A 40-year-old Czech free diver recently broke a very cold and very wet world record. Back on March 14th, David Vencl dove 170 feet below the frozen surface of Switzerland’s Lake Sils. Measured in meters since it took place in Europe, his 52.1-meter dive will now be etched into the pages of the Guinness Book of World Records. In 2021 Vencl also made the book when he swam the length of a frozen Czech lake underwater.
Reuters recently shared the story of his world-class free dive. For his latest record-breaking accomplishment, Vencl shimmied through a hole in the ice and dove below. Then he fetched a sticker that had been sunken to a depth of 50 meters. He then crawled back out of the same hole in the ice. After proving the depth of his dive by presenting the sticker, he spat up some blood and sat down to catch his breath. Then he opened up a bottle of champagne to celebrate. He later went to the hospital where a precautionary evaluation proved he was all good.
The water temps below the surface were just above freezing, at about 33-37 degrees Fahrenheit depending on depth. The whole ordeal took 1 minute and 54 seconds. Pavel Kalous, the divers promoter said it did take a little longer than expected. “He kind of enjoyed it but he admits he was a little more nervous than usual and he had some problems with breathing,” he said. “There is nothing difficult for him to be in cold water… Lack of oxygen is something normal for him. But this was completely different because it’s really difficult to work with the pressure in your ears in cold water. If you combine all these three things: cold water, lack of oxygen, and the problem with working with pressure, it’s something very unique.”
Alaska Free Diver Breaks Halibut World Record
The last time a free diver made world record-breaking headlines, it was a 32-year-old Alaska woman named Lisa Stengel who speared the world record Pacific Halibut.
“I love a good challenge and Alaska was definitely the right playing field,” Stengel begins on her Instagram. “The water is cold, the visibility is bad, the current is worse but the abundance of wildlife and the coastline views are stunning.”
Ah, the language of the Outsider. Do continue, Lisa! What a champion she is. The freediver made the best of Alaska’s frigid waters – and her search for a spearfishing challenge paid off tenfold as she has set the world record for Pacific halibut! To do so, Stengel speared her massive 71.4-pound behemoth while diving just south of Homer, Alaska on July 12, 2021.
“I may have shot this fish by myself but I definitely couldn’t have done it without the company of the best dive crew ever @jferraragallery @chrisdupes @bertie_bda @iuseaspear,” she tags of her team in the fantastic gallery above. “Thanks for showing me that the big ones are out there, that no day is complete without a trip to the hardware store, and for sharing the catches of the day cooked to perfection.”
In addition, Stengel thanks “@coldwateralaska @alaskabuscompany for cheering me on and sharing your home waters with us. To @headhunterspearfish, thanks for the best fish poker that ever was designed, my Nomad slayed!” she adds of her spear. Stengel wore a 7-millimeter wetsuit for the 46-degree water for her brilliant catch.