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Four reasons to try ice diving

SuuntoDive — 28 January 2016

Usually freediving events are held in warm and sunny locations like Dean’s Blue Hole in the Bahamas, but not Asikkala on the Rocks. It’s held every March in Finland and involves plunging through a hole in a sheet of ice and diving down into the biting waters beneath. Pure madness, you think? “Not at all,” says organizer Antero Joki, Finland’s top freediver. “It’s a spiritual feeling. It’s not about how deep you go, it’s about the feeling.” Here’re four reasons to give ice freediving a go.

Feeling brave? Jump in in your swimsuit. © Pekka Tuuri

The thrill of the cold

Despite what you might think, diving in frigid water doesn’t feel terrible once you get past the initial shock. “It’s actually thrilling,” Antero says. “Every time someone overcomes their fear of the cold and goes for it, they come out of the water smiling. Of course you can feel the coldness through your wetsuit, but it’s not bad. You can stay in only for half an hour, but that’s enough to enjoy this incredible underwater experience.”  

“Every time someone overcomes their fear of the cold and goes for it, they come out of the water smiling.”

© Pekka Tuuri

The underwater ambience

“It’s hard to describe this; you have to experience it for yourself,” Antero says. “There’s total silence. There’s this twilight light and the ice creates a shadow theater. You can see shadows of the people moving on the surface of the ice. And even though it’s cold, it feels cozy.”

It teaches relaxation

“It’s always a maximum of 4°C below 10 m so it’s always cold and it’s always dark,” Antero says. “But when you learn to relax in a cold and dark water it means when you freedive in warm water it’s so much easier to be relaxed.”

© Pekka Tuuri

The Finnish saunas

Before plunging through the ice, Asikkala on the Rocks participants relax in saunas to prepare themselves and then again afterwards to warm up. “The combination of warmth and cold is good for body and mind,” Antero says. “It’s a very relaxing atmosphere.”

MAIN IMAGE: © Pekka Tuuri