©Guillaume NERY  ©Damien MICHEL

NERY Respire la Côte d'Azur

Now 38 years of age, the two-time world freediving champion from Nice has an incredible record. Our cool-headed local star submerges us into the beauty of his native Mediterranean with all his love and great humility.

GUILLAUME, WHAT’S YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH THE CÔTE D’AZUR?

It all started here. I was 14, on a bus with a friend, we used to compete to see who could hold their breath the longest. And added to that was a TV report by Umberto Pelizzari, and the penny dropped. My Côte d’Azur allowed me to explore the limits of the human body by venturing into the luxuriant waters of our wonderful region. I tried my hand on the Prom, but at the time the only freediving school in France was in Villefranche-sur-Mer. I quickly understood that I could live my dream in a supervised, structured setting. Villefranche became my playground, and 24 years later it still is!

HAVE YOU GOT ANY ADVICE ABOUT HOW TO START FREEDIVING?

The first thing to do is to contact a structure, club or association. Above all, don’t do what I did, just anyhow! Although at the time I had no choice. There are three cornerstones to the discipline. First of all, patience. You progress slowly and you just have to accept it. Secondly, you don’t dive for results, you shouldn’t be obsessed by depth or time figures. And finally, freediving is a team sport. It can only be done in optimal conditions when there’s a team of people around you. So you’re also diving for the others. There’s a strong spirit of self-sacrifice involved.

WHERE ARE YOUR FAVORITE DIVING SPOTS ON THE CÔTE D’AZUR?

Without a second’s hesitation, all along the Rade de Villefranche-sur-Mer. My deepest dive there was 120 meters. I particularly love diving just opposite the Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat lighthouse. Otherwise another place I love is the beach at the Nice Reserve. That’s my swimming pool! I know every sandbank, every rock… It’s a part of the Côte d’Azur that is still authentic: and the proof is that at home I’ve got a photo from 1855 showing a fisherman on the same beach – and the scenery has hardly changed at all!

You’ll also love