Culture / Society

Explorer Annelie Pompe has climbed Everest, but diving in Sweden has been her greatest adventure

By Rosamund Urwin
female diver sweden diving scuba snorkeling

Photo: Magnus Lundborg

Swede Annelie Pompe is an adventurer and helicopter pilot who has climbed the highest mountains on every continent, but her greatest joy is freediving – and finding total calm in the depths

When Annelie Pompe is deep underwater, she feels as though the ocean is giving her “a big hug.” The Swedish adventurer and athlete, who once broke a freediving world record when she plunged 126m under the surface, finds the depths a place of total tranquility. “I have never been anywhere more silent,” she says. “There’s just a feeling of pressure. It is so still down there, and the body and mind are so calm.”


When she does deep freediving – following a line straight down towards the bottom of the sea – her eyes stay closed. “You have to focus inwards,” she explains. “The biggest misconception people have is that it’s an extreme sport – it’s more a calm sport, because if you are full of adrenaline, you are going to fail.”

The coastline of Smögen, near Pompe's home.

Photo: Magnus Lundborg

The 40-year-old, who is also a mountaineer and helicopter pilot, did not set out to become a professional adventurer: “It just happened because I became really good at what I loved to do.” She grew up on the west coast of Sweden, outside Gothenburg, with parents who loved skiing and hiking, and she competed in rock climbing from the age of 13. Being outdoors was “just normal.” Her father, a diver, took her snorkelling with him too. “I was actually a terrible swimmer when I was young,” she laughs.