Free-diver sets new world record by swimming 262 feet under icy lake

A Russian free-diver has set his 20th world record by swimming 262 feet beneath a frozen lake’s surface.

Alexey Molchanov, whose mother died six years ago while free-diving, fearlessly plunged through a hole cut into icy Lake Baikal in Siberia.

The 34-year-old donned a wet suit seven times thicker than normal to brave the cold and was clipped onto a rope to guide him through the inky waters. 

He reached a depth of 262 feet in just two minutes where he grabbed hold of an illuminated plate before rising to the surface to claim the world record for the deepest free dive under ice with fins. 

Alexey Molchanov, whose mother died six years ago while free-diving, fearlessly plunged through a hole in cut into icy Lake Baikal in Siberia to claim the new world record last Tuesday

Alexey Molchanov, whose mother died six years ago while free-diving, fearlessly plunged through a hole in cut into icy Lake Baikal in Siberia to claim the new world record last Tuesday

Alexey Molchanov, whose mother died six years ago while free-diving, fearlessly plunged through a hole in cut into icy Lake Baikal in Siberia to claim the new world record last Tuesday

Russian free-diver Alexei Molchanov dives 262 feet under the ice of Lake Baikal to set a new Guinness world record

Russian free-diver Alexei Molchanov dives 262 feet under the ice of Lake Baikal to set a new Guinness world record

Russian free-diver Alexei Molchanov dives 262 feet under the ice of Lake Baikal to set a new Guinness world record

Russian free-diver Alexei Molchanov dives 262 feet under the ice of Lake Baikal to set a new Guinness world record

Russian free-diver Alexei Molchanov dives 262 feet under the ice of Lake Baikal to set a new Guinness world record

Russian freediver Alexei Molchanov attempts to set a new Guinness World Record for plunging 80 metres in the icy waters of Lake Baikal on March 16

Russian freediver Alexei Molchanov attempts to set a new Guinness World Record for plunging 80 metres in the icy waters of Lake Baikal on March 16

Russian freediver Alexei Molchanov attempts to set a new Guinness World Record for plunging 80 metres in the icy waters of Lake Baikal on March 16

Russian free-diver Alexei Molchanov is seen after claiming the new world record for an under ice free dive

Russian free-diver Alexei Molchanov is seen after claiming the new world record for an under ice free dive

Russian free-diver Alexei Molchanov is seen after claiming the new world record for an under ice free dive

Russian free-diver Alexei Molchanov poses for a photograph on Lake Baikal

Russian free-diver Alexei Molchanov poses for a photograph on Lake Baikal

Russian free-diver Alexei Molchanov poses for a photograph on Lake Baikal

‘It’s dark at this depth,’ diving judge Alexey Serov told

His mother Natalia Molchanov is a legend of the sport and Alexey has followed in her footsteps. He is currently the most decorated free-diver in the world.

Last Tuesday’s dive was his deepest under ice, but his deepest ever was at 426 feet in the Bahamas in 2018 for the warm water world record. 

As an experienced free-diver, Molchanov can hold his breath for close to nine minutes. 

‘For me, Freediving Suit is not just a job or hobby, but a life’s work, and I am glad to have this new opportunity to share this amazing sport with as large an audience as possible,’ Molchanov said after his dive.

‘This is not even just a sport, but a way to learn how to manage your psychological state.’

Russian freediver Alexei Molchanov attempts to set a new Guinness World Record for plunging 80 metres in the icy waters of Lake Baikal on March 16

Russian freediver Alexei Molchanov attempts to set a new Guinness World Record for plunging 80 metres in the icy waters of Lake Baikal on March 16

Russian freediver Alexei Molchanov attempts to set a new Guinness World Record for plunging 80 metres in the icy waters of Lake Baikal on March 16

Russian free-diver Alexei Molchanov is pictured in an ice hole in Lake Baikal

Russian free-diver Alexei Molchanov is pictured in an ice hole in Lake Baikal

Russian free-diver Alexei Molchanov is pictured in an ice hole in Lake Baikal

Russian free-diver Alexei Molchanov is pictured in an ice hole in Lake Baikal ahead of his world record attempt in Siberia last Tuesday

Russian free-diver Alexei Molchanov is pictured in an ice hole in Lake Baikal ahead of his world record attempt in Siberia last Tuesday

Russian free-diver Alexei Molchanov is pictured in an ice hole in Lake Baikal ahead of his world record attempt in Siberia last Tuesday

He deployed his mother’s technique of ‘deconcentration’ where, instead of becoming overwhelmed by the place, Freediving Suit he detached from it visually and psychologically.

Molchanov dedicated his new record to Lake Baikal, calling it ‘a unique natural phenomenon and a living organism that is important to preserve for future generations.’ 

Outside of the water he is a conservationist and dedicates much of his time to promoting environmental issues, including clean water. 

He is an ambassador for the Lake Baikal Foundation, a charity and research group which aims to preserve the beauty of the lake.

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