30 Second Snapshot
Name: William Winram
Your home base: Geneva, Switzerland
Aside from a passport, the three items you always travel with: A notebook & pen, a reusable water bottle and my music
Your perfect meal on the road – what and where: Wood-fire raclette in the Swiss Alps
The best thing you’ve read in the last 6 months: Joseph Campbell’s “The Power of Myth”. I read it for the first time when I was 19 and picked it up again this past year… a great read!
Your travel soundtrack: I create a playlist during each expedition that I find fits the mood of the expedition – it starts with the first song which comes to mind and grows from there
The one place you’ve been that you think everyone should visit, and why: Isla Guadalupe, Mexico – stark, foreboding, beautiful and the ocean is full of Great white sharks
The one place you’ll always return to, no matter how many times: Isla Guadalupe
The one Never-Have-I-Ever destination that you hope to visit, and why: Anywhere on the planet that I have not yet visited – Nepal, Antarctica, Alaska & Greenland to name a few
The one thing that most surprised you on your last trip: The amount of plastic and the lack of sea life in what should have been a healthy and rich ecosystem
Meet William Winram, the world record-holding freediver who is re-defining the human limits of ocean exploration. Whether he is descending to 145 metres on a single breath of air or swimming side-by-side with Great white sharks, his passion for the sea is immeasurable. Translating his experiences through a powerful combination of photography and the art of storytelling, we recently met with William to talk travel tales and find out what lies ahead…
What did your “This is What I’m Going to Do” moment look like?
I am not sure if there has been one single moment… I do know that in my early 20’s I realised that I could not live away from the ocean for more than six months. It was so clear to me, but I have not done one single thing in this lifetime but a collection of many varied jobs and careers that all seemed to have organically grown out of the other. I have been freediving and diving since I was a small boy but I never really thought I would be doing what I am doing now. I discovered the competitive sport by chance and for ocean exploration I have always been doing that and always tried to make a difference in whatever way possible.
How would you describe a typical day?
Wake up early, get in an hour or two of training then a good breakfast and down to work. I review the previous days’ notes, then lunch, meetings, more training then dinner and bed.
What is your favourite part of what you do?
There are so many aspects… I love that I am invited to speak with businesses, schools and the public and that these talks can – and do – inspire people to make positive changes in their lives. All of this comes down to storytelling which is something I absolutely love doing – maybe storytelling is my favourite thing. I also love the challenge of preparing for and executing a deep dive. I am about 20 - 30 years older than my competitors and yet I am still able to find the ways and means to improve, which is challenging.
As an avid traveller where in the world inspires you?
I seem to find inspiration everywhere that I travel – sometimes it is a spectacular building, a museum and art gallery or an incredible view in a remote location. Other times I find it through people that I meet during my travels. In general, I think it is hard not to be inspired when you travel, especially if you spend some time off the beaten path.
As a world record-breaking freediver (reaching 145 metres for a ‘breathtaking’ total time of 3 minutes and 8 seconds…), what is going through your mind prior to and during a dive?
Prior to the dive it is all about checking in on myself, how I feel, my resting heart rate, my general overall state of readiness which I measure based on my regular preparation – making sure I am ready for the dive. Then I need to check in with my organiser, the judges and we set a start time for the first warm ups. Once in the water, it is more focusing on the mental space and getting my mammalian dive reflex ready for the dive… Once I start the dive, I am focused solely on equalising to the depths and the management of the limited air I have to do that with. Once I reach the bottom, I know that the hard work starts and I begin the long swim back. When my safety divers meet me I know I am close to the surface and I begin to prepare for the exit, the surface protocol and the finish to the dive.
You also have a passion for shark conservation so what is the main misconception that you would like to change?
The initial misconception is that sharks are not out there lurking to attack humans, quite the contrary. Furthermore, their importance to the health of the oceans and maintaining a healthy ecosystem is paramount for the survival of humanity.
If you weren’t freediving and exploring the world’s oceans what would you be doing instead?
I am not sure as every career turn has been a natural progression. I am certain of one thing though – most likely it would involve the ocean since I do not last more than six months away from it before it beckons me.
Please share with us one of your favourite snap-shots from the past 12 months.
I was in Raja Ampat to dive and photograph manta rays, there was heavy current in the one location which had manta rays and I remember dropping down towards the bottom, silently levelling out on the sand at 17m, slowly raising my camera as a giant manta ray swam over top of me about a metre above, then moving ever so smoothly to reposition to capture a photo of the second manta ray which was a bit to my right, then again rolling over to my left to capture the third manta ray. The photos will be submitted to the international database and used to track and identify unique individual mantas.
Finally, where have you set your sights on next?
I have a couple expeditions I am working on that will involve some film projects and new and exciting locations but it is too soon to talk about them, as well as some competitive goals that I would like to cross off the list in the next 18 months…