Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Longhairlovers Interview With Tanya Streeter

 Tanya Streeter, courtesy redefineyourlimits.com

Tanya Streeter is a natural, whether it's growing gorgeous, long hair, or holding her breath longer and diving deeper than any other human on record.

“I'm not very good with my hair and don't think about it much,” Streeter said from her home in Austin, Texas. “When I know I'm going to be in the water, I just coat it with a ton of conditioner, braid it, and wear it down my wet suit.”

This simple approach to hair care has worked well for Streeter, and her self-described “butt-length, bone straight, natural blonde hair” has always been in incredible condition. So much so that the folks at Locks of Love jumped at her offer to donate 10 inches for a child's wig.

When we spoke for this interview, Streeter had just returned to the United States from three weeks of diving in Cyprus. Born and raised in the Cayman Islands, Streeter said it took a while before she even realized she had an incredible talent for breath-hold diving.

“My friends and I swam a lot growing up,” she said. “They actually pointed out that I could hold my breath for longer than anyone else.”

Streeter began competing on the international circuit when she was 24 years old and has set 10 world records since.

She holds the record for Variable Weight diving (using a ballast weight to descend and her own strength to ascend) at 122 meters/400 feet and No Limits diving (descending with the help of a ballast weight and ascending via the method of her choice: a balloon, a diving suit, or a vest with inflatable compartments) at 160 meters/524 feet.

In 2002, Streeter was dubbed  “The World's Most Perfect Athlete” by Sports Illustrated, and is sponsored by TAG Heuer, Red Bull, Yamamoto Corp., and the Islands of Turks & Caicos.
Streeter's photo ads for her sponsors have always featured her gorgeous, extra-long hair, so her decision to donate it was a very serious – and personal – one.

“My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and I wanted to donate my hair to make a beautiful wig for her,” Streeter said. “My mom opted for the instant gratification of an off-the-shelf wig which worked out great, and my husband shaved his head in sympathy for her, but I had already decided that donation was a great thing to do with my excess hair.”

Streeter did a Web search for “hair donation,” where she learned about Locks of Love and sent them an email. The organization was thrilled to find out that Streeter was a world-class athlete who would help generate international publicity for the cause.

“There were four photographers and two news crews there to record the big snip,” Streeter said. In addition to the 10 inches cut that day, Streeter donated a 16-inch braid she had cut when she was 9 years old.

“My hair was tailbone length when I was 9. I was heading to boarding school in England and decided to get my hair cut in a pixie. The hairdresser cried,” Streeter said.
Remarkably, the 22-year old braid she saved remained in excellent condition, and Locks of Love gladly accepted it as well.

Streeter's hair now falls to the middle of her back and she says it's much easier to manage while diving.
“I would consider growing it longer again in the future so I could make another donation,” she said.
This generous and humble attitude has endeared Streeter to her fans in the diving world. Far from reveling in her success, Streeter said she feels overwhelmed when she becomes the first person to achieve a new diving record.

“It's so exciting to be on the edge of our individual potential as human beings,” Tanya said. “The implications are very powerful and keep me grounded. We're just beginning to learn what we're capable of in this evolutionary process.”