How long can you stay under water? Imagine taking a single breath and then diving nearly a 200 hundred meters into the ocean on a weighted sled. Welcome to the ultimately extreme sport of No Limits Freediving. People have a hard time understanding that what freedivers do is possible without being crazy risk-driven freak. Statistically it's the safest extreme sport on the planet.
On October 12th 2002 Audrey Mestre attempted to break the No Limits world record by diving 564 feet on a single breath of air. Audrey had been married to 'Pipin' Ferreras, a world record free diver with cult-like celebrity status within the sport. Sports Illustrated described their relationship as follows:
Carried away by love - for risk and for each other - two of the world's best freedivers went to the limits of their sport. Only one came back. - Gary Smith.
When you live on the edge you're driven to the extreme. Football, as dangerous as it is, isn't risky enough for certain types of human beings. It's something that needs to be pushed further and further and one mistake or whatever happens is all it's going to take and tip it into tragedy.
Sports Illustrated built the story as one of love and obsession, but was this an underwater tale of star-crossed lovers? Pipin hired a ghostwriter (Linda Robertson) to pen his autobiography but what had been presented to her as kind of a romantic tragedy, the more she looked into it the more she felt like that was very simplistic depiction of what happened.
Francisco 'Pipin' Ferreras was born in Cuba on January 18th 1962. He had deformed legs and feet, orthopedic shoes, asthma, really bad eyesight, thick glasses... and the kids made fun of him. Thanks to an uncle who put him under water, he discovered that he can swim before can walk. As the young Cuban healed from his ailments the water also provided him a living.