”;

She has competed for four years. Werner's mentor, diving partner and former world championship competitor Wade Hayashi said she has shown “;really good potential,”; and is a “;real natural in the water.”;

“;She's a very talented person, and is very in-tune with life,”; Hayashi said.

“;Kimi is someone who respects and lives true to the Hawaiian culture,”; said Kyle Wortham, director of marketing for Primo Brewing & Malting, her sponsor. “;She is really well respected by her peers in what is predominantly a male-dominated sport, and has received national recognition for what she has done, especially at a fairly young age.”;