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Let’s be clear. Forget about any winking or fluid temptation right away. Nor is it an illusory sign of availability that involves your senses. If anything, wonder. To which follows the disorientation in seeing, better if from the truth (but even a video may suffice), the mythological image of a siren that in the imagination of each of us mix eroticism, beauty and mystery. Do not worry about any bewitching song and no trap like those described by Homer in the Odyssey for the figure half body of a woman and half a fish. Many centuries later for Christians it had even become a symbol of sin …
Here is a real Siren: Ilaria Molinari. Born in Latina 41 years ago and athlete of the Omer Team she is the most famous of the network (and therefore perhaps of the world, given the media power of YouTube). His most clicked video has now reached 36,18458 monitors.
How did the idea of becoming a mermaid come about?
Absolutely by chance, I never thought about it. It was a time when I was very busy. I was training for competitions and I was already involved in other parallel activities. To all this is added my work as an interpreter and translator.
What happened then?
In that year, it was 2014, I received a call from the managers of Y-40. I was asking myself to do an exhibition as a woman freediver and in full agonistic activity, for the inauguration of the pool. But they were looking for a different exhibition. An aesthetic performance not of depth. I listened to them and at the end of the call I told them: but if I did it dressed as Sirena? I had an American friend who did this job and it fascinated me. So, without knowing what he meant and without thinking too much I proposed it.
What reaction did they have?
In my opinion they didn’t know what to expect. However, they gave me the ok. An act of trust and courage that I appreciated very much. And so, once the call is over, I’m desperately looking for a queue …
What was the audience’s reaction to your first performance?
Actually, on the day of the inauguration, I felt a little embarrassed. Apnea is run by one of the most serious sports, I consider it first. Throwing myself into the water dressed as a mermaid, despite being my idea, actually, seems strange to me. I was wrong … As soon as I dived into the water my body started to fly. From the windows I could see people’s reactions. They were excited, fascinated, amazed. Both children and men, but above all, women. I understood that I had achieved a goal. And I had done it completely unconsciously.
In the Literature Dante and Wilde for example, in the Drinking Water by Klimt …, attention has not been given to the Sirens …
Yes of course, the evocative value of the Siren is strong and they are necessary before a “true”. The most beautiful aspect from my point of view was precisely this: to put before their eyes what is read or seen in the paintings. Or just imagined.
From fresh water to salt water. Was the step short?
After this first experience in the pool, I convinced a video at sea, the natural place of the Sirens and from there everything else started. Given the success of my videos and the growing interest in my performances, I realized I had built an important project. I never imagined I would get such a success.
What is the status of the flip side?
First of all, defeat a cliché. That of the Mermaid!
My idea is far from the sensual appeal of this mythological figure. I refuse to put scales or sequins to simulate the skin of the fish or draw attention to my body. I said no to wigs to have long and haunting hair. I just want to celebrate the sea through this representation and not myself or my femininity. I have no makeup, I have no attention to the aesthetic form, so I want to go in the water as naturally as possible.
The fish tail, then?
I need to bring people closer to the world of the sea and Apnea. Instead of doing it with a wetsuit and fins that would be very technical, I translate into a more captivating and transversal message. A curious form to approach apnea in the only way I know: with seriousness and professionalism. For some years now I have been doing apnea siren courses for women. In front of a classic stadium thought that apnea is too much a male sport in the sense of technical and demanding: depth, danger. So instead they feel more reassured. But the Sirena is a starting point, not a destination. Because in reality I teach breathing and kicking techniques, they learn to go underwater and the tail only becomes an extension of the body. Or maybe an excuse. The important thing is to recruit new freedivers.
Do they sign up to become a Sirene or freediver?
Many are attracted to this world, by apnea I mean, but do not know how to access it. They don’t know where to start. Others just want to make a different, more playful and aesthetic experience and then stop after classes without continuing with apnea. My course has immediately a technical value.
Do you work in Italy or even abroad?
The basis for the course is in the pool where it all started, Y-40, but I also made it in other cities of Italy. Recently I went to China, where I held two stages of pure freediving and two days at Sirena. In Asia they found me thanks to videos uploaded to YouTube. The Chinese public has shown great interest and next year I plan other internships both in Beijing and in Shanghai. I like to remember that a former student of mine became Omer’s agent in China, her name is Yi Zhang.
Has freediving become your main activity?
I am an interpreter and a translator (from English, French and Russian n.d.r.). This work is like doing a sport at a professional level. In the sense that to translate simultaneously you have to train yourself to listen and always improve your performances … I divide equally between the job of translator and apnea. But I’m not just doing courses for aspiring swimmers, in fact I have been an instructor at the Apnea Academy since 2004 thanks to Umberto Pelizzari’s suggestion, because teaching the values and techniques of going under water in a natural way is very stimulating.
What were your records?
In 2005 I am proud to be able to say that I broke the record of Rossana Maiorca (unbeaten for 12 years) in a constant single-leg setup with tools at a depth of -65 meters. In 2015, after a long pause for the birth of my son, I made the record of -71 meters in free diving and -50 meters in constant trim without tools. But the most important I consider when I participated in the first edition of the Vertical Blue of the Bahamas organized by William Trubridge in the Blue Hole, the deepest sinkhole in the world. In that race, in 2009, I discovered I was pregnant. So my son was the deepest fetus in the world. It has reached -65 meters!
Always a freediver?
I was a convinced “bombolara”. Then one summer during a dive with the regulator in Santa Teresa di Gallura I saw Umberto Pelizzari go by with his long black fins with nothing on his shoulders. I remember the elegance of the movements the fluidity of that finning in the blue. I look at the depth gauge: 40 meters. It was a mystical vision. I told myself that this would become my new way to go to sea. So the last day I go out to sea with Umberto. I still remember his advice and reassurance very well. We dive together. First dive
-16 meters, the second -25 meters. I understand that I am in my world and so Umberto advises me to take a course. I studied at the University of Trieste, it was 2001, and I took the first course in Venice Mestre. In the end I took part in the selections for the Freediving World Championships held in Ibiza and saw the participation of a women’s team for the first time. So I found myself in Spain a year after discovering apnea to participate in a World Championship (he won a bronze n.d.r.).
How did you discover Omer?
I wore a Sporasub and Omer suit thanks to a friend who has a large hunting and fishing shop in Terracina. My sponsor’s material at that time often came in late and was not suited to my needs and my body shape. He gave me a wetsuit to use for a workout. I well remember that it was a fishing suit. I immediately noticed a great quality and attention to detail but above all it was suitable for my body. Since then I only wear Omer clothing …