By Patricia May P. Catan
THE Philippines is home to abundant natural resources and is surrounded by some of the world’s greatest biodiversity, making it a haven for underwater exploration.
Renowned for its numerous dive sites along with its diverse marine life and warm conditions, the country is endowed with tropical, calm waters and astonishing marine life that makes it an ideal place to learn and engage in freediving, an emerging competitive sport and recreational activity worldwide.
For this reason, the Department of Tourism (DOT) aims to make the Philippines the Freediving Capital of Asia, naming French celebrity diver Guillaume Néry as the country’s freediving ambassador.
DOT, through its Dive-Marketing Development Group (Dive-MDG), and in partnership with Freediving Planet, arranged Guillaume Néry’s month-long freediving expedition in the Philippines to develop the potential of making the country a top freediving destination in Asia.
A French national and arguably the most popular freediver at present, Guillaume Néry is perhaps one of the most popular freedivers in today’s world, making him the best choice to promote the development globally.
Supporting the Philippines in its bid to becoming the Freediving Capital of Asia, here are three reasons Guillaume Néry is the Philippines’ chosen freediving ambassador.
1. He is a two-time world champion
A competitive freediver with multiple records under his belt, Guillaume Néry has long set the bar high for freediving.
In 2002, Guillaume became the youngest ever free dive record holder by diving to a depth of 87 meters using the force of his fins alone. Guillaume then became the world team champion in 2008 and the individual world champion in Greece in 2011. He also set the New French record at 125m in 2013.
2. He teaches and conducts trainings on deep diving
Aside from being a competitive freediver, Guillaume teaches and conducts trainings on deep diving at the Centre International de Plongee en Apnee (CIPA) or International Deep Diving Center, the main freediving club in France where he is club president.
In his Philippine Expedition, Guillaume also conducted two three-day workshops in Cebu where he shared his knowledge and techniques on freediving: the first was held last July 15 to 17 in Mactan Island, then last Aug. 4 to 6 in Moalboal.
He produces and publishes his own freediving videos.
Néry, together with his wife, Julie Gautier, has also produced and published videos that have gone viral on the net, most notable of which is his base-jumping video at Dean’s Blue Hole, the world’s second deepest know salt water blue hole with a depth of 202 meters. The video garnered 26 million views.
He was also the star of Beyoncé and Naughty Boy’s Brit Awards-nominated music video for their song Runnin’ (Lose It All) and has been featured as a presenter on freediving in two TED Conferences.
According to a press statement, Néry will head to Davao where he will shoot a short video documentary on the expansive community of Badjaos, whose lives are “rooted and intertwined seamlessly in the waves and motions of the sea.” Néry’s documentary will focus on “their way of life, their connection with water, and of course, their love and skill for freediving.”