AUSTIN -- Tanya Streeter’s love for the ocean runs deep, literally and figuratively.
"The sea has always been an important part of my life," she said.
Her record free dive of 525 feet, set near the Turks and Caicos Islands more than a decade ago, still stands.
“It wasn’t until a journalist on the boat afterward said to me, 'You’re the first woman in any sport to surpass a men’s world record,'" she reflected to KVUE.
A man finally took back the men’s record, but the women’s mark still belongs to Streeter.
Ironically a move to Austin in 2000, hundreds of miles from any ocean, was a key point in her free diving career.
"In many ways being here and doing land-based training made me a better athlete," she said.
That training included free dives at Lake Travis. She would, after getting permission, dive to the bottom of the lake on a single breath.
"Lake Travis is dark and it’s cold. You get a certain depth under water [and] you don’t hear the turbines…you feel them" she said.
Streeter retired from free diving in the summer of 2006 and welcomed a daughter two years later. She now shares her love for the ocean with her daughter and everyone else in a different way. She’s working to preserve it.
"The issue of plastic pollution is so enormous. When that opportunity came around I realized that this is it, this is the one," she said.
Streeter serves as a patron for Plastic Oceans. It's a foundation based in the United Kingdom which hopes to resolve the global problem of plastic pollution.
"I’m not kidding when I say that the fish you’re eating is polluted with toxins that are only found in plastics. The global warming of our age," she said.
At 525 feet deep Tanya blew a kiss to the ocean. Back then it was her way of showing her love for the sea. Her work now may not grab as many headlines, or fascinate fans like her free diving career.
But for her it’s just as, if not more, important.