Freediving is a discipline that fascinates as much as it frightens. Hold your breath, lose your bearings and let yourself be captivated by the dark, silent and mysterious world of the ice floe, for Arthur Guérin Boëri, it is his daily life. This young freediver can last more than 7 minutes without breathing underwater. A journey of the extreme during which each movement is precise and the desire to breathe, a permanent struggle.
On March 11, 2017, Arthur Guérin Boëri, achieved a record, 175 meters of freediving under the ice in the heart of Finland. Under the ice floes, or during training in a swimming pool, the sensations of apnea are mesmerizing.
“The fact of finding yourself in weightlessness, in the water, in the silence, in contact with the element the feeling of sliding, there is a real well-being that is felt. In addition you block your ventilation which is very symbolic, we cut ourselves off from the outside world so in this silence and this weightlessness, there is something very exhilarating, it’s very pleasant ” he explains.
A high level athlete who loves a challenge
His next challenge, to find the depths of the pack ice and set a new record, this time leaving fins and wetsuit at home: “I will be in water between 0 and 2 degrees in my underwear, under 50 centimeters of ice minimum, so there is really a very important cold acclimatization component to manage, I would even say that today it is the biggest work for me more than freediving “.
To acclimatize your body to the cold and prepare for this extraordinary challenge, training is daily. Arthur is surrounded by a team of experts, and has very sophisticated equipment. A sports bra analyzes and records the heart rate in real time, he also has to swallow a strange drug.
“We make him swallow a thermal capsule to analyze the body temperature, that is to say the temperature really in the body. This will allow us to check that the body temperature does not drop too much and if it drops, to monitor tolerance. at the cardiac and respiratory level ” specifies a member of his team.
See the world differently
The workout begins with a few minutes of muscle relaxation and relaxation. Self-control and concentration are key elements for success in this discipline as explained by his physical trainer: “We will try to work so that the freediver can breathe as much as possible, that is to say increase the thoracic amplitude, to store as much air as possible and that there is no tension when we have air”.
Throughout his effort, the athlete’s constants are recorded. Out of the water, Arthur manages to hold out for 5 minutes without breathing, without much difficulty. Once submerged in a basin of cold water, the performance is much more complex to reproduce.
“When you immerse yourself in water at 9 degrees, immersion, that is to say the fact of putting your head under water, you have a certain number of receptors in the face, around the eye sockets, which so that immediately we have the heart rate which drops that can constitute a danger especially when the heart is too slow.
We saw when he reaches the end of his apnea it is at 30 per minute, we are at the limit of normal cardiac functioning and next to that we see that the blood pressure rises in a reflex manner to maintain the cardiac output at the maximum in these extreme conditions “.
A stronger urge to breathe
Arthur tries to push the limits of his body, but after 3 minutes, the urge to breathe is stronger: “We try different things each time. There we did a 5 minute dry snorkel and we went into cold water, which slowed down my metabolism, I cooled off, so in cold water I did not support “.
An apnea shortened but quickly forgotten. That same evening, Arthur has an appointment for a little night expedition. The rain, water at 7 degrees… the ideal conditions for diving a little head into the Ourcq canal in Paris and continuing your cold acclimatization training!
“It stings, it stings, I have the impression that it is at 0. It’s always the first 2, 3 minutes that are difficult and after that it calms down” he recounts.
On March 26, 2022 in Canada, Arthur will attempt to set a new world record, freediving 102 meters under the ice floe, without fins or wetsuits.