For the first time in the world, an athlete with an amputation has achieved these diving successes. One Leg, One Breath, is the name of the project that has become a reality. In these words, there is the synthesis of two records that have incredibly fallen to Wojtek Czyz in the waters of Tahiti.
OMER provided the Technical Clothing for a company that has already made history.
- CONSTANT TRIM BI-FINS: 50 METERS/164 FEET
- VARIABLE TRIM BI-FINS: 110 METERS/360 FEET
- FREE IMMERSION: -45 meters/147.6 FEET
In addition, his performances also concern the use of mono fins and in particular:
- CONSTANT TRIM W/MONOFIN: 147.6 FEET
- VARIABLE TRIM W/MONOFIN: 383.8 FEET
With these certified records, CMAAS wanted to challenge the most elementary laws of logic, even before those of physics. Wojtek is a Paralympic athlete with a transfemoral amputation to his left leg, because of this he uses only a single fin worn on the right leg. All technical equipment, wetsuit, mask, snorkel, belt, gloves, shoe and single carbon fin are provided by his technical partner of this exciting challenge…OMER.
In the water with him was his coach and mentor Hebert Nitsch who has 33 world records in freediving and is the current record holder of the No Limit discipline at 702 feet deep, the deepest freedive in human history. Herbert ended up spending a long time in a wheelchair fighting against a decompression sickness hit from an 800 foot No-Limits attempt in 2012 that he has since completely overcome.
Wojtek Czyz played professional football for SC Fortuna Koln in Cologne. His history is one of those that marks the life of those who know it, at least because it is a concrete example of resilience and determination. In summary: On September 15, 2001 during a match he suffered an injury to his knee that knocks him out of the game. The injury was gravely underestimated by the doctors and due to delays in treatment, his leg ended up having to be amputated. The doors of a football field close forever, Wojtek is 21 years old but he doesn’t give up. After a period of hard training, he enters the 2002 Paralympic Games representing Germany (11-months after losing his leg). Wojtek broke the National record for long jump and won the 100m event. Between 2004 and 2012 between Athens, Beijing, London and other cities he collected 16 medals (12 golds, 2 silvers and 2 bronzes) in the long jump, 100 meter and 200 meter.
Wojtek doesn’t stop and he continues to amaze. Perhaps because the desire to change things and break the rules is stronger in those like him who have had to reinvent themselves. And this “Energy of the New”, moves up the limits for the disabled that the non-disabled cannot even begin to imagine. In November of 2012 together with his wife Elena Brambilla, herself a former Italian high jump champion athlete, they decided to create Sailing4handicaps.
On board the catamaran “Imagine”, they set off on a sailing world tour with a simple but powerful goal, to build on board their boat prostheses to give to the people they will meet during the trip. Today their 52-foot Phoenix Marine-customized Xquisite X5 catamaran is in Tahiti to prepare for a new challenge this time against itself: the CMAS freediving record in constant trim and dynamic apnea. Here, in the magic of a place that inspired and hosted painters and writers from all over the world, we interviewed him:
When did you discover freediving?
We were in the clearing in Grenada, I anchored on a seabed in 33 feet of water. There was some power and I wanted to check the good seal, so I dived. It was great to do it without cylinders. Together with my wife Elena we decided to take a freediving course despite our experience as divers. Then, the lighting… In Bonaire, Venezuela I met Carlos Coste a sacred monster of this discipline. He’s the one who introduced me to real freediving. It made me realize what it’s like to go deep into the blue. Since then the virus has infected me.
Do you also do freediving?
I just started. But I realized it’s not a discipline, if anything, it’s a science. I’m learning more and more every day. The most interesting thing is the relationship that is established with fish. The exchange of glances…
Have you ever met Umberto Pellizzari?
I have not yet had the opportunity to meet him personally. But I know all about him. My wife told me what it means to you Italians. Umberto is a close friend of Herbert Hitsch and I know they talked about my record.
Why did you choose to associate with OMER diving products?
I strongly wanted the products of OMER , despite the many brands in market, OMER has something special and I do not hide that the presence of Umberto is a guarantee of quality. If there’s a man who really knows what it takes to go down into the deep blue, it means that all the material is really top notch. They were quick to support us, a few emails later I was proudly dressed in OMER equipment. it’s an Italian brand, my wife is Italian and I feel half Italian. Every day I realize that I have made the best choice.
In addition to freediving there is another incredible challenge that you are facing…
When we retired from competitive sports, my wife and I decided to invest our money in a boat, which is our home, and in a project that could help others. This is how Sailing4handicaps was born. We bought a catamaran and we go around the world to offer prosthetics to people without lower limbs. We have everything needed to create them on board. We make the prosthetics and give them away.
How many have you made so far?
We gave away 39 prostheses between Morocco, Santalucia, Saint Vincent, Grenada and the Galapagos… All parts are made on board by European technicians who reach us in the port where we are. To make a limb you need skills that I don’t have. My job, however, is to teach them how to use them. And I’ve had some experience on that.
What are your plans for the future?
After the long stay in Tahiti we are headed to Fiji and Tonga, then we will see… When our money’s out, we’re going to start a new life. Who knows where?
So what is apnea?
In a word: Another world. A place to discover yourself, where you can start listening to your body and interpreting its signals better. Freediving, for me, is like entering an entirely new dimension. It only takes a few minutes underwater to immerse yourself in a new life. And this is something to try, without ever stopping…