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Alice Modolo takes Olympic flame for a dive


Alice Modolo with the specially adapted Olympic torch
Alice Modolo with the specially adapted Olympic torch

“Yes, the Olympic flame can go under water!” proclaimed the International Olympic Committee, announcing that French freediver Alice Modolo had carried the official torch beneath the Mediterranean Sea as part of the Olympic Torch Relay on 18 June. 

On 9 May another French freediver, world champion Arnaud Jerald, had set a precedent by carrying the torch through his home town of Marseille during its relay journey to the capital for the Paris 2024 Games. Now Modolo has gone one better by bearing it submerged yet still “burning” off Antibes for a further fraction of its circuitous trip to the French capital.

Freediving governing body AIDA International worked with staff and students at Nice University and the Department of Alpes-Maritimes to bring the idea to life. The “flame” was created by microcomputer-controlled orange-yellow LEDs, while air bubbles contained in a concealed Aqualung mini-bottle created the “smoke” . 

Passing the Olympic flame - under water
Passing on the Olympic flame – under water

AIDA co-founder and instructor-trainer Claude Chapuis organised the safety arrangements, Brigitte Banegas was safety freediver and AIDA instructor-judges based at the university’s sports faculty also supported the athlete under water. 

Leaving nothing to chance, eight AIDA competition safety freedivers, also from the faculty, made up Modolo’s surface safety team.

Modolo has competed in almost every freediving discipline, has held AIDA Bifins world records and is currently France’s number two in both Constant Weight and CWT Bifins with dives of 101 and 96m respectively.

Freediving is not an Olympic sport but after playing his part in the torch’s progress north Jerald had said: “I have good hopes for freediving to become an Olympic discipline”. He pointed out that more than a century ago breath-hold swimming had been represented at the Olympic Games of 1910, when French athletes had won gold and silver.

Also read: Q&A with Kirk Krack: Technical Diving Instructor and Freediving Guru

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