Freediving under ice can be very demanding, but at the same time it is the perfect challenge in order to face any difficulties you have in other freediving disciplines and maybe in your day-to-day life.
In normal dynamic, deep or static freediving, you have an inner critic which tells you "you can't do it!", "what are you doing here?", "stop it!" and so on. Under the ice, you have different obstacles which can break your concentration. There are the obvious problems: the cold and the altitude. The higher you are (normally an ice covered lake in Europe is in the mountains), the more exhausting every move you make becomes. The air in the mountain is thin, and when you are diving on only one breath, of course you'll recognize the difference.
But there are other things that can break your concentration - your fears and doubts. During a static breath hold, you can experience the automatic thoughts I mentioned before, but under the ice, with limited exits and the obvious dangers when diving in apnea, this inner critic becomes much louder. If this leads to panic, it can become much more dangerous. If you can concentrate in these hostile, rough conditions, you won't have problems in other stressful moments in your daily life or freediving.
How can you deal with the obstacles I mentioned? How can you stay concentrated? Automatic thoughts, often described as "monkey mind", arise all the time. If you give your mind something relaxing to concentrate on - for example Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Body Scan Meditation - you keep your mind busy by relaxing the body, so both body and mind stay relaxed. In order to deal with your fears and doubts in a mindful way, other obstacles need to be minimized, for example, the cold.
During a photoshoot supported by Ernest Turnschek (Yachtivers Weissensee) for Davosa Watches, together with world class photographers and fellow Mares Ambassadors Ivana Orlovic and Janez Kranjc, I was happy to dive with the new Mares Polygon 80/65. It makes a big difference because, even after some hours of diving, I still felt warm. You have to make sure you use thick socks and gloves. I used the Gloves Flex Gold 5mm and the Socks Flex Gold 5mm and felt quite warm in 2°C water. I now use the new Ascent Dry Duffle Bag for everything. It is my perfect companion for flying abroad. My new X-Wing Carbon fins fit in it perfectly, that’s why I also use it to carry my belongings to pool training. Whether you want to carry all your equipment to the airport to check-in, or use it for ice diving, it's easy to use with a roll top and it is, of course, waterproof.
By Nik Linder
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