Weekend Warm-Up: Shades of Water-Ice

Anna von Bötticher

Anna von Bötticher, 49, has been freediving since 2007. In those 13 years, she has evolved into Germany’s most successful freediver. She holds 33 national diving records and one world record. But exploring both her limits and unusual places is what drives her. She can hold her breath for more than six minutes and has dived on a single gulp of air down to 125m.

From her early days playing in the Alps, von Bötticher has been fascinated with the Arctic and Antarctic. Last year, her polar passion drew her to freedive under the ice in Tasiilaq, Greenland. Being under the ice “was like going to another planet,” she said.

Photo: Tobias Frederick

In the fiord, the surface temperature was -27°C., while the water temperature under the ice was -2°C. Von Bötticher had to carefully plan every detail for safety. For example, the small hole her team cut into the ice for her was triangle-shaped, because that doesn’t often occur naturally and she could recognize it easier on the way up. The many bits of ice floating in the sea, from bergy bits to ice floes, meant that she couldn’t use a safety rope. Many pieces of underwater ice created further obstructions. During the frigid dive, her heart rate dropped to 29 beats a minute. She describes the feeling as “the most silent you can be”.

It was easy to become disoriented because “everything looks so alien,” she said. In fact, she did lose her way once underwater and describes it as a “special moment”. Not panicking was a key to survival.

Her diving partner and photographer, Tobias Frederick, filmed her dive in this beautiful and exotic world.

About the Author

Rebecca McPhee

Aspiring sports and travel journalist based in the UK.

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