Mo Bro Luke Adams in GreenlandImage by: Luca Malaguti
13 July 2022

No Wetsuit, No Oxygen: Freediving Under an Iceberg for Men’s Mental Health

Mo Bro
Luke Adams
5 minutes read time

80% of all suicides are men and 49% of men feel more depressed than they admit to others. It’s been historically taboo for men to speak about their emotional struggles and mental health.

Personally, I've struggled with anxiety and self-doubt for the past 25 years of my life. Like many men, I kept this to myself until just a few weeks ago. As a commercial filmmaker and entrepreneur, I wanted to do something that had never been done before, in order to inspire men to feel confident in sharing their own mental health journey. The idea was to create a short film involving swimming underneath an iceberg in Greenland wearing only a pair of Sheath Underwear -- no oxygen tank, no mask and no wetsuit. All while being exposed to the coldest water on Earth at 28° F.

I’ve always had the impression that I needed to hide my struggles below the surface in order to appear “a man”. The first few months of the pandemic caused me to collapse and sink into the darkest 12-month period of my life under the pressures of running a business, financial insecurities, and isolation.

" It was then that I learned that asking for help wouldn't make me weak. It meant surviving to fight another day. "

At this point you may be asking yourself, “What do icebergs have to do with mental health?” Symbolically, many of us hide our struggles below the surface away from friends, family members and even ourselves. Our hope for this film is to serve as a powerful visual metaphor on the invisible battles that many of us hide, just below the surface.

During the filming, anxiety was in abundance. We ran into several major setbacks. First, we had a luggage mix-up that left our most important prop -- the only pair of Sheath Underwear -- in Iceland. Then it was an issue of transportation. Because the sea ice made traveling by boat impossible, our safety diver, Vannesa Sierra had to fly into our village (Tasiilaq, Greenland) by helicopter. This caused a very stressful first few days in Greenland without that very special pair of underwear, but we adapted by focusing on underwater closeups.

Second, the water was significantly colder than any of us had anticipated. We had all trained extensively in just-above freezing water but dealing with 28° F was a huge difference. It felt like we were instantly freezing from the inside out. I remember diving off the boat head-first and having very serious doubts about the project after experiencing the cold. I kept thinking: “This project is stupid. The water is way too cold to dive with no wetsuit. There’s no way this will work”. Months of training, tens of thousands of dollars spent and a team of people counting on me, and I’m ready to throw in the towel on the first day.

Day 2, I spent the whole morning reminding myself why I was doing this. It was more than proving something to myself. It was about proving to the world that the invisible battles we all hide below the surface deserve to be heard. That afternoon, we set off on the boat and found an iceberg to dive. I jumped onto the paddleboard and started doing my warm-up breathing before diving down the line. As soon as the ice-cold water hit my face, I wanted to turn back to the surface. But I remembered my purpose and pulled myself deeper. As I descended further and further, both the urge to breath and the freezing feeling disappeared until I felt total relaxation. Once I reached the bottom of the dive line, I took my mask off and swam towards the iceberg. I held onto the glacier for what felt like minutes as time slowed down to a stop. Hearing the clicking of Daan Verhoeven’s camera taking photos reminded me that it was time to head back to the surface.

As soon as I surfaced, the cold sensation immediately returned, and I went back to the boat to warm up in an Everest Suit. I realized I completed what I set out to do, but I would need to do these 12 more times over the next few days to get all the footage we would need. None of this would have been possible without my incredible team: Luca Malaguti, Trainer and Owner of Sea to Sky freediving; Daan Verhoeven, underwater Director of Photography; Brian Hockenstein, aerial and land Director of Photography; Tim Emmett, Ice Climbing Operations and Safety; Vanessa Sierra, Safety Diver; and Captain Lars Anker-Møller, Arctic Director; and of course, my amazing family members & friends back home. Even my dad, David Adams, joined me on cold water swims in frozen lakes over the winter.

Our goal with this film is to empower men to talk about their mental health. To have an even larger impact on men's health, I challenge you to donate to my Movember fundraising efforts and share this article with your connections. Movember is the leading global charity focused solely on men's health. Movember raises funds and awareness for mental health and suicide prevention, prostate cancer, and testicular cancer.

To up the ante even further, I have partnered with a purpose-driven men’s fashion brand, Sheath Underwear, to dedicate an exclusive design of underwear to this film. Sheath will be donating 25% of all sales on this underwear line directly to my Mo Space, in an effort to support men’s mental health.

Overall, the project turned out even better than I could have imagined, with many thanks to the incredible support team around me. I experienced the same emotional journey as the character I was portraying, which I think will make the story that much more authentic. The journey started out with heightened anxiety and self-doubt and ended with me realizing how powerful my inner strength can be when paired with an urgent purpose.

If you or someone you know has been facing difficulties with mental health, please share this article and the film with anyone who can benefit from hearing this message. We hope that this film will finally bring the rarely discussed issue of men's mental health to the surface and inspire the audience to face their invisible battles with confidence - knowing that their inner resilience is much stronger than they think.

Stay tuned for the documentary premiere in September 2022 and support Luke’s efforts to raise funds and awareness for men’s mental health.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, or needs emotional support we urge you to head to for crisis support options. To speak with someone immediately, contact your local 24-hour support service.

Disclaimer: This stunt was performed by a trained professional with a fully trained and experienced support team. Please do not try this yourself.