Founder

William Winram

WATERMAN since the sixties
Born in Vancouver, Canada
Based in Geneva, Switzerland
Founder of THE WATERMEN PROJECT
IUCN GMPP Oceans Ambassador

About-Will HeadshotAbout-Will Hammer

A life on, in and around the water has always been a part of William’s heritage. Born and raised in the Canadian Pacific Northwest in the early 1960s, he learned to freedive with his father, a scuba instructor and Search & Rescue diver. By the age of ten, William was diving to twelve meters on a single breath of air. For the next ten years, he spent most of his time swimming laps in a pool as a competitive swimmer. Occasionally, there was the odd foray to the ocean with his father, but mostly his focus was winning medals in the pool.

A Waterman at heart, William is also an avid big wave surfer and has been fortunate to have many opportunities to swim with dolphins, whales and sharks, the latter being his passion. He discovered freediving was a competitive sport in 2005, and quickly became part of the elite, earning several medals at World Championships and setting countless Pan-American records in virtually all disciplines.

A natural-born explorer, he set a historic first on June 1st, 2007 by becoming the first man to dive the 60-meter deep and 30-meter long Arch in the Blue Hole of Dahab, Egypt, without fins and on a single breath of air.

After three years of competitive freediving, he started lending his breath-hold diving skills to a meaningful cause, ocean conservation in 2008, invited to join underwater photographer and freediving word-record holder Fred Buyle in a shark tagging expedition in Malpelo, Columbia. This was their first collaboration.
William has since been photographing large marine animals and placing tracking devices on these apex predators for researchers.

In 2009, William and Fred Buyle created Ocean Encounters, offering trips with breath-hold diving and an environmental focus. They did this together for a few years until they both decided to spend more time into their respectful fields.

In 2012, wanting to take his participation to ocean conservation projects to the next level and after two years of looking for funding, William Winram founded THE WATERMEN PROJECT.

In 2013, he was named Ocean Ambassador for the Global Marine and Polar Programme of the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature), the largest and oldest environmental NGO in the world.

Today, while William still competes at an international level, he shares his time between underwater filming, teaching specialty seminars on breathing and breath-hold as well as coaching other freediving competitors. He is the holder of two world records and one historic record.

Back on land, Winram also lends himself to public presentations on shark behaviour and conservation, in various parts of the globe, using the media garnered during expeditions to educate the public about true shark behaviour.

For THE WATERMEN PROJECT, William brings his exceptional skills as a storyteller and freediver to help with tagging, filming and photographing sharks during expeditions.