In April 2007, I took part in my first competition. It was a small, local event, with about six athletes only. Most of us were beginners, testing our legs and our limits in our first ever competition. It is fun to look back - today most of us have made our names and careers in freediving; Federico Mana, Annelie Pompe, myself and Andrea Zuccari.
Since then we've all set big records for our respective countries, even world records; I'm focusing on yoga, meditation and the spiritual aspects of the sport; Federico has written books on equalisation and breathing; Annelie is the kick-arse adventurer, and Andrea has gone so deep into the science of equalisation, that he's almost disappeared up his own nostrils! :-)
I often have the pleasure to sit with Andrea (although not often enough given that we're just 100km up the road from each other), but last year I took the opportunity to film our chat. His goals may have changed somewhat, but the determination and professionalism behind this man's drive to help us understand the mystery and mastery behind equalisation, from frenzel, to hands-free and mouthfill, only grows stronger.
As well as all this ear business, his biggest up and coming projects are to attempt a deep scooter dive in the freezing Baikal Lake, and bringing out a book and video on - you guessed it - equalisation. There are also rumours about a 200m dive. Wow!
I salute you Mr Zuccari, and thank you for being such a champion ambassador for all deep freedivers.