||A major contributor to this article appears to have a close connection with its subject. (February 2010)|
Heaney-Grier was born in Duluth, Minnesota to Bill and Renee Heaney. Her parents divorced when she was six years old. When she was eleven years old her mother remarried to Nelson Grier and in the summer of 1989, Heaney-Grier, along with her sister Erin, mother and new stepfather moved to the Florida Keys. When she was 16 years old, she legally changed her last name to Heaney-Grier.
In 1996 at the age of 18 Heaney-Grier established the first constant weight free-diving record in the United States with a dive to 155 feet (47.26 meters) on a single breath of air. The following year she beat her own record with a dive to 165 feet (50.3 meters), When she set her second US record, the women's world record for free diving was 204.5 feet.
In 1998 Heaney-Grier captained the first United States Freediving Team to compete in the World Cup Freediving Championships held in Sardinia, Italy. In 2000, Heaney-Grier was inducted as part of the inaugural roster into the Women Divers Hall of Fame.
Heaney-Grier began modeling when she was 14 years old when a photographer in Miami Beach, Florida showed her photograph to a modeling agency. Shortly after Heaney-Grier attended a modeling competition hosted by the Modeling Association of America International (MAAI) in New York City where she won in the overall Most Photogenic category and placed first in the Bathing Suit category. Over the years Heaney-Grier has modeled for, and been featured in, numerous catalogs and magazines including People, Outside, Life, Vogue Japan, Abercrombie & Fitch. Heaney-Grier has also been a public relations ambassador for several major companies including Alberto VO5 and OMEGA Watches.
In the late 1990s, Heaney-Grier partnered with her diving trainers, Manny Puig and Mark Rackley (who was at the time also Heaney-Grier's boyfriend), filming underwater encounters with animals such as alligators and sharks. Rackley had worked as a spearfisherman and underwater videographer, and Puig had experience as an animal handler on movie sets and had learned how to ride and handle alligators in their environment. Together with Heaney-Grief, they formed a company named Extreme Encounters, and the footage they produced led to the Animal Planet series titled Extreme Contact. The 20 episode series featured the trio in cage-free encounters with sharks, alligators and other aquatic wildlife. They also worked on a USA Network one hour special titled "Deep Diver: Tiger Shark Odyssey". In 2002, Heaney-Grier went on to other projects.
In 1999 Heaney-Grier had a guest-starring role as a free-diver on an episode of Baywatch, and a starring role on a UPN movie of the week, Avalon:Beyond the Abyss, produced by Viacom Productions. Heaney-Grier has been a featured guest on the Late Show with David Letterman, London's TFI Friday, Primetime Live with Anderson Cooper and Ripley's Believe it or Not. Heaney-Grier also hosted Saturn's Gravity Files, covering the Gravity Games in 2004, and the Mad Fin Shark Series for ESPN in 2008.
In 2003, Heaney-Grier was sought by the director of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Gore Verbinski, to perform an underwater stunt for Keira Knightley. Heaney-Grier has also performed underwater stunts, including scuba diving, free diving and working with sharks, as a stunt double for Jessica Alba and Ashley Scott in Into the Blue, and for actress Olivia Wilde in Turistas.
In 2005 Heaney-Grier starred in a coral reef conservation documentary titled Reflections for NOAA and the United States National Marine Sanctuary, filmed by Bob Talbot and Peter Zuccarini. Heaney-Grier was a contributing author to the Blue Planet book published in Japan for Omega Watches and has also been featured in books such as A Family of Women by Caroline Jones, Freedive! by Terry Maas and David Sipperly, and Homo Delphinus: The Dolphin within Man by Jacques Mayol. Since 1997 Heaney-Grier has worked as a motivational speaker, appearing at grades schools and with groups such as PACE for Girls (an organization in South Florida that works with troubled teens) and Habitat for Humanity.
Heaney-Grier married Silas Binkley on June 6, 2010. For seven years she has been the guardian of a rescued wolf-dog hybrid named Rontu, and they are in the process of becoming a registered team for animal-assisted therapy work. Heaney-Grier is in her third year of college at the University of Colorado at Boulder in Boulder, Colorado and is set to graduate in 2011 with degrees in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Anthropology.
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