Freediving the Bruce Peninsula

Photo: Lilly, Sarah and Andrew Ryzebol presented at the November BPEG meeting.

BPEG Welcomes Ryzebols at November Meeting 

Submitted by Joanne Rodgers

On November 1, 2023 BPEG welcomed Lion’s Head residents Lilly, Sarah and Andrew Ryzebol to their monthly meeting. Presenting to a full venue, the community came out to hear about Lilly and Andrew’s unique perspective on and below the waters of Georgian Bay and Lake Huron.

The couple describes freediving as a cross between snorkeling and scuba diving but without the air tanks. Andrew can hold his breath for 7.5 minutes under water and Lilly for 4.5 minutes. While the Ryzebols freedive all year round, they mostly talked about their winter experiences, diving under the ice and skating on the ice. 

They started the presentation by showing why they loved freediving, by sharing their award winning GoPro video. The video shows the beauty of the winterscape both above and below Lake Huron.

To see the video and more of their adventures, please check out their YouTube Channel:

While they say they are not climate scientists, they do spend a lot of their time studying the ice and water conditions of Lake Huron, so that they can ensure their safety as they participate in their activities.

The Ryzebols shared the ice coverage maps and surface water temperatures charts over the past 50 years. Talking about their own experiences as ice divers since 2014, they have seen “good” ice years and not so good ones. While there has been some great ice coverage especially in 2014 and 2015, there is definitely a downtrend of ice coverage on all the Great Lakes. They say the ice season is being compressed, the Lakes freeze later and the ice leaves earlier. Most years are now below average regarding ice coverage, At the same time, the water surface temperatures of the Great Lakes are rising. 

Both Lilly and Andrew say they focus their efforts on what they can do. They have collaborated with Canadian visual artist Noelle Hamlyn in a ROM exhibition “to draw attention to the current environmental crisis in the textiles and fashion industries. Each life jacket (or “lifer”) tells a unique story, encouraging us to take a closer look at our own fashion consumption behaviours, and how they have the power to affect the health of water resources worldwide.”

The duo, with their diver friends, also remove garbage from the Lake floor. They are seeing an increase in Lake trash: size and density of plastic materials, construction waste, cigarette butts, poop bags and items off boats. 

They are strong proponents of Reduce. Reuse. Recycle, as a way to reduce trash. They categorize trash as intentional and unintentional, things people intentionally toss into the water and other garbage left unsecured that makes its way into the waters.

They wish to remind property owners and visitors to secure their garbage, tie down things that may fall off trucks on the way to the dump or yard ornaments that blow away, latch their garbage bins, secure items on their boats that may come loose and remove items on their shoreline that could be blown out unto the Lakes in a storm.