Pierre FROLLAPIERRE FROLLA’S SPORTING ACHIEVEMENTS
Like Jacques Mayol, whose life inspired Luc Besson’s portrayal of the hero in the film “Le Grand Bleu” in 1988, the Monegasque, Pierre Frolla, was smitten by diving as a child. With a father who was a member of the national deep sea diving team and a brother who encouraged him and pushed himself that little bit further, Pierre grew up with flippers on his feet and the Mediterranean as his playground. Later, while studying to become a physical education teacher in Nice after finishing high school, he had an encounter that changed his life.
World Recordman in static apnoea in 1990 and member of the French A.I.D.A apnoea team, Claude Chapuis started the first competitions and involved the promising young man in the adventure. In 1999, Pierre Frolla became the Free Diving World Recordman. In this discipline, one of the three that make up this diving competition without breathing apparatus, the diver descends alone, without any equipment, neither flippers nor mask, only using the strength of their arms. In 2004, he got his fourth world record in the “no limits” category, an extreme discipline that came to the public’s attention through the motion picture “Le Grand Bleu”. Weighed down with lead weights, the diver regains the surface only using the strength of their limbs. Pierre reached 123 metres. Only a trained body can stand the pressure (13 kg per cm2) of such a breath-taking depth and a totally controlled mind is needed to cope with the sensations which go with it; extreme thrill.
Several years later, an event occurred that transformed Pierre Frolla’s life. In 2007, his friend, Loïc Leferme, died in the harbour at Villefranche-sur-Mer, at the end of a training session. The dramatic event made him think that the time had perhaps come to stop competing and make his personal contribution to the protection of the underwater world that had captivated him for so long. In 2002, he decided to devote himself to teaching his discipline by creating a school which he set up in Monaco (L’école Bleue) and by making documentaries. He had, as well, an old phobia to beat… Born in 1975, Pierre Frolla was part of the generation of children traumatised by Jaws, which left him terribly distressed.
He could no longer tolerate the fact that he feared one of the most fascinating creatures in the sea while being so passionate about the underwater world, wishing to testify to its beauty and contribute to its protection. So he decided to fight fire with fire and face up to the devil that haunted him. Still diving without breathing apparatus, he relentlessly scoured the seas all over the world for sharks. To come to grips with his fear he firstly sought out the smaller ones and to combat it with the best of all antidotes: knowledge. Then, one day in October 2009, off the coast of Guadaloupe in Mexico, THE meeting took place – a memorable face-to-face encounter with the Great White Shark using no breathing apparatus. The female, measuring over 5.50 m, swam round him. Studies of the animal had shown him that it was all a question of attitude. His years of competitions and exploits had taught him total self-control. Suspended in the ocean, when he finally looked the shark right in the eyes, more moved and entranced than ever before, he was finally free of these years of dread.
Above and beyond the personal challenge, the amazing pictures of this incredible adventure moved the whole world and helped to dispel the unsavoury reputation that a film and quite a lot of ignorance had given sharks.
In addition, Pierre Frolla has chosen to work in a team. His companions in the adventure, which include Fred Buyle and Jérôme Espla, share the same values – freedom, humility, courage, the need to share, passion and honour. They transmit these values at ‘L’Ecole Bleue’ and through other initiatives to help disadvantaged children (Opération Poséidon, the Amade Monaco project, the battle against cystic fibrosis, etc.). The protection of the marine environment is the key to making today’s children, tomorrow’s sea-loving adults!
A FEW WORDS FOR THE FOUNDATION AS AN AMBASSADOR
The choice to become an ambassador to the Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation comes from the fact that I share the same objectives and the same priorities; I want to help communicate the values we can gain from practicing sport and how these values can help children become great adults.
Through sport, we can give children the tools necessary for them to gain knowledge and build productive futures.
The aquatic world is an essential element which contributes directly to personal development. Through swimming, diving and other water sports such as paddle boarding, surfing or even lifeguarding, we can transmit important values: courage, humility, sharing, fraternity and discipline. Learning how to make choices and setting objectives for oneself can help one achieve any goal they desire.