Robert has spent more time than most on and in the sea. From his earliest years growing up near the Great Lakes, he has had a special relationship with water, swimming, diving, sailing and windsurfing at an early age. During his college years, Robert worked as a swimming instructor, lifeguard, and sailing instructor, and also sailed competitively at university.

After graduating from law school, Robert moved to California to practice law at one of California’s largest law firms, but at that time also discovered surfing, which was to change his life profoundly. The north pacific was a different world from the Great Lakes, and the beauty and power of the ocean entranced him. Robert gave up sailing and windsurfing for the freedom that surfing provided: minimal gear, and the ability to express himself through lines carved on large northern California waves.

At this time Robert also began to explore further below the sea, becoming certified as a dive master and SCUBA instructor. He taught students in the demanding but beautiful world of Monterey Bay, and explored remote and pristine areas few divers ever see. Wanting to learn more about diving, Robert took a course on freediving, and became hooked on the freedom it provided: the ability to explore the three-dimensional world of the sea with nothing but mask and fins.

Following suggestions from his instructor, then world-record holder Martin Stepanek, Robert started to dive competitively, accepting an invitation from the U.S. freediving association to compete at the 2006 AIDA Freediving World Championships at the Red Sea resort of Hurgada. Robert’s performances were respectable, but he was awed by the depths achieved by the top athletes, and inspired by the camaraderie of the freediving community. When the company he worked for (now part of Visa Inc.) was eliminated in a reorganization at the end of 2007, Robert decided to leave Silicon Valley—a difficult decision for the General Counsel and Executive Management Committee member of a major multinational—and test his limits in the world of competitive freediving.

Robert set his first U.S. record in 2007–Constant Weight No Fins (CNF) 48m–and began teaching freediving. In 2008, he set two more U.S. no-fins records, became the U.S.’ first AIDA Freediving Instructor, and won the prestigious Triple Depth competition in Dahab, Egypt. It was in 2009, however, that Robert caught his stride, breaking records in the remaining competition depth disciplines of Constant Weight (CWT) and Free Immersion (FIM), and in 2010 became the first American to reach 90m (297 feet) under his own power, without the use of air tanks, weighted sleds, or motorized scooters.

In mid-2010, Robert put competitive diving on hold to pursue a Masters of Science in Finance degree at one of Europe’s most prestigious business schools (France’s EDHEC), but he returned to take 6th place overall in the constant no fins event at the 2011 AIDA Depth World Championships in September of 2011; Robert completed his Masters degree in December 2011, graduating in the top 5% of his class. Enjoying both training and competition, Robert set three U.S. freediving records in 2012, and placed third overall at Vertical Blue, the largest individual freediving competition of 2012 (at Dean’s Blue Hole, Bahamas). In December 2012, Robert was elected Vice President of AIDA International, the international governing body for the sport of freediving (where he has served on the Executive Board since 2010). Robert returned to competition in 2014, and in 2015 placed fourth overall at Vertical Blue, setting his 21st United States record in the process.