Freediving under the Ice

by   Profile Nik   When 5th March 2020
31 Photo by Vladimir Subotic
6 Photo by Ivana OK

I remember the first time I was under the ice of a lake. It was in 2008, in the Swiss Alps, at an altitude of 1700m. I was posing for a photographer friend, diving from one hole to the next. The idea was to take some special photos which nobody else would have. At that time, there had already been some ice divers who had broken records, such as Christian Redl, Jaromir Foukal, Wim Hof and others, but this was not my intention at all.

At that time, I was very busy with my dive center in Freiburg, South Germany. Although I was very fascinated by freediving, the shop kept me busy from March to the beginning of October. When I had more time for training in the winter, there were no competitions at all. That's why I set some records distance diving under the ice with and without fins.

Together with a growing interest in this sport, an interest in records also increased. Soon, other records like deep diving under ice were set and broken.

For me, diving under the ice is a great experience. It's not only about the challenge, mental strength and so on, it is also about silence. The water is hidden under a thick layer of ice. You don´t hear the waves, you don´t hear boats or people jumping and screaming in the water. The only thing you can hear is the rumbling, roaring sound of the ice.

First, everything around you is bright white, that‘s why the hole looks pitch-black, but as soon as you enter the water you realise it is bright enough to see perfectly. It is amazing how the light of the sun breaks through the ice. You can play with the pieces of ice which were removed when the „Eismeister“ broke in to it with a chainsaw. At my favorite spot for ice diving, Weissensee, the „Eismeister“ is Norbert Jank - a legend and the guy who is responsible for the safety of the numerous iceskaters and tourists who visit the Weissensee during winter.

I have recently returned with my fellow Mares Ambassadors and friends Ivana Orlovic and Janez Kranjc for a photoshoot for the watch brand „Davosa - Swiss Watches“ both on and under the ice. Since my first time here, a lot has changed. Today, Weissensee is known as the ice diving Eldorado. Thanks to Ernest Turnchek from the Yachtdivers. In the beginning, nobody trusted his idea of establishing a divecenter here, but today he employees many instructors, chainsaw experts and helping hands to open the way under the ice for scubadivers and organizes and supports many Ice Diving World Records.

Six years ago was my last record attempt, which was succesfully accomplished and marked the end of my ice diving career. For six years I haven´t been under the ice. When I did my last full breath and slowly slipped into the cold dark water, it took quite some time to get used to the cold water on my face, but after that I enjoyed the silence and the light once again… 

Written by
Profile Nik
When 5th March 2020
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