1982-Bill-Ernst


I started free diving/spearfishing in the early 60’s with my best friend as we were influenced by the TV program ‘Sea Hunt’. I first surfed and fished but was mesmerized by the serenity of getting away from the masses by swimming offshore. I prefer paddling or swimming off shore to a boat to get more exercise, save money on fuel, less pollution and enjoy the serenity and quiet. You should always dive with a buddy but being alone on a calm, clear day is a Zen experience. Brought up Catholic, my Mom was delighted to get fresh fish on Friday instead of Mrs Pauls Fish Sticks. To this day my main diet is fresh fish and would be disappointed if I had to buy some. This subsistence hunter attitude would permeate my psyche to be a careful steward of the oceans to eat what you kill and take care of the rest. As soon as I could, I joined the L.A. City Fire Dept., mainly to get time off for diving as we were only scheduled for 10 days a month. As I always said, the Dept. sponsored me to dive all around the world. I love the weightless environment of the water that allows us to pursue this sport longer than most sports as I will for a while to come. Bill has competed since 1964 when he won the individual and team
Junior National Championships. In 1970 he was the
Individual National Champion and had been on the National
Championship Team in 1970, 1971, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976,
1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1982, 1985, 1989, 1991, 1997, and
1998. Bill has represented the United States 10 times in
World Championships and has placed 4th, 6th and 10th individually. He
holds World Championship Records by shooting 251 fish in
Peru in 1975 and landing the two largest groupers in Brazil
in 1981. He competed in 36 Skindiving National Championships
and has dove several SCUBA Nationals also. He was the
Director of Skindiving for the Underwater Society of America
from 1998 to 2005.

In 2007 he speared the world recorded White Sea Bass at 93.4 pounds shattering the old record by over 12 pounds.

He has been diving his last four Nationals with his daughter Amanda in the Mixed Division.