I AM WATER has its beginnings in the ancient practice of freediving. If you’re unfamiliar with freediving, just think extreme snorkeling.

Freediving is the sport of diving down underwater with only the breath in your lungs. Freediving has been evolving as long as people have been swimming underwater. From very early on, humans have used their diving ability to live off the oceans and play under the waves.

Modern competitive freedivers push the limits of the human body to dive deeper into the oceans, and modern scientists 

frequently show up at freediving competitions excited to study the effects of pressure and hypoxia on the human body. Over the years scientists have found the human body has a memory of being in the water. The body undergoes metabolic changes, blood shifts, and some unimportant organs in the body begin to function in very important ways.

The fact every human body has these built-in diving systems made South African freediver, Hanli Prinsloo, stop and think. Why are our bodies so well adapted to dive before we even put our face in the water? It sure seemed like our physiology wanted us to spend time underwater.

The I AM WATER movement continues to grow today. Join us in celebrating healthy oceans and building connections to protect oceans for the future. Wherever you fit in we would love to have you participate.


Hanli had already broken all of South Africa’s freediving records but diving up and down a rope to various depths was losing its appeal. The ocean had so much more to offer and she didn’t need another record to know her body was capable of diving down 65 meters. That’s when Hanli began using her body’s diving abilities to experience and interact with the whales, dolphins, seals, sharks, and other creatures that live in the ocean wilderness.


"   When a seal pup comes to play with you in its kelp forest home you begin to feel a stronger connection to the sea. It’s hard to not realize how special the oceans are when acrobatic seals tease you into playing with them through towering emerald kelp columns.  By the end of your dive the only reason you leave the water is because you are too cold to keep diving!



Hanli’s encounters deepened her desire to take care of the oceans, and she wanted others to experience this connection as well. This drive led to the founding of I AM WATER as a South African Non-Profit Organization in 2010. She immediately began focusing her work on youth in her hometown of Cape Town, South Africa and the more northern coastal city of Durban. Her first group of Cape Town kids came from the township of Masiphumelele. Although these kids began having very little ocean experience and knowing very little about the ocean, they finished their time with Hanli in love with the ocean and the seals and the kelp forest. From this point forward the
I AM WATER movement began to spread.


The I AM WATER movement continues to spread today. Please join us in celebrating healthy oceans and building connections to protect and preserve oceans for the future. Wherever you fit in we would love to have you participate.