A 40-year-old adventurer from the United Kingdom and his team appear to be the first Brits to ever freedive in Antarctica.
Only a handful of others have gone diving in the remote, icy waters there without using any equipment for breathing. Even just getting to the continent in one piece looks tough.
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Will Glendinning and his team spent the better part of a year training for their freediving expedition to Antarctica's Marguerite Bay this spring, including a trip to Iceland to test all their equipment in similarly cold conditions, reports Motherboard. The London-based crew set out from Puerto Williams, Chile, for the continent in mid-February.
Before they could begin contemplating diving, the group had to navigate water strewn with icebergs -- some the size of small countries. This was riskiest at night because the radar didn't always detect boulder-like ones that could still do significant damage.
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Then, upon arrival, the team initially experienced low visibility underwater. The plankton-laden water, which hovered around 30 degrees Fahrenheit, was so thick that they didn't even see a couple of humpback whales hanging out nearby until they began to move.
In addition to unexpected animal encounters, Glendinning's group also heard the sound of ice melting and crashing. It was surprisingly loud.
"Each time we got in the water, our boat's crew seemed ever more bewildered as to why we wanted to get into cold water with constant threats from leopard seals and unstable 'bergs," Glendinning says in a video chronicling the trip. "Risks aside, though, after a few days we were beginning to discover the practical and tolerable limits of free diving in polar waters."
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Glendinning only started freediving within the past several years. He's probably better known in the U.K. as a consultant, media commentator, and the founder of live events company Allium. He got bitten by the adventure bug, though. See how the whole expedition went on the Freedive Antarctica site.
Watching Glendinning's underwater footage as he navigates frozen tunnels and transparent ice edges, all I could think was: Don't go in there! That's scary! Iceberg right ahead! The soaring music in his "Freedive Antarctica" video couldn't trick me. I had a nightmare once that looked like this.
Clearly I'm not cut out for freediving, much less under thick islands of ice. But Glendinning is, and boy did he go the distance. "If you only like crystal clear warm water, Antarctica isn't for you," he said on the expedition site. Duly noted.