ice antartic diving

Diving estremo fra i ghiacci antartici: a rischio di morte. Si chiama freediver questa nuova specialità. il recordaman è un “avventuriero” inglese Will Glendinning


Autore: Sarah Emerson, 13 aprile 2016


Some of us havvewnturieroave hobbies like bird watching or book club. Hobbies that are safe, sensible, and definitely not likely to get us trapped under a 200,000-ton iceberg with no air tank or means to get out.

But that’s because none of us are Will Glendinning, a British adventurer and now record-breaking freediver.

Glendinning says he only began the sport of freediving four or five years ago. But despite his relative newness to the extreme activity, he and a group of four friends just succeeded in becoming the first Brits believed to have ever freedived in the most foreboding environment on Earth: Antarctica.

It took two years of planning, but after setting off from the southern tip of Chile, Glendinning and his group arrived by boat at Marguerite Bay, Antarctica in search of the adventure of their lifetimes.

Discovered by French polar scientist Jean-Baptiste Charcot, Marguerite Bay was fondly named after the explorer’s wife, and is rich in wildlife such as the blue-eyed shag and elephant seal. Its conglomeration of tiny islands is currently home the Antarctic Peninsula’s only rookery of emperor penguins, which have faced population losses in recent years due to the cascading effects of climate change.

Glendinning described his crew’s journey through a maze of ice floes and icebergs “the size of countries” as being an experience that nothing could’ve ever prepared them for.

“There is nothing that gives you a sense of perspective or scale. So you can be looking at a cliff, you know, a towering 20-storey-high lump of ice tearing off the end of a glacier, thinking it’s sort of 400 meters away. Actually it’s 2 or 3 miles away,” he remarked in the video.

Once they were ready to hit the water, the team was a bit dismayed by its lack of visibility. As the footage shows, some dive spots where shrouded in a murky green hue that would’ve made it difficult for divers to see more than several feet in front of their masks. But in spite of these unfavorable conditions, Glendinning was still able find clearer spots under the ice to dive down and explore the undersides of glaciers, expanses of tunnels, and strange caves of blue and white ice.

Freediving is a sport that can easily become fatal if someone so much as ascends a second too quickly. Athletes must increase their lung volume, maximize the efficiency of available oxygen to meet their metabolic needs, and, above all, remain calm.

According to 41-world-record-holding diver Natalia Molchanova, who died last yearwhile freediving off an island near Ibiza: “The art of freediving comes in optimizing performance while controlling risks. Smart freedivers train and practice in well-supported groups with good safety procedures in place, and then increase their performance in extremely small increments. The difference between success and failure can be small and the distance to the failure point stubbornly unclear. The discipline of small increments is absolutely critical to reducing the risk of a bad outcome.”

For Glendinning, the biggest risk, apart from those inherent in the art of freediving itself, was glacier tipping. Icebergs can exceed weights of 100 million tons, but they’re very delicately balanced in the water. So being underneath one as it suddenly tips over could have very well killed the Antarctic freedivers.

Thankfully, nothing happened to the team, and they were able to leave with some pretty incredible footage of an environment that very few people on the planet will ever see up-close.

“If your affinity with water is anything like mine, freediving in a place, which is defined by water, has been created by water, and a large part is still made of water, it seemed like a natural pilgrimage to me,” said Glendinning of his trip. “In the end, the time we had was so short, and I have to go back.”