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Plunging into the deep

By Xing Yi and Xu Lin | China Daily | Updated: 2017-06-21 07:43
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Lu Wenjie dives with tiger sharks, to help raise people's awareness of living harmoniously with sea creatures.[Photo by Renee Woo/China Daily]

Lu Wenjie is one of a very small group who has done freediving in the freezing waters of the Antarctic Ocean. Xing Yi and Xu Lin report.

Mask on her face and fins on her feet, Lu Wenjie dives into the water. As a veteran freediver, who does not use breathing apparatus, even in deep water, every dive is a unique exploration of the body and nature.

But this time is more unique - she is diving in the Antarctic Ocean.

"I am excited to see icebergs, yet nervous and afraid at the same time," says Lu, adding that there are only about 10 people who have freedived into the icy waters of the Antarctic.

She speaks about freediving in the Antarctic to a room of 250 people in Beijing on June 10.

Lu, who can hold her breath for eight minutes and dive to more than 90 meters, is the female national record holder for freediving, a sport that needs little in equipment compared with scuba diving.

But freedivers have to conquer their fear of the lack of oxygen.

"This time, I conquer my fear of the cold and seasickness in the Antarctic," says Lu.

The audience watches on video as Lu travels with three divers on a trip sponsored by Harbor House Life, a global travel and outdoor sports company.

They sail from Argentina's Ushuaia, across the Drake Passage - notorious for its high waves that seasickness pills cannot counter - to the southernmost continent Antarctica.

When she is out on the deck, she fights the winds and the waves; when she is back in the cabin, she hits the pillow.

"Everyone is pushed to their limits," says Lu. "The boat is too small and sea too rough. No one knows what will come next."

"My body is in survival mode and my mind is blank."

It is six days on a 15-meter sailboat.

The winds die down only as they approach the continent.

They then arrive at Paradise Harbor.

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