Guillaume Néry, world champion free diver talks with Gentlemans Butler


Guillaume Néry, world champion free diver talks with Gentlemans Butler

Like a fish out of water…

Gentleman’s Butler had the chance to meet a world champion diver to hear his thoughts.

Plunge with Gentleman’s Butler into the secret world of Guillaume Néry, the famous French diver who broke his personal record last June by achieving the incredible depth of 124 meters under the sea.

Guillaume Néry is a 31 year old French free driver specialising in Constant Weight free diving.


Guillaume Nery French free diver
Guillaume Nery French free diver

Guillaume has a real gentleman endorses perfectly the values of the watch making brand Ball Watch.

Dive and see… 

Marine: Good afternoon Guillaume, could you explain to our readers what your discipline is and can you please briefly describe it.

Guillaume: Constant weight. I go down with a monofin without any assistance. In this respect it is not like “Le Grand Bleu”. It is the puriste discipline.

Marine: What are your personal records for free diving?

Guillaume: I broke my personal record this June in Crete by reaching a depth of 124m. Though this is the French record, it is only second to the world record of 126m, achieved by the Russian diver Alexey Molchanov. On my third day in Crete I dived to 127m, but for this dive to be validated by the judges you have to remove all facial equipment and show the ‘ok’ sign within fifteen seconds of resurfacing, which I failed to do due to a very short black out.

On Saturday I am travelling to Kalamata, Greece, to start my training for the world championship, which spans from 15th – 23rd September, where I aim to beat the world record.

Guillaume Nery French free diver
Guillaume Nery French free diver


Marine: What was your first attraction to this sport? How do you explain this attraction to the depths?

Guillaume: The first time I realised my attraction to the sport was when I was fourteen and playing a game with a friend to hold our breath under water. I discovered my lungs had a very good capacity. As I lived near the Mediterranean Sea, I used this ability to explore. I loved the idea of exploring a new world/territory in the truest possible way. The thought of redefining human limits and going where no one has gone before is more attractive to me than the sport or the competitions.

Marine: Have you always felt comfortable in water?

Guillaume: When I was younger I was very bad at swimming. I always felt like I was sinking. I was more interested in sports on land, such as hiking or cycling. However, as soon as I started to practice diving this sinking feeling suddenly felt very harmonious with the water.


Marine: While most extreme sports evoke impulsivity, adrenaline and the risk of sudden death,free divingwelcomesslow deathinthe collective psyche. What relationship do you have with risk?

Guillaume: The No.1 rule when it comes to free diving is to always dive with a group of professionals. The risk is very very low when diving with the correct team. We know how to react to every situation and always have a plan A and a plan B. You have to improve very very slowly. If you dive to 120m one day, you try 122m the next day, and 124m the day after. Avoid chasing numbers – listen to your body! We are not playing with death and if you respect that, it is a normal sport. For example, the first free diving competition was in 1996, and with about 10,000 dives having taken place since then there has never been a fatal accident.


Marine: When do you know to return to the surface? Does the “narcosis” of the depth disrupt your own perception?

Guillaume: The decision of when to resurface is not made when under the water. The depth of the dive is decided before diving, and based according to what we did during the previous training. During the competitions, a measure is lowered into the water with a white bag attached to the agreed depth. The diver must then collect the white bag to prove he has dived to that depth, so it is all previously decided.

Guillaume Nery French free diver
Guillaume Nery French free diver


Marine: Why did you chooseBALLWatches?What are the brand values that have touched you as a diver?

Guillaume: I met with Ball in 2006 before my third world record. We discussed philosophies. Ball makes watches that can follow the wearer everywhere. I loved this concept. When I’m deep diving, the only thing I bring with me from my normal life on land is my Ball watch. It reminds me I’m not a fish and that I’m human and must return back to land.


Marine: Time in free diving is an essential element… How would you describe your relationship to time? And to watches?

Guillaume: When underwater, time is life. You learn how to listen to your body. I learnt a sixth sense – a sense of time. In this respect, Ball, a watch brand, is the most natural sponsor to a diver.


Marine: Free diving is a sport made legendary by “Le Grand Bleu”. Do you think you can experience one day such rapture of the deep?

Guillaume: Of course! But I’ve never had the feeling of wanting to stay at the bottom of the ocean. I always wanted to return to land and share the joy of the depths with friends and family. My wife has just made a short of movie about me showing this sensation of the narcosis. The film is called Narcose and is about my experiences as a deep diver and the hallucinations I can have.


Marine: Merci beaucoup Guillaume pour ce grand plongeon avec vous!…

Guillaume: Thanks so much.


Watch an amazing video of G. Nery the “Free diver”:

For more informations about Ball Watches: as the UK stockist for Ball watches

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