It will be a family event at the 2019 World Freshwater Spearfishing Championships, which will be held at Lake Taupo in New Zealand on March 9 and 10. Todd Genereux, fresh off a gold medal performance at the 2018 Micronesian Games in Yap, will join his daughter, Carmela Tyquiengco, and younger sister, Monique Kehaunani Genereux, at the bulk freshwater catfish competition.
The event attracts top spearos from the USA, New Caledonia, Tahiti, Guam, Hawaii, Italy, Australia, Canada, Ireland and Libya.
Todd Genereux said he is looking forward to the freshwater event at Lake Taupo after finishing second at his last freshwater World Championship at Lake Mead in Las Vegas in 2017.
While the skill set remains the same, Todd Genereux said, there are differences between freshwater and ocean spearfishing.Facing a colder and higher altitude at Lake Taupo, Genereux said he anticipates it will be harder to hold in his breath at the New Zealand competition.
Spearfishing is in his blood, he said. First drawn to the sport as a fisherman, Genereux said he was intrigued by how off-island spearos could bring in large catches during the day time. He began to study the craft and became hooked.
“Probably one of the more rewarding types of fishing – you are in their environment and not at the top of the food chain,” laughed Genereux.
The next generation is now continuing the family legacy. Genereux’s daughter, Carmela Tyquiengco, will be competing for the first time at only 23 years old.
“It’s cool that I get to go with my family,” Tyquiengco said. “I’ve been around it my entire life, so it’s fun to be a part of the competition.”
Tyquiengco will partner with her aunt, Monique Genereux, who has been competing for the last four years.
“We grew up in the water, surfing, fishing, boats…,” explained Monique Genereux who started spearfishing with her brother when she was 13. “The water is something you have to have respect for – we learned that at an early age.”
It was tough at first getting her older brother’s approval, Monique Genereux said, adding, “My brother finally let me do it after he thought he could trust me and took me under his wing.”
Monique Genereux said she is grateful to have been able to travel and become a part of the spearfishing community. Her ultimate goal is to make it on the men’s team and plans to start a Guam women’s spearfishing team in the future.
“Every place you go is different. The fish are different – different rules, different everything … you have to adapt to it and learn your environment. That’s what makes it very challenging,” said Genereux.
She points out, “it’s about more than holding your breath, if you don’t know how to shoot fish, it’s pointless in these competitions.”
With six to seven hours of swimming every day, a competition also requires stamina and endurance.
“These competitions aren’t just about free-diving, it’s also about swimming,” she said. “Very tricky sport, very challenging. Every day we go out we learn something new. We’ve been doing it our whole lives, but it’s one of those sports you never stop learning.”