Martin Helseth: The medal diver from the Rotsee

Timon Wernas Allgemein, Articles

During the LUCERNE REGATTA 2023 on the Rotsee, a gold medalist accidentally drops her award into the Rotsee waters. As is customary in rowing circles, help promptly arrives.

Rare as it may be, occasionally something is lost during the journey from the winner’s dock to the exit pontoon, such as a gold medal. This is what happened to Bente Paulis of the Dutch quadruple scull winning boat at the LUCERNE REGATTA 2023.

Someone had to be found to take on the search for the precious metal by diving. Mark Emke, the Dutch coach serving the Norwegian national team, upon hearing of the mishap, immediately knew what to do. A phone call to his protégé from the quadruple sculls, Martin Helseth, was enough. If you can cut a good figure on the water, you may also be able to do so in the water. As a passionate freediver, this also applies to the 29-year-old Norwegian.

But let’s allow Martin Helseth himself to recount the events: « I was enjoying lunch after finishing our final race when our head coach, Mark Emke, called me.
He informed me that Bente Paulis had lost her gold medal while celebrating at the pontoon in the boat park after winning the women’s quad A-final.
Mark had told them that I was on the case, and it put a bit of pressure on me to put it mildly. I did not want to leave Bente Paulis empty handed after such a great accomplishment. »

However, the conditions for a successful dive were less than ideal, as Martin Helseth explained further: «I hadn’t brought my diving mask to Switzerland and had to put my contact lenses in a plastic bag filled with water, which was intended for the disposal of dog feces. I had no idea how deep the lake was at the point where the medal was supposed to be, so I jumped in and started swimming downwards with my eyes nearly closed. Eventually reaching a depth of 8 meters, I spotted something blue on the lakebed. It was in fact the gold medal! I grabbed it and headed towards the light again. Bente was overjoyed! »

On another note, Martin Helseth will return to the Rotsee this year and take part in the Lucerne qualifying regatta, aiming to secure a spot for the Olympic Games in Paris. True to his word at the LUCERNE REGATTA, he remarked, «From now on, I will always bring my diving mask to rowing regattas. »

«I am not only a rower, but also a passionate freediver. Being a freediver means that I put on a wetsuit, a mask, a snorkel, a weight belt and some fins and swim underwater with a single breath. I regularly organize underwater clean-ups, offer freediving courses, enjoy spearfishing, and do a bit of competitive freediving, with my personal best being a 40m dive on a vertical rope. Through our clean-up initiatives, we have removed almost 40 tons of rubbish since 2020! From time to time, I am contacted by frustrated people asking me to find things they have lost in the sea. These are usually phones, jewellery, sunglasses, and the like. »