Meet the most deep-thinking of free-divers
When people ask about her nationality, this young woman tells people she is Mediterranean, as the sea runs in her blood. As the holder of multiple freediving records, she knows how to make the most of every moment of harmony nature offers her. Diving, ecology, discovery: Aurore Asso tells us about her passions. Learn a little about her in our interview below.
Since you’re from Nice, were you naturally attracted to the sea?
Aurore Asso : It’s certainly a big part of my background. For me, exploring the sea has always been an obvious choice. When I was little, we would go to Greece for a whole month with my brothers and parents and spend all day in the sea. That made a big impression on my life.
Your incredible free-diving feats sometimes give you the chance to shoot films and share images, especially with the aim of raising public awareness about different ecological issues. Do you see diving as a means rather than an end in itself?
A.A. : That’s precisely how I’ve seen it for two years now. When I first set out to break records, it was an inner exploration of myself: I would plunge into the deep blue sea, and that was pretty much it. In that regard, free-diving is a great way to discover your inner resources.
Now I’ve switched the process around and plan to go from record-breaking to exploration by diving in new places for the first time. Last March, I produced a documentary in Vanuatu and got the chance to explore spots where you can’t dive with a gas cylinder. You can reveal biodiversity to people through freediving. I’m an optimist: you need to make people dream by showing them places on the planet where nature is unspoilt.
You’ve broken several world records under ice: how does it feel to swim under an ice sheet?
A.A. : The North and South Poles have already been widely explored, so I was attracted to the ice sheets’ underside. It was a way to revive some of the spirit of the polar explorers, who I think are fascinating characters. I stayed in a fishing village in Greenland where children had only one burning desire, which was to find out what was under the ice, as they are always roaming the ice sheets. Underwater, I was bothered at first by the algal bloom, which made the water cloudy and green. But I got used to it. I used a lifeline I could follow by sight and, in parallel to my connecting line, I made a line with breathing holes for emergencies. That produced skylights in the ice. The visual sensations were wonderful. I also dived close to an iceberg, which gave me a thrilling sense of exploration and instilled in me great respect for this icy giant that intimidates Inuit people. When diving, human beings rely on little more than their intuition, they become hypersensitive to the environment. It’s a return to basic instincts.
You dived with Ponant beside the Blue Eye multi-sensory room on the new luxury expedition ship Le Lapérouse. Did this experience make a big impression on you?
A.A. : I was able to see the passengers, I saw them smiling, and I had the feeling of being really on the outside of it all because I was so free! I feel better in the water than on the other side, in the hull. I love this project. It’s great how Jacques Rougerie has brought Jules Verne’s Nautilus to life and how passengers get to feel like Captain Nemo! It makes the new Ponant ships real explorers, with eyes and ears. Blue Eye is going to make people feel so much closer to the sea, even people who don’t go diving. It’s a real luxury for all the passengers. It’s almost philosophical, like an inverted aquarium…