Free diver attempts world record to tackle stigmas around mental health


An icy lake in Finland is set to be the stage for a South African free diver’s daring attempt to beat a Guinness World Record – all to raise awareness for the plight of those suffering from mental illness.

Amber Fillary, who has already broken a number of national records for static and dynamic free diving, is on her way to Finland to shatter the world record for free diving under ice. The current record holder, Johanna Nordblat, set the world record in March 2015, diving 50 metres under the ice in 2 °C water while only wearing a swimsuit, mask and cap.

Two years ago, while Fillary was putting plans into motion to attempt the current world record, Nordblat challenged Fillary to a swim off. Unfortunately, Fillary was unable to accept the challenge at the time as she was suffering from serious depression.

“I eventually went to see a psychiatrist who prescribed medication that helped me to better cope with the illness. Once I was back on my feet, I decided to accept Johanna’s challenge and set the date for 21 March 2019.”

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Production engineer and certified swim coach. Full-time IT consultant, spare-time swimming aficionado. 2 sons, 2 daughters and a wife. President of the Faroe Islands Swimming Association. Likes to run :-)

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