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Guillaume Néry, born on the 11th of July 1982 in Nice, is a French freediving champion, specialized in constant weight, which is the queen of all freediving disciplines (descent and ascent using only fin propulsion). He broke the freediving world record four times and won the world champion title twice.
Nowadays, Guillaume still trains daily and dives deep, but focuses his energy on transmitting his passion to others. He travels around the world to give workshops, clinics, lectures, shoot movies and direct photo shoots.
Guillaume grew up in Nice, by the Mediterranean sea, and discovered freediving by accident when he was 14 years-old. He then decided to join a freediving club, where he met his mentor Claude Chapuis, and his big brother of the depths, Loïc Leferme. They both led him towards the constant weight discipline, using fins and his own physical strength, without the use of a sled. Following the philosophy of the « Nice school », Guillaume was diving a little deeper under the sea each day. At 19 years-old, he joined the French team and broke the French constant weight national record to -82 meters (which also matched the world record at the time). At 20 years-old Guillaume Néry dove to -87 meters in constant weight: he became the youngest world record holder in the history of freediving.
In 2004, Guillaume travelled to Reunion Island, where he broke his second world record, to a depth of -96m.
In 2005, while training for the first freediving world championships organized in his home city of Nice, Guillaume dove to the mythical mark of -100m during a training session. That same year, he reached the depth of -105m, which was Jacques Mayol’s last world record, broken in 1983 in the No Limits discipline (going down with a sled, and coming up with a balloon filled with air).
In 2006, still in Nice, Guillaume broke his third world record to -109m.
The year 2007 was a dark year for Guillaume and for the freediving world, seeing the death of Guillaume’s great friend and French No Limits champion Loïc Leferme, during a training dive.
In 2008 he put his monofin back on with difficulty, and managed the great achievement of bagging two major titles consecutively.
In July, he broke the constant weight world record for the fourth time with -113 meters. Two months later, with the French freediving team (with Morgan Bourc'his and Christian Maldamé) he became Team World Champion in Egypt. It is the first and only gold medal for the French Team in a freediving world championship still to this day.
2011 finally saw the consecration of Guillaume in an individual competition. He won the constant weight AIDA freediving World Champion title, in Kalamata, Greece, the last title that was still missing in his career, with a deep dive to -117 meters.
Between 2012 and 2015, Guillaume continued his progression at depth, went beyond the -120m mark, and became team vice world champion.
On the 8th of September 2015, during a pre-competition leading up to the individual world championships in Cyprus, Guillaume broke his own personal best and easily achieved the second deepest dive in history to -126m, two meters away from the world record, held by his friend Alexey Molchanov. He then decided to tackle the world record two days later, on the last day of this pre- competition, 5 days before the start of the World Championships.
On the 10th of September 2015, Guillaume made an announcement at -129m, but the judges and organizers made a mistake when setting the dive line. Guillaume accidentally dove down to -139m. He had a black-out a few meters from the surface and suffered a lung barotrauma. This accident which could have been deadly ended up being minor, but forced Guillaume to pull out of the world championships.
Once back on his feet, he decided to retire from competitions.
Much more than a sport, for Guillaume, freediving turned out to be a way of life, an exploration of the depths, of the unknown and of human limits, a personal and collective adventure which he calls « inner journey » and not the mere search for performance. Today, Guillaume is fully dedicated to his passion, between training, travels, lectures, workshops, films, photography and writing.
2001: French record: -82 m / constant weight / Nice (France) - team vice world champion - Ibiza/ Spain
2002: World record: -87 m / constant weight / Nice (France)
2004: World record: -96 m / constant weight / Reunion Island (France)
2006: World record: -109 m / constant weight / Nice (France) - 3rd at the team world championships - Hurghada (Egypt)
2008: World record: -113 m / constant weight / Nice (France) - Team world champion - Sharm El Sheikh (Egypt)
2009: 3rd at the individual world championships / constant weight without fins (-78m) - Bahamas 2010: French record: -115 m / constant weight / Bahamas
2011: Individual world champion in constant weight and French record with a dive to -117m in Kalamata (Greece)
2012: French record: -123 m / constant weight / Bahamas - team vice world champion - Nice (France)
2013: French record: -125 m / constant weight / Kalamata (Greece)
2015: French record: -126 m / constant weight / Cyprus
In 2010 Guillaume Néry and his partner Julie Gautier, directed a short film called Free Fall, which was shared all around the world. Watched by more than 30 million internet users, Free Fall became a must-see video for all the sea-lovers. It shows Guillaume walking under water, getting close to an underwater crevice, Dean’s Blue Hole, the deepest blue hole in the world. Suddenly, he decides to throw himself inside and flies down in a dizzying fall towards the abyss.
Following the success of this short film, Guillaume and Julie started directing other movies, which were met with great acclaim every time and built Guillaume’s name worldwide, far beyond the world of diving.
Between 2011 and 2012, they shot Narcosis, directed by Julie Gautier, a short film putting in images Guillaume’s visions when he is subjected to narcosis on his deepest dives. Narcosis was released in 2014.
In 2014, during a trip to Polynesia, the couple started their third short film, Ocean Gravity. Julie shot Guillaume drifting through the Tiputa channel (Rangiroa atoll), like a cosmonaut in orbit around a planet.
Then, they created their company, « Les Films Engloutis »
This short movie was the inspiration for the shooting of Runnin’ (Lose It All) by Naughty Boy ft Beyoncé and Arrow Benjamin in 2015, co-directed by Julie Gautier and Charlie Robbins, depicting a love ballet between Guillaume and the french freediving champion Alice Modolo.
In 2016, Guillaume released another movie, Haven, shot by Jérôme Espla on The Haven, one of the biggest shipwrecks in the Mediterranean, off the coast of Genoa. The movie shows Guillaume and his two freediving champion friends Morgan Bourc’His and Rémy Dubern, acting like underwater James Bonds, taking the deep wreck by storm.
The couple’s latest film used an unexpected background: Y40, the deepest pool in the world at -40m. Julie shot Guillaume gliding around the futuristic scenery of the pool. These images went around the world and were seen more than 15 million times.
- Attention - A Life in Extremes – retrieved on 30. January 2014
- "Watch Naughty Boy's Breathtaking Underwater Video for 'Lose It All'". Radio.com. 17 September 2015. Retrieved 19 September 2015.
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