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Desert Spearfishing

Exercise Science major Jordan Fleury connects passion to research

Nestled between the warm sandstone cliffs of the Colorado National Monument and the dry eroded slopes of the Book Cliffs, there is a small but passionate group of spearfishermen exploring the lakes and rivers of this high-desert region. One of these spearfishermen, exercise science major Jordan Fleury, has connected his passion for the sport to his kinesiology research by using state-of-the-art equipment available to undergraduate students in the Monfort Human Performance Lab.

Fleury presented his research findings at this year’s Student Showcase, an across-campus event that celebrates undergraduate and graduate student creativity, research, innovation, entrepreneurial endeavors and artistic performances. This year marked the 14th annual showcase and the event saw a record 774 student participants with the largest number of student projects ever submitted.

Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs Chad Middleton, PhD, described the event as “a capstone experience for students to explore an unknown topic and undertake real original research with support from faculty.”

When Fleury started at CMU he was not entirely certain about what he wanted to study, but it didn’t take long for him to figure it out.

“I was curious about exercise science since I was a competitive swimmer in high school, and I suffered several injuries. Once I started taking classes I realized what I really like to do is learn and then apply what I’ve learned. I see research as the rawest form of learning that you can do,” said Fleury.

Fleury’s introduction to spearfishing came from his love for swimming and the friendships he forged at CMU. It all began in 2020 when the College Club Swimming National Championship was cancelled due to the pandemic. Fleury embraced the cancellation as an opportunity to explore new ways to have fun in the water and became scuba certified through a class at CMU. He went on to complete an advanced scuba course and one of his friends in the course invited him on a spearfishing trip to Moki Canyon at Lake Powell. took to spearfishing quickly and was soon entering local and regional competitions.

The following semester at CMU Fleury was enrolled in a structured research course where he gained the confidence and research acumen he needed to conduct kinesiology research. In his senior year Fleury was able to connect his research skills with his passion for spearfishing and with the support of his faculty mentor, Instructor of Kinesiology Nate Bachman, PhD, he designed a research project to learn more about what happens in the body during prolong breath holds.

Fleury was most intrigued by the involuntary breathing movements he experienced while holding his breath underwater. After reviewing current research, he designed an experiment that would look at differences in maximal breath hold duration between recreational spearfishing and a control group as well as exploring a novel way of measuring involuntary breathing movements that occur during those long breath holds using force plates.

Fleury presented his findings at the Rocky Mountain Regional American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) annual meeting and the ACSM’s annual national meeting in Denver in addition to presenting his findings at the Student Showcase. 

Fleury attended high school in Castle Rock, CO and was drawn to CMU by the beautiful natural setting and outdoor recreation opportunities. He stayed thanks to his incredible undergraduate experience, the high-tech Monfort Human Performance Lab and the professors that have given him the confidence to believe in himself.

“You come to CMU and you see the Grand Mesa, the National Monument, the Book Cliffs, and you’re like wow, they’re right there! There are a million opportunities for recreation at your fingertips. Plus, it’s obvious that the faculty at CMU loves what they do and that they enjoy educating the future generation.”

Thanks to his hard work, access to state-of-the-art lab equipment and the support of CMU’s faculty, Fleury will be continuing his studies at Northern Michigan University in pursuit of a master's degree in exercise science where he has also accepted a graduate teaching assistantship position.


Written by Giff Walters