“I can hold my breath for seven minutes underwater”
I can hold my breath underwater for up to seven minutes. I have spent my life training my body. Strong muscles are essential for being able to withstand the pressure of the water, which increases the further you dive. I do a lot of breathing exercises and a lot of yoga and participate in Pranayama, the ancient practice of holding the breath. I also do all kinds of outdoor sports like running and rock climbing which helps me to be very focused and aware of your body underwater.
The farthest I have ever dived is 72 meters underwater. I officially started practicing this sport in my early twenties and I reached a French freediving record at -65 meters deep, before beating it in 2007 with a dive of -68 meters.
When I was 11, I accompanied my father, who was a hunter at sea, spearfishing. My relationship with water began when I was a young girl growing up on the French island of Reunion in the Indian Ocean. My mom was a dance teacher and I followed in her footsteps and started dancing too, although it would be years before I combined the two.
Freediving is often viewed as a dangerous and extreme sport, but it is actually one of the safest in an open environment.. Freedivers follow several safety protocols in case of difficulty. Carrying a fin, we swim below the surface of the water, staying close to a dive line or a rope. Lanyards tie us to the dive line, and the safety divers or “buddies” around us can feel the vibrations of the lanyards running down the rope. They will also feel a pull on the rope when the diver begins their ascent. The friends will meet the diver at depth and will come up with them to the surface. The worst that can happen is that you pass out and if a diver passes out, safety divers will step in to bring them back to the surface.
The most dangerous place I dived was in the waters near the Galapagos Islands. I was there filming sea lions and we got close to a few females – they are such beautiful creatures and the best underwater dancers ever in my opinion. Males, however, are truly protective of females. I remember having a pretty scary time with them because they can bark very loudly underwater. I’m not afraid of sharks or big water fish, but this experience with sea lions was quite new to me.