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Quebec high diver makes massive 22-metre dive into a hole in frozen quarry lake

Red Bull cliff diver Lysanne Richard continues to amaze

Quebec's Lysanne Richard, a former circus artist and one of the top cliff divers in the world, needed something more, something to once again take her far outside her comfort zone. So, she scurried up to the top of a 22-metre platform during winter and dove, feet first into the three-degree water through a hole sliced through the thick ice and, for a moment, disappeared.

The terrifying high dive could land Richard in the Guinness Book of World Records, and will be the subject of a short film soon to be released. Diver Yves Milord, 59, made the attempt following Richard. 

Richard's dive (photo by @mathieutranchida)

 

“it's about challenging ourselves and doing better than we did before, and I’ve never had that much challenge with a high dive before,” says Richard. “ It was totally out of my control but it's really what I've reached in this project I want to go as far as possible out of that comfort zone. This is what I was aiming for and I'm so glad we did it.”

The dive was held at a former quarry site in the Thetford region of south-central Quebec where Richards is establishing a training facility for high divers. Richards had time to work on developing the centre after the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“This is one of the projects I developing during the pandemic,” she says. “I was super busy. I have a lot of different projects I want to do. And the fact that I didn't have to travel, I have more time to give up the new project.”

Of course, winter diving into a 24-inch hole in the ice isn’t a normal offering at the new centre. And, it was something that caused some nerves in Richard, who is used to diving off pretty much anything and everything during her competitions. 

“During the summer, we really can see the water and the deep blue of the lake and fish and it's really really nice,” Richard says. “But during the winter the water seems really dark and it was kind of scary. And I was a bit afraid of going out and getting stuck under the ice.”

An entire team was on-hand to construct the site and assist Richard

 

It was also difficult for Richard to move around given the thick wetsuit and hood she had to wear. 

The ice, murky water and restrictive clothing all added up to more nerves than the acclaimed athlete and mother of three had experienced in a long time. 

“Before the dive I found my confidence and I was calm and I knew i could make it happen and that it was doing to be good,” Richard explains. “But during the process there was way more stress, and event the morning of the shoot I was like I really cannot change my mind? But everybody was working so hard so this was a new kind of pressure."

There was an entire team of people working to make the dive happen, including those who worked on the ice to create the opening.

When Richards made her attempt, there was a safety team in place in the water waiting for her should anything have gone awry or if she moved in the wrong direction while under the water. But she popped right back up to the surface almost immediately following her dive. 

A raw video of the attempt

 

Soon, the short film of the dive will be released, in addition Richard will be the subject of an upcoming documentary. 

Richard moved into high diving following her career in the circus arts with the acclaimed Cirque du Soleil.  She also represented Canada at the 2015 World Aquatics Championships in the women's high diving event.

There is a good chance Richard will return to the Red Bull Cliff Diving series this summer, where she won bronze in 2018 and 2019, but if she doesn’t, she is ready to push forward with new projects and continue to test her limits. 

“My way of seeing my sport is really more about sharing than trying to do better than all the others and even the message I want to share with my kids is that there is too much more than only wanting to win, you know,” she says. “So I feel more at peace with my way of thinking and my value when I'm developing my project than when I tried to go on the competition for winning.”

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