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You may think that these are photos of a mannequin, dunked in an indoor pool or some brilliant photoshopping stunt.

However, these are actual photos of two-time free diving world champion, Natalia Avseenko, in the freezing waters of Orda Cave in Russia. On the day of the photo-shoot, the temperature on land was a bone-chilling -32.8 degrees Fahrenheit (-36 Celcius) and the water was 41 degrees Fahrenheit (5 Fahrenheit).

Orda Cave, located in Perm, Russia, is the largest underwater gypsum cave in the world. The cave was formed millions of years ago, long before humans were stalking the planet. It is 50,000 kilometers deep and the water within the cavern reaches 200 meters down. Because of the icy, clear blue water and gypsum walls, the cave has earned the nickname, “Crystal Cave.”

Locals tell stories of the Mistress of the Orda, a folkloric spirit that is said to protect divers who venture into the depths of the frigid cave. With these stories in mind, Avseenko channeled her inner Mistress of the Orda to produce these stirring photos.

Avseenko has even swam in the 35 degree Fahrenheit (1.5 Celsius) Arctic Ocean stark naked in order to swim amongst beluga whales in their natural environment. It’s amazing what lengths she’ll go to in order to achieve her goals. We’re excited to see what new adventure Avseenko gets herself in to and what magnificent pictures will transpire as a result.

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▼  Before the photo-shoot. The temperature outside was -32.8 degrees Fahrenheit (-36 Celcius).

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▼  Watch Natalia Avseenko in action.

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