|Born||11 August 1974
|Died||October 12, 2002
Bayahibe, Dominican Republic
|Occupation||Marine Biologist, Professional Freediver|
|Spouse(s)||Francisco Rodriguez aka. Francisco "Pipin" Ferreras 1999-2002|
Audrey Mestre (11 August 1974 - 12 October 2002) was a French world record-setting freediver.
Born in Saint-Denis, Seine-Saint-Denis, to a family of snorkeling and scuba diving enthusiasts, at age two she was already swimming and by age thirteen was a seasoned scuba diver. She was still in her teens when her family moved to Mexico City and, fluent in the Spanish language, she eventually studied marine biology at a university in La Paz, Mexico.
Relationship with Francisco "Pipín" Ferreras
In 1996 her interest in underwater sports led to her meeting the renowned free-diver Francisco "Pipín" Ferreras. They immediately developed a relationship and Mestre soon moved to Miami, Florida to live with Ferreras. There, she took up serious free-diving and with Ferreras as her instructor was soon reaching record depths. In 1999 the two diving aficionados married and the following year, off the coast of Fort Lauderdale, Audrey Mestre broke the female world record by free diving to a depth of 125 meters (410 ft) on a single breath of air. A year later she broke her own record, by descending to 130 meters (427 ft).
On October 4, 2002, with a dive team under her husband's supervision, she made a practice dive off Bayahibe Beach in the Dominican Republic to the unheard of depth of 166 metres (545 ft). After more deep dive practices, eight days later she prepared to attempt a dive to 171 metres but at the bottom a problem developed with the lift balloon as she started her ascent. A dive that should have been no more than three minutes resulted in her remaining underwater for more than eight and a half minutes. By the time her husband was able to bring her unconscious body to the surface it was too late and she was pronounced dead at a hospital on shore.
In 2006, Venezuelan-born US-citizen Carlos Serra, a former IAFD-partner of Ferreras and co-organiser of Mestre's fatal record attempt, published a book The Last Attempt which received wide acclaim in and out of freediving circuits. In this book, Serra places the guilt for Mestre's death directly on Ferreras, practically accusing him of a crime. According to Serra's depiction, in October 2002 the Ferreras and Mestre marriage was on the brink of divorce after much abuse by Ferreras, possibly due to Ferreras being jealous about the attention Mestre was gaining at his expense. Serra argues that to punish his wife for wanting to leave him, Ferreras deliberately avoided filling the sled's air tank, a vital piece of equipment to ensure Mestre's return to the surface. Several circumstances leave Serra to conclude that Ferreras may not have intended to murder his wife, but that it was his direct irresponsible actions that led to her death.
Awards and accolades
Audrey Mestre was cremated, her ashes scattered at sea. In 2002, she was inducted posthumously into the Women Divers Hall of Fame and in August 2004 a book that tells her story was written by her husband and published under the title The Dive: A Story of Love and Obsession (ISBN 0-06-056416-4).