250 feet under the ice wearing speedos

Freediver Stig Severinsen sets a (cold) new world record swimming under the ice.
By Evan David

For most people, just sticking a hand into the freezing waters of a lake is enough to send the body into recoil. For bragging rights there are those who'll brave a dip into a frozen lake after a sauna — and bolt back to the warmth immediately afterwards.

And then there's Stig Severinsen. He is in a whole new league of impressiveness. The Danish freediver stripped down to his speedos, took a deep breath and swam 250 feet (76.2m) under the ice for a minute and a half on a single breath of air, earning himself a Guinness World Record.

When you're hypothermic, your mind is not all that clear – you have poor judgement!

The video above – released recently in October – offers a swim-along-side view of Severinsen's unbelievable feat, which occured in April.

Severinsen approaches the surface. © Per Hallum

To prepare, Stig often trained in the winter in Denmark – completely naked. “We have a great 'viking club' so I go 'polar bear' swimming as often as I can, and train for longer and longer dives,” says Severinsen. “I also spent time training in frozen lakes of Norway and Finland the last few years. It's a wonderful way to see such pristine areas and merge with nature.”

Stig Severinsen diving trough the warm water
Severinsen - a multiple record holding freediver © Morten Bjørn Larsen

While you would think such a dive would leave Severinsen exhausted and stressed, it's entirely the opposite. “Usually, I feel very good after a dive. Very happy, with endorphins pumping around my body – but this is a dangerous moment. When you're hypothermic, your mind is not all that clear – you have poor judgement!”

Stig Severinsen posing for a portrait on the beach
Stig Severinsen posing for a portrait on the beach © Discovery Networks / Ben Bhatia

The cold water increases the danger level significantly for both Stig and his safety divers. “Icy water can quickly lead to 'free flow' in the dive gear and the diver can lose all their air in seconds,” he says.

For Severinsen – diving in nothing but a pair of blue speedos – it's not about gear, it's about stress. “Somehow I can control stress level. Most likely because I am not driven by fear, but by passion and curiosity. Or you could just say I try to keep a cool head.”

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