The True Story behind The Deepest Breath

By Louie Fecou
Published: July 22, 2023 (Last updated: August 22, 2023)
The True Story behind The Deepest Breath

We discuss the 2023 Netflix documentary The Deepest Breath and explore the true story behind the production. 

The world of extreme sports is a dangerous and unpredictable one. It seems you either understand the mindset of those who participate or don’t.

Perhaps it is a form of intoxication that those who participate in such activities achieve that makes it addictive and alluring.

The rush of adrenaline and the high from defying the odds or taking such a risk is a powerful drug, and when you explore the world of those who live there, you discover that it is equivalent to hitting a drug-fuelled high.

When we become aware of stories such as the one featured in the 2023 Netflix documentary The Deepest Breath, it is easy to dismiss the parties involved, almost blaming them for being stupid enough to apply themselves in the situation in the first place.

This attitude comes from a place of misunderstanding the motivation and ambition of the participants. If the object of documentaries that cover the events is to try to help us understand their mindset, it will always be a hill too steep for many of us to climb.

When lives are lost in the pursuit of the thrill, there will always be the people left behind who have to consolidate the loss of a loved one with the knowledge that they died doing something they loved.

Small comfort, perhaps, but consolidating the loss might be the only way for people to move on after the tragedy happens.

The Deepest Breath explores the death of free diver Stephen Keenan.

This companion article will explore the true story behind The Deepest Breath.

What is the Netflix documentary The Deepest Breath about?

The film follows the story of Stephen Keenan and his partner, Alessia Zecchini. Italian Zecchini found her love of free diving from an early age. Keenan, an Irishman, would also find a passion for the activity while on holiday in Egypt, eventually moving overseas and opening his own freediving school.

The two would meet through the sport. Keenan would act as the safety diver for Zecchini, an ambitious, driven, and highly motivated athlete with a portfolio of world records and achievements, looking to push herself even further with a dive into The Blue Hole.

Their chance meeting is a love story, and it seems that Stephen and Alessia were two jig-saw pieces that were incomplete till they met. The documentary covers the couple and the dive leading to Keenan’s death as he saved Zecchini’s life during her attempt at the terrifying feat.

Is Netflix’s The Deepest Breath based on a true story?

Yes, this is a true story. Filmmaker Laura McGann meticulously puts the film together. McGann would explain that the film captures “The beauty and the brutality of life and love.” The production is careful to blend everything together, making this a story that explores the people as well as the event that is at its center.

Heartbreaking testimony from some people left behind after the incident that led to Stephen’s death is poignant and hard to witness.

The beauty of the underwater world is juxtaposed with the ultimately deadly consequences of participating in this kind of sport.

Is Alessia Zecchini still diving?

Yes. Alessia continues to compete in freediving. Recently, she set a new world record in a dive that would see her diving to three hundred and fifty-one feet, requiring her to hold her breath for three minutes and twenty-six seconds, her deepest breath.

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