Poetry in motion » Manila Bulletin Lifestyle


Internet sensation and champion freediver Guillaume Néry with his wife Julie Gautier visit the Philippines and engages with the local diving community


By Terence Repelente

You probably know him from Beyoncé, Arrow Benjamin, and Naughty Boy’s “Runnin’ (Lose It All)” music video, which was nominated in the Brit Awards, or you’ve probably seen his Dean’s Blue Hole base-jumping video on Youtube, which has been viewed 26 million times. He is a competitive freediver and a two-time world champion possessing multiple world records. And he is still in his prime. But there’s more to this person than just fame and talent. French freediver Guillaume Néry is a philosopher. The way he speaks about his sheer passion in freediving will make you forget that he’s an extreme athlete. On most of his talks, speeches, and presentations he speaks about the exhilarating peace of freediving and the amount of psychological training it requires.

“Freediving makes me feel like I’m flying in the water. It gives me this feeling of freedom like I don’t need to move anymore because I’m falling into the bottom. I just need to relax and to be sure I will not resist and contract my muscles and go against the pressure.”

  • Guillaume stressess the importance of breathing exercise in freediving a scene from one of Guillaume’s video

  • A dazzling image of Guillaume Néry underwater

  • A dazzling image of Guillaume Néry underwater

  • Surface Guillaume Néry in action

  • A yoga workshop conducted by Julie Gautier

  • From left: Thibault Guignes, Julie Gautier, Guillaume Néry, Department of Tourism undersecretary for tourism development Benito Bengzon Jr., and Jean-Pol Francis

Guillaume, together with his wife, Julie Gautier, who is also a freediver, has produced and published diving videos that have gone viral all over the internet. One of those is the short film Narcose, which is directed and written by Julie. The title, Narcose or narcosis in English, is a diving term, which refers to the shift in consciousness and hallucinations that occur while diving at immense depths.

In the short film, Julie depicts Guillaume’s mind underwater in a dreamlike world. With elements of magic realism combined with amazing composition, lighting, and technical framing, the film is a masterpiece.

“One day, he started to talk about all these visions that he had. The first narcose that he had was something like you see in the movie, Gremlins. He said he saw a gremlin, smiling and jumping. I collected all of those hallucinations and put them in a movie,” said Julie.

“Narcose is a bit of an explanation on what it truly feels like when you go down and deep,” says Guillaume.

Aside from freediving, Julie and Guillaume are also extremely passionate about filmmaking. Through this, they artistically show the dynamics of freediving and the beauty of the ocean’s depths. Some of their films, which can be viewed online through their Youtube channel, are Ocean Gravity, Y40 Jump, and Haven.

The Diving Capital of ASIA

Through its Dive-Marketing Development Groupt (Dive-MDG), in partnership with Freediving Planet, the Department of Tourism (DOT) is hosting Guillaime Néry Philippine expedition , which ends on Aug. 15. The goal of this expedition is to develop the country’s potential of being the freediving capital of Asia and make Guillaime be the emissary to the global community that will support that development.

“The Philippines has all the potential to be the freediving capital of Asia. That’s why we come here—to promote the Philippines as one of the best places to freedive in the world. And for sure, best place in Asia also. With more than 7,000 islands, it makes this area incredible for diving,” says Guillaime.

Just recently, Guillaume interacted with the local freediving community of the Philippines at Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort and Spa in Cebu. A series of activities, specially made for his fans and freediving enthusiasts, was held throughout the day—a yoga workshop by Julie Gautier, a special screening of his films, and the much-anticipated meet and greet with him.

Until Aug. 3, Guillaume Néry has been exploring some of the most beautiful places in the country—Bohol, Coron, and El Nido. These destinations are fast becoming popular for freedivers because of their deep waters right off the shores and warm and clear waters all year round.

Guillaume Néry’s last destination in the country will take him to Davao, where thrive the Badjaos. He will be filming a short video documentary on the Badjaos of Davao, focusing on their way of life, their connection with water, and of course, their love and skill for freediving.

“The freediving community is growing a lot in the Philippines. From the history and culture there is a natural place for freedivers. Freediving has become popular all over the world and I think the Philippines can really be among the three best places in the world for it.”

For more on Guillaume Néry’s visit to the Philippines, visit Facebook/DOTdivephilippinesand Instagram/dotdivephilippines

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