BTU #242 - Launching a new sport with the Underwater Torpedo League (Prime Hall)

On the weekends, we would go play water games and we gained a lot of confidence in the water by doing that.
— Prime Hall

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Why Listen:
Prime has started a new sport, which is now training MMA fighters, NFL players, and even Olympic swimmers.   In this interview we talk about advice to those who are facing an unexpected transition from the military. We talk about what it’s like to start a new sport and get a company off the ground, while pursuing an MBA at the same time. We also talk about what it’s like to start a non-profit organization as well.

About Prime:
Prime Hall is the Founder of Underwater Torpedo League. He served in the Marine Corps for 12 years, 4 years in Infantry and as a Water Survival Instructor, then 8 years as a Marine Raider. He is the Executive Director of The Marine Raider Challenge. He is currently finishing up his MBA at USC.

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Transcript & Time Stamps:


Joining me from Oceanside, CA is Prime Hall. Prime is the Founder of Underwater Torpedo League. He served in the Marine Corps for 12 years, 4 years in Infantry and as a Water Survival Instructor, then 8 years as a Marine Raider. He is the Executive Director of The Marine Raider Challenge. He is currently finishing up his MBA at USC.


What was your transition out of the Marine Corps like?

I was medically separated. I had a herniated disk and some blast injuries.


What was it like going through such a sudden transition?

If it’s clear that you’re getting out, you really need to put all your energy into preparing yourself to get out. Figure out what your skills are and how your experiences in the  military have qualified you for different jobs. Think about what you like to do and would want to do as a job.


What is the Underwater Torpedo League?

It’s a fast growing sport - we launched it only a year ago. The game is played underwater. It’s 5 on 5 at a time with miniature hockey goals. The rules are very simple. We have certified referees to regulate the game. It’s a lot to do with people’s confidence in the water and ability to stay underwater. If you have the torpedo in your possession, you would need to get rid of that before coming up for air. Each match is up to five points and the championship is usually played as a “best out of three”.

The torpedo is about a foot long and a pound and a half. When I was a water survival instructor, we would play keep away with bricks. We saw how that developed our water confidence and also that it was extremely fun. That sparked the Underwater Torpedo League for me.


How do you get better at being able to stay underwater?

We use an acronym FREE - focus, relaxation, economy in motion, and efficient breathing. We work on a lot of different focus and breathing techniques. You’re always monitoring where your heart rate and focus are at.


How did you decide to turn this into a business?

I was a water survival instructor at Camp Pendleton. I needed extra skills before going into Special Operations. I ran thousands of Marines through the training and really figured out what worked and what didn’t with water survival.

My co-founder of UTL is Don Tram. We all went to Marine Raider training together. We had a high attrition rate in our class. There was a water portion of the training. On the weekends, we would play underwater games to build up our confidence in the water. And it was really fun too.


Where is the Underwater Torpedo League and what are your goals for it?

We started about a year ago in Southern California. It’s been an underground thing for us for ten years. So a year ago, we started the first two teams. We filled both the teams and then had our first Aqua Bowl in February 2018. From there, we added more teams and now have four full teams in Orange County. We’re currently expanding into Los Angeles and from there we’ll look at the Bay Area and Las Vegas.

Another part of the company is UTL Elite. We’ve trained over 1,000 swimmers and athletes. This NFL offseason, we ran a training program with football players and that ended up being a great success.

We also work with Team Elite. Team Elite is run by David Marsch and that is filled with Olympic swimmers that are training to go to Tokyo. We also have worked with MMA Fighters including Liz Carmouche who is also a former Marine.


You’re pursuing your MBA at USC. What has that been like doing an MBA while you’re getting a company off the ground?

It’s really been a win-win. I didn’t have much confidence when I got out. The medical review board process sucks. You have a million medical appointments and go from feeling like a valuable member of the team to just going to a bunch of medical appointments. I started the MBA two months after I got out. My classmates are extremely high level people that I’ve learned a lot from. Every assignment I’ve had, I’ve tried to connect to what I’m doing in real life.


You’re the executive director of the Marine Raider Challenge. Can you share more about that?

The idea came from Derek Herrera who was my team leader in Afghanistan. He was wounded with us and got out and launched his own medical device company - Spinal Singularity. As I was getting out he contacted me about The Raider Challenge. He asked me to help get permits from the city. Five months later, I was the Director. The city of San Clemente has been huge in supporting us.

Last year was our first Raider Challenge. We flew in 30 Special Operations guys and Gold Star Family members. Participants did a 2 kilometer ocean swim and then take off on a 12 mile run. Then they had to do various pool challenges. Finally they finished with a field event. Everything went really well and we’re coming up on our second Raider Challenge.

It’s a whole team that works together to ensure the events are a success.


How can people support you?

Go to UTL’s social media or websites. On our website, you can find a lot of information as well as links to our social media pages. We’ll soon be expanding into Los Angeles so if anyone has any good contacts in that area, please let us know.

As far as Marine Raider Challenge, you can check out our website for information about all the events that we have going on.


Is there anything else you’d like to share with listeners?

Anything I’m able to accomplish is because of the team around me - my wife, my co-founders, teams A131, A143, Derek Herrera and USC.

Our biggest goal is to take this to the Olympics. We believe this is like gladiators underwater. In Tokyo, we’d like to do a demonstration.