French duo bring frigid freediving to Qikiqtarjuaq, Nunavut

A pair of French freedivers are in Qikiqtarjuaq this weekend to do something people rarely do: go swimming off Baffin Island in February.

'We want to know the secret of the ice,' diver says

French freedivers Laurent Marie (pictured) and Cedric Batteur will be demonstrating their sport in Qikiqtarjuaq. (Submitted by Laurent Marie)

A pair of French freedivers are in Qikiqtarjuaq, Nunavut, this weekend to do something people rarely do: go swimming off Baffin Island in February.

Cedric Batteur and Laurent Marie are part of L'Ame Bleue, an organization that uses the sport of freediving – deep diving without any artificial breathing apparatus – to teach people about the marine environment.

The pair are there to teach local kids – and adults – about freediving, but they also want to learn about the Arctic environment and, with luck, swim with marine mammals such as narwhal.

"We want to know the secret of the ice, to know the secret of the Arctic," said Laurent Marie, one of the divers.

It's the pair's second trip to the hamlet, having travelled there this past summer.

Laurent Marie helps a young diver from Qikiqtarjuaq put on a dry suit during L'Ame Bleue's trip to the Nunavut hamlet last summer. (Joël Marie)

Since the waters of the Davis Strait are, you know, cold this time of year, the duo dive in drysuits. They're bringing along extra ones in both child and adult sizes if anyone else wants to try.

"There are many things to discover under the sea," said diver Cedric Batteur. "We are passionate and we want to share this passion."

And while freedivers typically don't dive with ropes to guide them, they will in Qikiqtarjuaq, since they'll be heading into the water with a local diver who harvests clams under the ice.

The duo are travelling with a film crew who will produce a documentary of their trip. They will also be collecting Arctic plankton samples for a French university.


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