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  • Five, four, three, two, one.

  • Official top.

  • Plus one, two, three, four, five

  • six, seven, eight, nine, ten.

  • Guillaumery, France.

  • Constant weight, 123 meters,

  • three minutes and 25 seconds.

  • National record attempt.

  • 70 meters.

  • [123 meters]

  • (Applause)

  • (Video) Judge: White card. Guillaumery! National record!

  • Guillaumery: Thank you.

  • (Applause)

  • Thank you very much, thanks for the warm welcome.

  • That dive you just watched is a journey --

  • a journey between two breaths.

  • A journey that takes place between two breaths --

  • the last one before diving into the water,

  • and the first one, coming back to the surface.

  • That dive is a journey to the very limits of human possibility,

  • a journey into the unknown.

  • But it's also, and above all, an inner journey,

  • where a number of things happen,

  • physiologically as well as mentally.

  • And that's why I'm here today,

  • to share my journey with you and to take you along with me.

  • So, we start with the last breath.

  • (Breathing in)

  • (Breathing out)

  • As you noticed, that last breath in is slow, deep and intense.

  • It ends with a special technique called the carp,

  • which allows me to store one to two extra liters of air in my lungs

  • by compressing it.

  • When I leave the surface, I have about 10 liters of air in my lungs.

  • As soon as I leave the surface the first mechanism kicks in:

  • the diving reflex.

  • The first thing the diving reflex does is make your heart rate drop.

  • My heart beat will drop from about 60-70 per minute

  • to about 30-40 beats per minute

  • in a matter of seconds; almost immediately.

  • Next, the diving reflex causes peripheral vasoconstriction,

  • which means that the blood flow will leave the body's extremities

  • to feed the most important organs:

  • the lungs, the heart and the brain.

  • This mechanism is innate.

  • I cannot control it.

  • If you go underwater, even if you've never done it before,

  • you'll experience the exact same effects.

  • All human beings share this characteristic.

  • And what's extraordinary

  • is that we share this instinct with marine mammals --

  • all marine mammals: dolphins, whales, sea lions, etc.

  • When they dive deep into the ocean, these mechanisms become activated,

  • but to a greater extent.

  • And, of course, it works much better for them.

  • It's absolutely fascinating.

  • Right as I leave the surface,

  • nature gives me a push in the right direction,

  • allowing me to descend with confidence.

  • So as I dive deeper into the blue,

  • the pressure slowly starts to squeeze my lungs.

  • And since it's the amount of air in my lungs that makes me float,

  • the farther down I go, the more pressure there is on my lungs,

  • the less air they contain and the easier it is for my body to fall.

  • And at one point, around 35 or 40 meters down,

  • I don't even need to swim.

  • My body is dense and heavy enough to fall into the depths by itself,

  • and I enter what's called the free fall phase.

  • The free fall phase is the best part of the dive.

  • It's the reason I still dive.

  • Because it feels like you're being pulled down

  • and you don't need to do anything.

  • I can go from 35 meters to 123 meters without making a single movement.

  • I let myself be pulled by the depths,

  • and it feels like I'm flying underwater.

  • It's truly an amazing feeling -- an extraordinary feeling of freedom.

  • And so I slowly continue sliding to the bottom.

  • 40 meters down,

  • 50 meters down,

  • and between 50 and 60 meters, a second physiological response kicks in.

  • My lungs reach residual volume,

  • below which they're not supposed to be compressed, in theory.

  • And this second response is called blood shift,

  • or "pulmonary erection" in French.

  • I prefer "blood shift."

  • (Laughter)

  • So blood shift -- how does it work?

  • The capillaries in the lungs become engorged with blood --

  • which is caused by the suction --

  • so the lungs can harden

  • and protect the whole chest cavity from being crushed.

  • It prevents the two walls of the lungs from collapsing,

  • from sticking together and caving in.

  • Thanks to this phenomenon, which we also share with marine mammals,

  • I'm able to continue with my dive.

  • 60, 70 meters down, I keep falling, faster and faster,

  • because the pressure is crushing my body more and more.

  • Below 80 meters,

  • the pressure becomes a lot stronger,

  • and I start to feel it physically.

  • I really start to feel the suffocation.

  • You can see what it looks like -- not pretty at all.

  • The diaphragm is completely collapsed, the rib cage is squeezed in,

  • and mentally, there is something going on as well.

  • You may be thinking, "This doesn't look enjoyable.

  • How do you do it?"

  • If I relied on my earthly reflexes --

  • what do we do above water when there's a problem?

  • We resist, we go against it.

  • We fight.

  • Underwater, that doesn't work.

  • If you try that underwater, you might tear your lungs,

  • spit up blood, develop an edema

  • and you'll have to stop diving for a good amount of time.

  • So what you need to do, mentally, is to tell yourself

  • that nature and the elements are stronger than you.

  • And so I let the water crush me.

  • I accept the pressure and go with it.

  • At this point, my body receives this information,

  • and my lungs start relaxing.

  • I relinquish all control, and relax completely.

  • The pressure starts crushing me, and it doesn't feel bad at all.

  • I even feel like I'm in a cocoon, protected.

  • And the dive continues.

  • 80, 85 meters down,

  • 90,

  • 100.

  • 100 meters -- the magic number.

  • In every sport, it's a magic number.

  • For swimmers and athletes and also for us, free divers,

  • it's a number everyone dreams of.

  • Everyone wishes one day to be able to get to 100 meters.

  • And it's a symbolic number for us,

  • because in the 1970s, doctors and physiologists did their math,

  • and predicted that the human body would not be able to go below 100 meters.

  • Below that, they said, the human body would implode.

  • And then the Frenchman, Jacques Mayol --

  • you all know him as the hero in "The Big Blue" --

  • came along and dived down to 100 meters.

  • He even reached 105 meters.

  • At that time, he was doing "no limits."

  • He'd use weights to descend faster and come back up with a balloon,

  • just like in the movie.

  • Today, we go down 200 meters in no limit free diving.

  • I can do 123 meters by simply using muscle strength.

  • And in a way, it's all thanks to him, because he challenged known facts,

  • and with a sweep of his hand, got rid of the theoretical beliefs

  • and all the mental limits that we like to impose on ourselves.

  • He showed us that the human body has an infinite ability to adapt.

  • So I carry on with my dive.

  • 105, 110, 115.

  • The bottom is getting closer.

  • 120,

  • 123 meters.

  • I'm at the bottom.

  • And now, I'd like to ask you to join me and put yourself in my place.

  • Close your eyes.

  • Imagine you get to 123 meters.

  • The surface is far, far away.

  • You're alone.

  • There's hardly any light.

  • It's cold --

  • freezing cold.

  • The pressure is crushing you completely --

  • 13 times stronger than on the surface.

  • And I know what you're thinking:

  • "This is horrible.

  • What the hell am I doing here?

  • He's insane."

  • But no.

  • That's not what I think when I'm down there.

  • When I'm at the bottom, I feel good.

  • I get this extraordinary feeling of well-being.

  • Maybe it's because I've completely released all tensions

  • and let myself go.

  • I feel great, without the need to breathe.

  • Although, you'd agree, I should be worried.

  • I feel like a tiny dot, a little drop of water,

  • floating in the middle of the ocean.

  • And each time, I picture the same image.

  • [The Pale Blue Dot]

  • It's that small dot the arrow is pointing to.

  • Do you know what it is?

  • It's planet Earth.

  • Planet Earth, photographed by the Voyager probe,

  • from 4 billion kilometers away.

  • And it shows that our home is that small dot over there,

  • floating in the middle of nothing.

  • That's how I feel

  • when I'm at the bottom, at 123 meters.

  • I feel like a small dot,

  • a speck of dust, stardust,

  • floating in the middle of the cosmos,

  • in the middle of nothing, in the immensity of space.

  • It's a fascinating sensation,

  • because when I look up, down, left, right, in front, behind,

  • I see the same thing: the infinite deep blue.

  • Nowhere else on Earth you can experience this --

  • looking all around you, and seeing the same thing.

  • It's extraordinary.

  • And at that moment,

  • I still get that feeling each time, building up inside of me --

  • the feeling of humility.

  • Looking at this picture, I feel very humble --

  • just like when I'm all the way down at the bottom --

  • because I'm nothing,

  • I'm a little speck of nothingness lost in all of time and space.

  • And it still is absolutely fascinating.

  • I decide to go back to the surface, because this is not where I belong.

  • I belong up there, on the surface.

  • So I start heading back up.

  • I get something of a shock

  • at the very moment when I decide to go up.

  • First, because it takes a huge effort to tear yourself away from the bottom.

  • It pulled you down on the way in,

  • and will do the same on the way up.

  • You have to swim twice as hard.

  • Then, I'm hit with another phenomenon known as narcosis.

  • I don't know if you've heard of that.

  • It's called nitrogen narcosis.

  • It's something that happens to scuba divers,

  • but it can happen to free divers.

  • It's caused by nitrogen dissolving in the blood,

  • which causes confusion

  • between the conscious and unconscious mind.

  • A flurry of thoughts goes spinning through your head.

  • You can't control them, and you shouldn't try to --

  • you have to let it happen.

  • The more you try to control it, the harder it is to manage.

  • Then, a third thing happens:

  • the desire to breathe.

  • I'm not a fish, I'm a human being,

  • and the desire to breathe reminds me of that fact.

  • Around 60, 70 meters,

  • you start to feel the need to breathe.

  • And with everything else that's going on,

  • you can very easily lose your ground

  • and start to panic.

  • When that happens, you think, "Where's the surface?

  • I want to go up. I want to breathe now."

  • You should not do that.

  • Never look up to the surface --

  • not with your eyes, or your mind.

  • You should never picture yourself up there.

  • You have to stay in the present.

  • I look at the rope right in front of me, leading me back to the surface.

  • And I focus on that, on the present moment.

  • Because if I think about the surface, I panic.

  • And if I panic, it's over.

  • Time goes faster this way.

  • And at 30 meters: deliverance.

  • I'm not alone any more.

  • The safety divers, my guardian angels, join me.

  • They leave the surface, we meet at 30 meters,

  • and they escort me for the final few meters,

  • where potential problems could arise.

  • Every time I see them, I think to myself,