Paris (AFP)

A feat and an incredible adventure: new star of French freediving, Arnaud Jérald propelled himself on Tuesday in bi-fins to 112 meters deep, signing a world record that he chased during several weeks of adventures.

An inversion in the protocol, a member of the team who commits a disqualifying gesture, a concern of logistics, a Russian champion who kills him 24 hours before: Arnaud Jérald lived an adventure full of twists and turns with a 'happy end' at a depth of 112 m in the blue waters of Kalamata (Greece).

The 24-year-old diver had dreamed of it for a long time.

Live a feat with his friends and the members of the club of legends of Villefranche-sur-Mer (Alpes-Maritimes), in the minds of his peers Guillaume Néry or Loïc Leferme, who organized their records at home in the absence of competitions.

At the beginning of June, he embarked on the project: retaking the record in constant weight twin fins, his flagship discipline which consists of diving and ascending by beating alternately with two feet and ballasted by the same number of weights along a rope. without touching it.

On May 20, 2019, he had signed his first world record in twin fins (108 m), broken in August 2019 by Russian star Alexey Molchanov (110 m).

It will therefore be 111 m for Jérald.

"He chose zero media, zero sponsors so as not to put additional pressure on himself, he wanted the most minimalist thing possible", explains his partner and manager Charlotte Benoît.

- The fate persists -

The International AIDA Federation is notified and sends two judges for homologation, a Pole and a Serbian, housed and fed on the Côte d'Azur at the expense of Jérald from August 7 to 17.

The young man, who suffered from dyslexia before being transformed by apnea discovered at 16, trains three times a week.

He has twice completed dives to 111 m during training.

Monday August 10.

This is the big day.

In the bay of Villefranche, the Marseillais dives in the early morning and manages without worry to reach 111 meters.

He quickly resurfaces - his great strength which he owes to thighs shaped by years of mountain biking - and embarks on the protocol which consists, in order, of removing the nose clip, making the 'ok' sign with hand and say 'I'm ok'.

But it doesn't start with removing the nose clip.

The record is invalidated.

Friday August 14.

The 2018 bi-palm vice-world champion returns there and succeeds in his abyssal descent.

With his head above water, he applies the rules of protocol when a member of the team approaches him and touches him.

This is disqualification.

Saturday August 15th.

Despite the big disappointment, he hangs on and projects himself on a third and final attempt, Monday, August 17.

But the club, which manages logistics, has not considered three attempts.

There is no longer a doctor available and attendance is compulsory.

End of the adventure at home.

- Five times at 111 m -

This quest for the record will have cost Arnaud Jérald around 15,000 euros, that is "what his main sponsor gives him" according to Charlotte Benoît.

Jérald then echoed a small competition in Kalamata, the European Cup.

An opportunity not to be missed, there will be judges to validate his record.

He almost missed the plane.

Monday September 14.

Serene, he is preparing to announce to the organization his attempt for Tuesday after having succeeded in the warm Greek waters in training, his fifth time at 111 m.

But Molchanov has just caught on: Monday in Krk (Croatia), he takes the world record of 111 meters during a dive of 4 minutes 10 seconds.

Arnaud Jérald no longer has a choice: he must descend to 112 m.

What he has never done in bi-fins, a discipline more physically harsh than the single-fin where you wave for more efficiency and speed (the world record is at 130 m).

In single-fin, Jérald reached 118 m.

Tuesday September 15th.

At 9:30 am French time, he fell into the depths and came out after 3 min 24 sec to become the new world record holder.

Jerald can breathe ...

© 2020 AFP