Joshua Chaffee
Joshua Chaffee

Aug 06. 3 mins

DIVING DEEPER WITH ALESSIA ZECCHINI

All Photos by Alex St. Jean

Being able to speak personally with a world record holder, let alone someone who holds upwards of 10 different records, was humbling, to say the least.

Alessia Zecchini is a passionate freediver; she lives and breathes freediving.

You come to understand someone based on the way that they speak about their life, their sport, their passion — and Alessia is no exception. The way she feels about the life she lives seeps out of her words in a way that makes it obvious she was smiling during our interview — even though we spoke through the phone.

The Vertical Blue competition that recently ended at Dean’s Blue Hole was a huge accomplishment, not just for Alessia, but for all women freedivers.

On top of winning the gold for women, she also garnished the most points overall (beating out the men’s gold medalist by 0.05 points). By the time the competition finished, Alessia had broken four world records.

Discovering Her Sport

Since a young age living in Italy, Alessia loved being in the pool, but at the age of 13, she discovered the sport that would forever change her life.

She trained — she practiced — but still couldn’t compete until she was 18, so she had to occupy herself with something else: the fin swimming team.

Since the moment Alessia discovered freediving, it has been her passion. Being held back from competing only because of her age, she could still develop her technique and skill while she patiently waited.

“When I was 13, I found the sport, and I loved it from the beginning. I had to wait until I was 18 to compete, but I started to train with the fin swimming team, and when I tried to do depth, I loved it a lot.”

Speaking with her, it was ever-evident that Alessia’s favorite part about freediving is the depth. She loves being deep underwater, and where most people would become frightened, she feels no fear — no pressure.

I asked her to explain what it was like to dive to depths below 100 meters [328 feet], and this is what she said:

“When I am underwater in that depth, of course it is dark, but it depends on the sea where we go. Like in the Blue Hole in the Bahamas after 30, 40, meters, it is really very dark; but it is important not to be afraid, to not have fear about it, because if you are calm, if you know yourself, and if you can feel yourself, you can enjoy yourself.

Alex St-JeanI don’t feel the pressure because I am quite adapted, and maybe because I started freediving when I was very young — when I was 13 — so now, really, I am very calm under the water, and I have no problems, and I came to manage my feelings underwater before a competition. At each moment, I come to manage myself.”

Now that she is not just a young aspiring freediver, but a world champion, she can fully devote her time and energy into doing the thing she loves.

“For me, this is my passion; it’s what I like most in my life. I love to travel to new places, to meet new people, and to dive in amazing places around the world.”

Alessia’s Passions

Any chance she gets, Alessia will be in the water. When I asked her about what her life is like outside of the sport, she couldn’t help but talk more about freediving. She has great friends, but she enjoys time with them in nature — more specifically — in the water.

“My life now — the last two years — is to travel around the world, and to meet my friends and dive in amazing places for competing, training, or much better, only for fun! I have some friends outside of this life, and when I am in Rome I am with them. I train, in the pool, in the gym — anyway, I love to do the sport, I love to be in nature. I like this life a lot, of course.”

She values training immensely, and not just when it comes to deep dives. Alessia made it very clear that the pool is where she does most of her training.

“It is very important to train in a pool…to improve the techniques and skills that are important for improving our performance in depth.”

Alessia’s passion is diving, and she is undoubtedly busy with training and competing. Even so, she spends time sharing her knowledge and skill with her fellow freedivers. Not long after the Vertical Blue competition has finished, Alessia will be holding a training camp with her coach, Martin Zajac, at Dahab Freedivers from August 16th to August 20th, 2018.

She consistently inspires and selflessly advises new freedivers from around the world.

“The most important thing is to enjoy and to know ourselves better and deeper — to try to increase our limit, because I think there is not a limit, but we can always improve everything.”

Where She Goes From Here

Speaking with her it was clear that she wanted to do more: to increase her depth. As much as she loves swimming in the waves of Sri Lanka and adventuring through the sealife of the Maldives, going deeper is where her enthusiasm lies.

She doesn’t have a lust for fame, nor an addiction to world records; she is modest and humble, despite her skill. Even so, she is always striving to improve her technique.

She explained that she is satisfied this year when it comes to depth, but next year she would like to break some records again and reach 110m in CWT and 100m in free immersion. (her current record for CWT is — an already unimaginable — 107m, and a world-record-breaking 96m for free immersion.)

“My future plan is continue to do my best in all disciplines. Next year I will try to do some more meters in the indoor disciplines, but for sure now I like depth a lot, so I will continue to improve my performance in depth.”

Although most recreational SCUBA divers have never dreamed of reaching such profound depths, some people make it their life’s goal.

Here at International Diver, we are more than proud of Alessia for her vast accomplishments and we would love to congratulate her.

Keep an eye out for Alessia Zecchini at the next freediving competition, because she will no doubt overperform and strongly impress.

All photos by: Alex St. Jean

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