We have had the chance to have world champion freediver Guillaume Nery as our host for one week last month.
He was in the phillippines offering freediving clinics in partnership with Palawan Divers and Freediving Planet. This was the opportunity for every passionate freediver from the beginner to the competitor to meet and learn from this freediving legend.
The first thing you notice when meeting Guillaume is how friendly and easy to approach he is. On the « greeting » evening Guillaume shared with us some of his videos. It was a diverse panel which included artistic movies as well as some more technical analysis of freediving. Starting with the now classic « freefall », we got to know more of his work, dove with him on his 125m cwt and even had a glimpse of his latest project which should be released soon. The freedivers participating to the clinic got to know each other and Guillaume, discussing the various videos and exchanging general ideas about freediving. We then talked about the program for the next few days and each divers interests and goals. After a nice dinner at Cadlao restaurant and a good nigh of sleep, everyone was looking forward to get in the water.
Day one, we get on the boat, the weather is perfect and the setting amazing. We are all speechless from the sumptuous scenery we pass through as the boat takes us to the dive spot. Upon arrival, Guillaume presents us his personal breathing and preparation techniques that we practice all together. Finally its time to get a taste of the local waters. Entering the quiet, crystal clear and warm water is an experience itself. Conditions are perfect and we are all decided to take full advantage of it. The first session is more of a refresher giving the divers the time to get back in the water and into freediving mode. After lunch and the mandatory nap we get ready for the second session. Now that Guillaume knows the divers in the water, he tailors a program for each diver and helps us improving our strong points while not forgetting to work on our weaknesses. We head back to El Nido town with the sun setting in our back and plenty of things to discuss in the debriefing held at Palawan Divers. A well deserved dinner together is a nice way to unwind as we chat and joke about the day.
Waking up and having breakfast on the beach is a perfect way to start the day. Before leaving Guillaume explains the points that will be focused on today, namely equalization and undulation. After sharing his stretching routine with us, we start gearing up for our morning session. Putting the accent on proper technique we practice deep equalization and advanced fining. The afternoon will be the continuation of this preparation. Getting everyone ready for tomorrow’s performance. The importance of tactics as indissociable from techniques is also brought forward. Back at the dive shop we debrief today’s dives using video analysis to pinpoint possible areas of improvement. The depth announcement for tomorrow’s performance is done as well. As Guillaume predicted everyone is happy to go home and rest in preparation for the next day.
After 3 days of training and now equipped with the techniques of the record man, everyone was in the mood to do their « perfect dive ». Following the announcement made the day before, each participant starts warming up and preparing their own dive to their target depth. All went great and taking turns each diver comes back from their performance, breaking the surface with a big smile. From what freedivers say, there are very few things that feel as good as getting to a newer depth, doing a smooth and easy dive. You also get a great sense of self accomplishment from it. The afternoon is spent enjoying the results of the time spent diving with Guillaume and refining details, working on the form. Dives look good and feel easier than they did a few days ago. And it is obvious that everyone is pleased with his progress. The usual dinner is taken a bit earlier today as everyone wants to be ready for tomorrow’s sunrise dive.
4:30am the boat is leaving while its still dark and the bio-luminescence of the water reflects the myriad of stars covering El Nido’s sky. We arrive at the dive spot right on time as the first lights of the day bring colors to the sky. The silence and solace you experience at dawn in the still waters of El Nido is unreal. But as soon as you look down you realize why we all woke up this early. Countless fish are already on the move. The incredible rocks and coral formations rivals the beauty of the sculpted limestone cliffs on the other side of the mirror. Now you can really mesure the benefits of this week of training with one of the very best freedivers in the world. Freedivers seemed to belong there as any other marine life would, moving with the same ease and agility. The fish themselves are the ones coming to welcome us. Time stopped for a while as to make this aquatic ballet last a little longer. It’s only almost 2 hours later that we gathered back on the boat with our heads filled with unforgettable images of this magic morning in El Nido. We had breakfast on the boat and it was time to say good bye to each other and to El Nido as this unique freediving experience was coming to an end. We hope to see you all next year. Guillaume said that he will be back with us and maybe even do a freediving movie here in Philippines most remote island, Palawan.