Arnaud Jerald: the free diver broke a new world record in Dean's Blue Hole, Long Island, Bahamas | Photo: Daan Verhoeven

The French freediver broke a new world record on July 20 in Dean's Blue Hole, Long Island, Bahamas, by diving to 122 meters (400 feet) without an oxygen tank.

The performance took place on the first day of the Vertical Blue, the "Wimbledon of Freediving," and puts him in the virtual first overall standing for this competition, as no one has dived deeper than he has today.

The athlete was equipped with a custom-made neoprene wetsuit and ultra-light carbon fins when he descended to 122 meters, grabbed the tag attached to the bottom plate, brought it back up to the surface, and executed the surface protocol within the regulation 15 seconds after exiting the water.

It took him 105 seconds to reach the bottom and 109 seconds to swim back up, totaling 3 minutes and 34 seconds.

He improved by one meter the previous record of this discipline held by the Russian Alexey Molchanov since May 2023.

Arnaud Jerald, 27, has now broken the world record eight times, each time by one meter, and three times in 2022 alone.

The young athlete continues to make history in his sport and becomes the man who holds the most world records in this bi-fins category.

The legendary Umberto Pelizzari, a disciple of Jacques Mayol, achieved six world records back in the 1990s.

The public who witnessed this vertiginous descent vibrated and applauded at the precise moment when Arnaud touched the bottom, followed in real-time video by the judges and the safety team, who announced the diver's position every ten meters.

As he ascended at around one meter per second, the tension was palpable around the competition area until the explosion of joy when the judge produced the white card that validated the performance.

Vertical Blue is considered the "Wimbledon of freediving" and brings together the best freedivers in the world every year.

For this 2023 edition, 44 athletes from all around the world have come together to offer a show of deep diving in the Dean's Blue Hole, a natural hole located on the edge of the beach, a dream configuration for this sport that is best practiced in calm, warm, and sheltered waters.

The two-time world champion lived up to expectations by pulling out all the stops from the first day of Vertical Blue, demonstrating the ease that is specific to him and suggesting that he still has a small margin.

The Vertical Blue was the Frenchman's first competition this season.

Arnaud Jerald: one of the best freedivers on Earth | Photo: Daan Verhoeven

A World Record Breaker

Arnaud Jerald is a world-class freediver - among the very best freedivers on earth.

He has eight world records to his name, including, most notably, the constant weight bi-fins (CWTB) world record, which he set in July at Dean's Blue Hole in the Bahamas, at the 2023 edition of Vertical Blue, the Wimbledon of freediving.

CWTB is one of the sport's four competitive depth disciplines and Jerald's specialty discipline.

His latest world record-setting depth, 122 meters, marks the first time any human has reached 122 meters in a CWTB competition.

Born and raised in Marseille, France, Jerald began freediving at a young age.

Due to his dyslexia, school was a challenge, but he found great solace and freedom diving in the waters off Marseille.

As he describes it, at the bottom of the ocean, he opened his eyes and found a place where he felt safe, a place he could call home, a place where he could breathe freely.

In 2017, after completing his studies, he began to dive competitively.

Later that year, he reached 100 meters at 21 years old, becoming the youngest freediver in history to achieve that depth.

Reflecting on the achievement, he marveled that there are more humans who have gone into space than humans who have dived to 100 meters with only a single breath.

In 2019, Jerald broke his first constant weight bi-fins world record with a dive to 108 meters.

In 2020, at the European Freediving Cup in Kalamata, Greece, he set another world record depth of 112 meters.

In 2021, he won the CWTB Gold Medal at the Freediving World Championships in Kas, Turkey.

In 2022, he won the CWT Monofin Gold Medal at the Freediving World Championships in Kas.

In addition to his two world titles and his eight world record-setting dives in CWTB, Jerald holds ten national records and is a three-time CWTB gold medal winner at the French National Championships, making him one of the most accomplished freedivers in the history of France, a nation that has a longer history than most with the sport.

Out of the water, Jerald is sponsored by Richard Mille - making him one of the few freedivers to ink an endorsement deal with a luxury watch company.

Jerald remains based in Marseille to this day.

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