Born in Busto Arsizio in 1965, Umberto Pelizzari is a tall man. At almost 1.90 metres and weighing 84 kg, he boasts a lung capacity of almost 8 litres, compared to the average 5-6 litres. In the 1990s he caused amazement when he descended to 65 meters in constant weight, using only fins, setting a new world record on his debut outing.
Over the following 11 years he conquered and reconquered all the world freediving records. In 2000 Pelizzari took part in the IMAX film entitled Ocean Men, which tells his story in parallel with that of Francisco “Pipin” Ferreras, his eternal rival.
What do free divers represent for us today? Inner silence, awareness, harmony. A necessary alignment with nature at the most extreme level.
His most famous quote: “The diver descends to look around, the free diver to look inside himself.”
“….I saw you in the water today. Well done. I really like the way you go underwater. I’m just an old fisherman, but let me give you some advice. Remember that there are two ways to go underwater.” Saying this, he took a small piece of coral and threw it into the sea; then from a half coconut poured some milk into the water: “You see, the coral and the coconut are now both in the water. But the coral is still coral, while the coconut milk is now the sea: when you go underwater you shouldn’t do it like coral, but like coconut milk. When you free dive you mustn’t fight the sea, it mustn’t be you, your body, your skin and the sea, but every component of your being must become one with the water.”
Becoming one with nature is a very topical issue if we think about what we need to do today to review our relationship with ourselves and the world, in a decade where we are all holding our breath on the great theme of our own sustainability.
Watch Umberto Pelizzari dancing with humpback whales: