To show us the wonders of the big blue, on Tuesday, April 12 and 19, 2022, France 2 will be broadcast at 21:10. Mediterranean, an odyssey for a lifetime, a six-episode prestigious documentary series. To bring this amazing research to life, the director invited Guillaume Néry, a former deep sleep apnea champion.
TeleZ.fr: How did you become an apnea champion?
Guillaume Nery: At the age of 14, in order to spend time with a friend on the bus, having fun by holding my breath as long as possible, I found that I had excellent lung capacity. I was already quite athletic, but this revelation pushed me to develop this predisposition. Since I lived in Nice, deep diving has become the best way to combine my passion for sports and discovering the unknown in a physical challenge.
Why did you agree to participate in this series?
We wanted to tell about the Mediterranean as a beautiful story. With this series, I wanted to tell about this world below. Often, for most, the Mediterranean Sea is a beautiful blue expanse, but ignores all of its underwater beauty. All my research is aimed at revealing the vitality, but also the fragility of this Mediterranean. In addition, in some episodes, such as monk seals, a species that has practically disappeared, I had the opportunity to intervene and thus enrich my knowledge of this sea. Today, I always strive to better understand this Mediterranean universe and this series has helped me satisfy this curiosity.
Guillaume Néry: “We wanted to tell the Mediterranean as a beautiful story”
Do you have a working method for getting very close to animals like sperm whales or monk seals?
There is always an adjustment period to learn to listen and observe the behavior of the animal. As freedivers we are quite free, quite reactive, very quiet and very cautious. When we encounter each animal, we almost instinctively learn to behave accordingly. For example, to get close to monk seals that are hunted by humans and are now very afraid of them, one had to proceed carefully, gradually and carefully, in order to arouse the animal’s curiosity and finally create interaction. This approach was exciting because it places us as animals in the animal kingdom.
What marine animal impressed you the most?
All marine mammals. I was lucky enough to meet big fish, especially sharks, which are generally scary because they represent danger underwater when they are far from the killers we imagine. I also had the opportunity to experience unusual face-to-face encounters where you just find yourself like a mammal against another mammal, with humpback whales, pilot whales and sperm whales.
Guillaume Neri: “Underwater I learned to look for peace, inner peace and harmony”
How do you feel underwater?
It all depends on the sea and the depth you reach. In this extreme and hostile universe due to pressure, cold and darkness, we have no choice but to stay very focused, mentally fully present to avoid experiencing this journey as suffering. Under water, I feel good, because I have learned to look for peace, inner peace and harmony.
Has your way of freediving changed over time?
Yes, it is quite. At first, I dedicated myself to this purely sporty, high-level approach, caring only about performance. My diving accident in 2015 allowed me to take a step back and then stop competing to unleash my creative ideas and discover the sea from a different angle. Having the sea as a field of self-expression, it was time for me to take off my blinders to look at the richness and beauty of this underwater world.
Why, after a long reluctance, did you become a fan of yoga?
The practice of yoga is very beneficial, because it allows you to get even deeper into your body, your breathing and self-control, which are necessary for immersion.
Has freediving changed your lifestyle?
Yes, completely. March 30 I released a book aquatic nature (Editions Artaud) around this connection that I made with the sea and in which I tell how apnea has enriched my philosophy of life and, after the accident, my evolution in my relationship with water.
Mediterranean, an odyssey for a lifetime, Tuesday 12 and 19 April 2022 at 21:10 on France 2.