Holy moly it's hot! Time for a swim with Johanna!

So far it's been a sultry summer. I'm 100% on board with that.

But yesterday I took a 3 minute and 47 second break from the heat with Finnish freediver Johanna Nordblad. She freedives under the ice. And not just a little bit. She's a world record holder who came to the sport after she nearly lost her leg in a downhill mountain biking crash. Ice therapy to save her leg led to this.  

I love freediving, the otherworldliness of it. But I've never seen anything quite like this video of Johanna trekking across the Arctic ice, cutting a hole, and slipping through.  It's so beautifully shot and really captures the tranquility of freediving, something that's only amplified under the ice. 

Sea change: The photography of Sarah Lee

The earth is 71 percent water.

The human body is 60 percent water.

For the next several months, in my neck of the woods anyway, both of these things will be frozen solid. 

Before I get going here, let me just say that I'm a big fan of ice. Ice is one of the few things I like in my cocktail (other than the cocktail itself). I appreciate what ice has done for hockey. I enjoy cutting holes in ice and extracting fish. But goddamnit anyway. In the end, I prefer water when it's moving around. When it's pushing me this way and that. I prefer water when it's alive.

Case in point is the work of photographer Sarah Lee. She's born and based on the Big Island of Hawaii and her love of moving water comes through in every image. Her still photos are amazing. 

And the video at the top of this post? Yowza. It's a teaser for a short film she collaborated on called Kainos which, as far as I can tell, hasn't been released. But oh man I'd love to see it.

Earlier this year I wrote about freediving photographer Daan Verhoeven. His work, to me, carries serious weight. There's a stillness to what he does – an almost religious sense of gravity. It's stunning.

Sarah's work is stunning too, but in an entirely different way. It's an outright celebration of moving water – swirls of slivering beauty and brute force and the lucky ones that have found their place comfortably within it. 

Sarah was kind enough to let me share her images. Not only that, she signed off her note with "mahalo nui." Some people are just cool like that.

Check out more of her work, underwater and alongside it, on her site.

Daan Verhoeven: Rising to new depths

I'm not a religious person. But the photography of Daan Verhoeven has got me thinking about it. He specializes in images of freedivers. But to my eyes it seems he's capturing angels – rising and falling both.

I first discovered Daan's work on Instagram. For context, my typical Instagram session is a sliding scroll through my brain: a discombobulated mish-mash of aggressively filtered rum drinks, bomb-ass Sprinter van conversions, and women in bikinis holding fish. As you might guess, there's also plenty of diving photography in the mix.

But when a @daanverhoevenfreediver image shows up? It stops me in my tracks every time. The quality of light is what hits me first. He shoots using only natural light which, at depth, can be ridiculously dramatic. (I'd mention Caravaggio here but ain't nobody coming to Bring Limes to hear about Caravaggio.) Next is his sense of composition: the relationship between the divers and the space around them. With the boat above or the bottom below. With water. It's no surprise Daan is a freediver himself. There would be no other way to capture the spirit of the thing the way he does.

Finally, his images exude the gravity of freediving. There's an understood danger here, especially at the competitive level which is mostly what Daan shoots. Depths routinely reach more than 100 meters. Breath hold times can push 8 or 9 minutes. Deep water blackout is always a risk, and usually catastrophic, even for the best freedivers in the world.

My version of freediving is an entirely different thing. It's me vs. fish. And since the fish around here are almost always shallower than 30 or 40 feet, so am I. Of course, there are risks in anything (e.g. shallow water blackout). Realistically though? The worst case scenario for me on any given day? No ceviche for Johnny.

But still. The sensation of being at depth, at any depth, is a peaceful important thing for me. I don't know if my connection to water is rooted in the primordial, the prenatal, or something less profound.

But I know it feels just like Daan Verhoeven's photographs.