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What I'm Reading: On the pain of greatness

"For 210 seconds, she will be suspended in the liminal zone between this life and the next.

In a place where the water’s weight will wrap her in a strong hug and shrink her lungs to the size of tennis balls. Where her heart rate will slow to 30 beats a minute, and her arteries will constrict to stop blood supply to her legs and arms. Where, if her oxygen runs too low on the ascent, she will black out and rely on the white-vested safety divers to pull her to the surface, call her name, and blow on her eyelids to stimulate breathing and keep her from drifting off further, toward death

How does this happen?

How do you go from having no confidence at age 30, to being the most assured, deepest female diver in the world just a decade later? From nearly taking your life, to making elite athletes shake their heads in astonishment at your achievements and lack of ego? From hating life so much to loving it so deeply?

These are questions people sometimes ask, and one part of the answer is that Alenka not only came to terms with her past — she drew strength from it.

— It’s because of the pain, she says. I surrendered to the pain, embraced it; that’s when you get the big growth.

The other part of the answer is simpler. She trains like hell."

Xan Rice on Alenka Artnik, the best female freediver

Formatting mine.


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