Stig Åvall Severinsen is arguably the finest freediver in the world. He’s earned World Champion honors on four different occasions, shattered numerous records, and once held his breath underwater for 20 minutes while submerged in a shark tank. Yep, 20 minutes.
And yet, despite all of these accomplishments, Severinsen recently traveled to Greenland to notch an achievement that is extraordinary even by his standards: a 250-foot swim beneath a block of ice on a single breath, while wearing nothing more than a Speedo. In doing so, Stig broke the previous record of 236 feet ― which he also set.
Guinness Editor-in-Chief Craig Glenday offered perhaps the best description of Severinsen’s feat. “Some of our record achievements are easy to attempt but not necessarily easy to beat, and some attempts–like these–are difficult to attempt and difficult to beat,” he told GrindTV.
“For Stig, it has always been about pushing the limits of what a human body can do, and his record-breaking success is testament to his technique, attitude and physicality.”
Severinsen’s ability to hold his breath underwater for previously unfathomable periods of time is the stuff of myth. But as the superhuman Dane outlined in his best-selling memoir, Træk Vejret – mere energi, mindre stress (known as Breatheology: the Art of Conscious Breathing here in the U.S.), the skill is merely a byproduct of physical conditioning and stress control exercises. He even founded a website devoted to teaching others how to master the art of underwater ‘breathing’.
The icy swim he performed earlier this month involved swimming toward an ‘escape hole’ in order to reach dry land. In an interview with GrindTV, he explained his mindset during these epic undertakings:
“I’m paralyzed in my whole body [and] the coldness doesn’t matter. I’m way beyond that point. And I have to just keep working, keep working, keep working. I have only to focus on working. Pushing my body to the maximum limit. If your mind gets stiff, like your body, then the whole thing can be a disaster. Because if my mind freaks out, you’re going to panic, and panic is what kills. I just sleep almost, in that emptiness and that freedom. I kind of do everything in slow motion.”
Keep it up, Stig ― we can’t wait to see what you do next.