Arnaud Jerald: Record-breaking free diver explains the thrill of exploring ocean depths

For many, the idea of diving 100 meters below the ocean surface without an oxygen tank could induce a panic attack.

Not Arnaud Jerald, whose obsession with the deep blue and free diving began at a young age.

“I discovered free diving at seven with my dad in Marseilles, France,” Jerald tells CNN Sport. “At 16, I had a lot of difficulty in school. I’m dyslexic. And this part of my life is so difficult because in the past, I’m really shy with the people.

“When I tried diving for the first time, I went into the depths and I opened my eyes and I just saw the blue.

“In this part of my dive, I saw a mirror and I felt what I had to do for the rest of my life.”

Free diving helped Jerald develop confidence as he dealt with his dyslexia.

“The sea helped me very much because to go in these depths, you need to be confident in yourself,” he says. “You need to be really comfortable with what you do in the bottom because you cannot stop at the bottom.”

‘You feel narcosis at the bottom’

Now aged 24, Jerald holds the free-diving world record after plunging to a depth of 367.5 feet over three minutes and 23 seconds, breaking his own previous mark of 354 ft.

“When you reach one world record, it’s like a dream,” he says. “When you reach two world records, it’s like the start of a career. You create a stability. It’s not a one-time world record because it’s a good moment.

“No, when you reach two world records, it’s not an achievement but something like that.”

When he free dives Jerald says he’s more focused on the sensation the extreme sport gives him than on the world records he’s attempting to break.

“All around you is blue,” he says. “You don’t see the difference between the surface and the bottom. This is the first place in the world where you feel dead.

“You can face a lot of experiences on earth but this one is just unique.

“You feel narcosis at the bottom. Sometimes it’s like a dream and sometimes it’s like a nightmare.”

Watch Jerald diving at the top of the page.


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