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Second Par Article Ocean Men Miami Herald

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Ricardo (SAFER)

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Guys, sorry I had to cut in two....it's all there...I promise.
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HIS CRITICS

But some critics charge that Ferreras has embellished more than his own life history.

In October 1998, Paul Kvinta of Outside Magazine called into question many of Ferreras' claims, including the diver's explanation of a freediving accident that landed him in a Miami hospital.

In spring 1997, Ferreras staged an event called the Cayman Challenge, a ''two-breath'' dive off Grand Cayman Island. On one breath, Ferreras rode his sled to 300 feet, where he then took a second breath from a SCUBA tank tied to the line, and continued to 500 feet.

But during a practice dive, Ferreras lapsed into convulsions and became unconscious, Kvinta wrote, after following a ``two-breath plunge to 400 feet with a SCUBA dive to 200 feet to help retrieve the sled.''

Ferreras was sent to a hospital, Kvinta wrote, and treated for possible decompression sickness (''the bends'') in a hyperbaric chamber.

Upon regaining consciousness, Kvinta continued, Ferreras ``flew into a rage, demanding to be released and insisting that he wasn't bent. Doctors responded by sedating him and airlifting him to a hospital in Miami, where he stayed for two days.''

Ferreras later returned to the Caymans and performed the dive, claiming he had only banged his head on the boat.

The dive, and Ferreras' accident, were documented in the film Conquistando el Azul (Conquering the Blue), done by Ferreras' Miami-based production company, Pipin Productions. According to sources who have seen the video, Ferreras did not exhibit any obvious injuries to his head.

Ferreras maintains that he banged his head. If he'd had the bends, he says, ``I would not have been able to set the record two weeks later.''

Then there are the deaths of two of his safety team divers in 1996. That year, Ferreras was training for freediving records off Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Both Massimo Berttoni and Pepe Fernandez died ''somewhat mysteriously,'' Kvinta wrote in Outside.

Kvinta quoted Ferreras as being ''mystified'' by Berttoni's death but explaining Fernandez's death this way:

``He had been bitten by a scorpion the day before the practice, and it seems that the pressure at 70 meters [231 feet] injected the venom in the bloodstream and caused him a heart attack.''

Sanchez, of the University of Miami School of Medicine, says scorpion venom takes hold almost immediately.

Ferreras declined to comment on the deaths. ''It's just reliving a problem,'' he says. But he adds that in freediving, ''There are accidents. It's like in Formula One'' auto racing.

Before Ferreras graced the giant screen in IMAX's brand of larger-than-life entertainment, he was diving for fish in his native Cuba.

Spearfishing off Matanzas, Ferreras developed his freediving skills hunting for the biggest fish in the deepest waters. It wasn't until 1981, though, that Ferreras' talent was discovered by an Italian journalist.

Since then, Ferreras has cultivated celebrity status that was apparent during last week's Ocean Men screening.

FANS LINED UP

There, fans lined up for Ferreras' autograph and posed for pictures with him. After the screening, the audience peppered him with questions about his fear of sharks (none), his training regimen (works out three to four hours daily) and diet (Cuban sandwiches).

Ocean Men, which was filmed over three years on a $6 million budget, centers on Ferreras and his archrival, Italy's Umberto Pelizzari. Both Ferreras and Pelizzari are tied to the ocean and the sport they love, but they approach freediving in different ways.

Pelizzari practices ''constant weight'' freediving and uses a weight belt, a pair of flippers and a single breath of air to propel himself to depths of 264 feet, while Ferreras pursues the more extreme ''no-limits'' approach.

Ferreras says he left Cuba because he wanted to become an entrepreneur. He was leading scores of Italian tourists on diving and fishing trips off the island's coast and wanted to start a travel agency, he says.

But the Cuban government would not allow him to own a business, he says.

Ferreras now lives in Miami's Treasure Island neighborhood with his wife, Audrey Mestre, 28, a marine biologist who holds the female ''no-limits'' world record with a dive of 427 feet.

RUN A SCHOOL

The two run a freediving school and an underwater-film business, under which Ferreras has produced more than 40 documentaries, he says.

But though he is an avid photographer and documentarian, Ferreras' first love remains freediving.

''It's a transformation, almost magical,'' he says. ``It's half spiritual, half emotional.''

The transformation usually begins by Ferreras hyperventilating and meditating, whereby, he says, ``I am separating myself from everything around me.''

Within that zone, which some have compared to an embryonic state, Ferreras says he learns more about himself.

''I get closer to my roots as a terrestrial being,'' Ferreras says. He compares his quest to man's desire to explore space.

''People wanted to go to the moon once,'' he says. ``Now they want to go to Mars.''

On Dec. 15, Ferreras will attempt to set a new ''no-limits'' freediving record by plunging to 600 feet in the waters off the Dominican Republic. He will be supervised by Dr. Jorge Reynolds, a Colombian engineer who specializes in the study of the heart, according to the IAFD website, http://www.iafdusa.com/.

''I want to know how deep a human can go,'' Ferreras says.
 

Erik

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Gracias Ricardo,
a very interesting and informative article. I do admire Pipin for many reasons, even though there is some ambiguous history. The man has a lot to do with the popularity of freediving, like it or not.
Salud,
Erik Y.
 

Ricardo (SAFER)

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Ocean Men Article

Hello Erik:
I think the sentiment is mutual. I merely posted the Article, I didn't write it!
Besides, the movie is awesome...
Ricardo (SAFER)
 
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