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Freeze Divers

Freediving under ice, Russian freediver's daring world record attempt

Freediving is a challenge in itself: diving into the deep, pitch-black abyss on a single breath, enduring intense pressure and maintaining a deeply calm state of mind to stay in control while diving. But some go even further and brave the cold by freediving under ice. To illustrate the difference between freediving in warm and cold seas, the record regular freediving depth is an extraordinary 130 metres, but under the ice, it's just 75.

World record in freediving under ice
In freediving, athletes take a deep breath and dive underwater as deep as they can without breathing apparatus. It’s a perilous sport, with freedivers’ bodies exposed to enormous pressure. “It is believed that at a depth of 80 metres and more, our lungs squeeze to the size of an orange.”

For Andrey Matveenko, a seasoned freediver and multiple Freediving World Championship medalist with a personal record of 108 metres, freediving in cold seas is a new experience. Yet, he takes the plunge in this unexplored discipline “to see what they like about the cold” and beat the world under ice freediving record straight away.

Freediving under ice world record
Andrey and his training partner, Tatyana Zemskikh dunk their faces into an ice hole before entirely submerging so they can adapt to subzero temperatures.

RTD joins Andrey as he heads for the White Sea together with his training partner, Tatyana Zemskikh. At the ‘Arctic Circle’ diving centre, Andrey has to push his body to its limits and see how it adapts to freezing underwater temperatures of minus two degrees Celsius. For five days, Andrey will brave the untried cold and dark, going deeper and deeper each time, under the watchful eyes of Tatyana and ice-diving champion, Konstantin Novikov.

Freediving under ice
Freediving is not a solo sport. While you dive while someone else stays on guard and helps their partner back to the surface. “The final metres are the most dangerous because we run out of oxygen by that time,” Andrey says. “If I blackout, [Tatyana] is ready to grab me and pull me out.”

Freeze Divers is an inspiring story of human endurance and total dedication to the sport as told by Andrey Matveenko and others. Tune in for a deep dive into the fascinating world of unaided diving, incredible underwater video. Andrey may just take your breath away by diving deeper in subzero water than anyone ever dared.