As the newest member of the New Zealand Order of Merit, 40-year-old freediver William Trudbridge has achieved new “heights” but still has his eyes set on new “depths” and moving forward in the future. In his family, William is not the first person to receive an award. It comes a year after his father, David Trubridge, a renowned furniture designer, received the Officer of the Order of Merit of New Zealand. William, born in England but grew up in Havelock North, New Zealand, said it was a nice surprise to gain recognition for freediving. William now lives with his young family in Japan, but he’s a proud Kiwi.
Trubridge was the first freediver to go deeper than 100 metres (330 ft) and holds the world record in free immersion and constant weight without fins as of 2013.
On February 15, 2019, with a series of 934 breath-hold dives, Trubridge became the first person to complete an ‘underwater crossing’ of one of the main channels, swimming across the Cook Strait. He wore fins and swam at a depth of about 3-5 metres horizontally underwater with a dolphin kick, surfacing only for brief recoveries during which he remained immobile.
The crossing took 9 hours and 15 minutes to raise awareness of the plight of the Hector and Māui dolphins of New Zealand, both of which are threatened with extinction due mainly to over-fishing.
Trubridge was the main subject of a documentary titled “Breathe” which documents the attempts of Trubridge in 2010 to become the first free diver ever to freedive 300 feet on a single breath in the discipline of constant weight without fins.
Via his freediving school and activities, Trudbridge has advanced the growth of the sport internationally. The World’s Total Freediver Award was awarded to him in 2011 and 2012. He is an Ocean Recovery Alliance ambassador, a group that seeks to find solutions and raise awareness of the problem of plastic waste.