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  • Johanna

Johanna tells: How I started freediving and freediving in cold water.

I tried freediving first time in my life in 2000, when the first club in Finland opened, and right there and then I knew I would only be focusing on freediving instead of ever carrying scuba bottles in my life again. That same year I went to the World Championships in France. Year 2004 I made a world record in distance diving with fins 158 m. Now my personal best in competitions is 192 m (Dynamic, distance with fins) and I can hold my breath more than 6 min 30 sec. I’m a record holder of diving under the ice 50 meters from ice hole to another wearing only swimming suit.

In 2010 I broke my leg very badly while downhill biking. They had to do a complicated procedure called “fasciotomy” and keep the whole thing exposed for about a week. The bone was shattered into little pieces, so I had to walk with sticks for almost a year. And it was painful. I was waking up almost every night for about 3 years because of the pain. It was nerve pain, and very strong nerve pain. Of course it also made me happy to feel it, because it reminded me I still have my leg. That was also the moment, when I really started this cold water thing. First the cold felt very painful but when I got used to the feeling of cold I felt it was the only place where I could get over the pain. Actually it was very relaxing. It was very similar to freediving in general. So, little by little I got used to it so after a couple of months I wanted to put both of my legs in the cold water. After a while I jumped in the cold water for a little dive.

Because I'm a freediver it was natural to want to dive in cold water too. I think being in cold water is the opposite to breath holding. Breath holding starts easy, then gets worse and worse and worse… Cold water is the opposite: it starts painful, then it gets easier and easier and easier. It’s fascinating and interesting, I think. As a freediver of course I wanted to mix these two things. Freediving in cold water. Freediving needs total relaxation. Diving in cold water needs it a little bit more. And freediving in cold water under the ice is such a big challenge to me that I had to put all my effort to make it. Maximum dive is very hard for the body, and after a while it becomes very hard for the mind too. You’re on the limit, and your body is telling you that this is not okay. In freediving I’m competing to see what is my limit. It’s very fascinating and interesting to see, that I can do it in the most extreme conditions as I can imagine.

Pics by Elina, www.elinamanninen.com

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