Star freediver Amber Fillary, from Claremont, broke the Guinness World Record for freediving distance under ice in a costume near-freezing conditions in Norway on Saturday February 29.
She undertook the challenge as part of her mission to raise awareness of mental health.
The previous record stood at 50m and she shattered this convincingly by swimming a distance of 70m under ice with one breath.
The extraordinary achievement for a South African athlete follows her first attempt to break the record in 2019 in Finland, where she unfortunately was entangled in ropes and had to abort.
Fillary has battled depression and addiction in the past and the emotional setback after Finland almost derailed her ambitions.
But as she says, “depression and addiction should not get in the way of you reaching your dreams” and she set her sights on a second attempt.
Despite being the first person to hold South African colours freediving, she has no official sponsors, so she needed backing for the second attempts in Norway.
This is where she found support of the class she matriculated with in 1989 at Rustenburg Girls’ High School in Rondebosch.
Through their active WhatsApp group, her message spread and one classmate in particular kindly sponsored her record attempt this weekend to show the “power of women”.
Fillary currently holds two South African women’s freediving pool records for static breath hold (6 minutes) as well as distance breath hold with no fins (134 metres).
“Depression can make every task you attempt overwhelming, but the extremeness of freediving has showed me that the human body can do so much more than imagined and we can achieve anything if we can move beyond our fears and barriers. Even the biggest challenges can be overcome.”
One of the main motivators to break the World Record was to inspire others, who suffer from depression and addiction, to show how they can too overcome their mental struggles and reach their dreams.