17 April 2016

Sky News put a great film together about our Freedive Antarctica expedition and I then gave a short interview.

As probably the first Brits to freedive in Antarctica (we can only find about 10 people that have ever freedived there), Sky News proudly proclaimed us as having made history…


Three men have become the first British people to free dive in Antarctica, braving the freezing water to swim beneath the ice simply by holding their breath.

They recorded their trip under the murky iceberg, seeing things never seen before, and gave Sky News the first look at it. Sky’s Rebecca William’s reports.

It took two years to plan and it’s an incredible feat. Three men, all from Britain, are believed to be the first to free dive in Antarctica in bitterly cold temperatures. Along the way they documented their trip.

It’s night time again and we’ve been sailing across Drake Passage for a day and a bit now. We’re partly making sure the boat stays on course, but also looking out for icebergs. Quite hard to see in the dead of night. Which is why we got this device, I’ll turn this cam around and show you. Our radar.

At night they sailed much of the journey in thick fog. But the views in daylight made it all worthwhile. Filming their entire journey, these pictures give a rare insight into life in Antarctica. Whales and seals swimming nearby, even photo opportunities with penguins. And all this, under sea ice in the Antarctic. The men decided to free dive, which meant they had to hold their breath underwater for minutes at a time, rather than using breathing equipment. It causes less disruption, allowing them to get closer to the wildlife. But it can also be incredibly dangerous, with many blacking out before they resurface. Even the Russian champion Natalia Molchanova is believed to have died following a dive she carried out in Ibiza last year.

It’s probably in competitions where people are maybe going for extreme dives that it would be slightly pushing their limits. But again you’re doing it in a safe environment, you’ve got safety divers there who are there to rescue you should anything go wrong.

The group traveled to Antarctica for three weeks in this specially designed boat. At times the only sound was from the relentless winds, or the music they played to keep their spirits up. So many pictures, so many memories. These three men have now made history. Rebecca William’s Sky News.

And one of those history-makers, Will Glendinning, member of the expedition you saw in that film is with us now. Amazing. Amazing shots and pictures there. I mean, views that we’d all like to see, but not many of us would like to go to the length that you had to go to.

It was incredible, I mean, we tried so hard to put it into words, when we were traveling back on the boat. Trying like I had to sum it up, I mean, it’s so hard to put it into words. The pictures don’t really do it justice, it was that amazing. Yeah.

Question for you. How long can you hold your breath for?

The longest I’ve bothered trying about five and a half minutes.

Five and a half minutes?

Yeah, but that’s when you’re just in the water not doing much. When you’re actually free diving you’re moving, using energy, and that’s therefore much less. Sort of two, three minutes at the most, I’d guess.

Very dangerous. I mean, first of all, free diving. Holding your breath for, say, roughly around two minutes, but doing that under ice.

Yeah, I mean, I suppose it looks more dangerous than it is. It’s all quite carefully measured and calculated, and we look at things before we do it, work at how to get in and out. We don’t take that many sort of uncalculated risks, it’s all quite slowly and methodically thought through.

Looks pretty dangerous to me.

When you’re underwater, though, can you really appreciate the beauty of what is down there, or is it only when you’re above the surface that you can actually sit back and say wow that was incredibly stunning?

It depends on what you’re looking at. I mean, in Antarctica the whole story is about the ice, and the ice formations, and the ice caves that we saw. It was just beautiful. And yeah, free diving is about as fish like as you can be without actually being a fish, I guess, and it’s just – it’s calm. It’s stunning. It’s beautiful. And you do take it in. It’s pretty incredible.

But the fish are meant to do this. That’s why they have gills. We don’t, do we?

Well we all came from fish originally. I mean, no we don’t have gills, but I guess it’s quite womb-like. It’s relaxing, it’s calm. It’s just such a beautiful place.

And this is purely for, is it seeking a thrill? Why do you do it?

I’d love to say that it was a big noble aim, I mean, it was, I’m much happier in water I think than I am on land, exploring water by free diving is the most natural way of doing it. And it’s just, it’s beautiful, it’s tranquil, it is, I know it doesn’t look it, but it’s quite a calm pursuit. I guess it’s the watery equivalent of yoga.

And what stands out for you for the whole trip? So I read that you think three weeks was too short. You wanna rush back.

It’s criminally short. Yes.

What stands out for you as the kind of abiding memory from that experience?

We went there thinking everything was gonna be about the wildlife. The penguins, the whales, the seals, and all of that. And that was there, but the real story was the environment. It was like being in the world’s biggest sculpture park. I mean, everywhere you went there was another beautiful bit of scenery, or bit of ice, or another sculpture underwater, above water. It was constant. Every minute we’d turn around and see something new and beautiful. It was just relentless.

That shot behind you that we’re showing now, is just gorgeous. Absolutely still, that water, isn’t it? Absolutely beautiful.

Mirror flat.

Will Glendinning, thank you for coming and sharing your shots with us, and your experience. Good to see you. And you’ll be out there soon, I’m sure.

I’d love to go back.

Thank you very much. Still to come, on Sunrise…