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23 Nov, 2013 07:27

Sochi-2014 Olympic torch dives into history at Lake Baikal (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

The Olympic torch’s odyssey around Russia reached new depths as it dived into the world’s biggest freshwater lake, Lake Baikal in Siberia. Divers took the burning torch to the bottom of the lake – another first for the Olympic relay.

The Sochi-2014 Olympic torch has been to several unusual places no Olympic flame has been before. It has been in space, visiting the ISS, the North Pole and now Lake Baikal, arguably Russia’s most famous natural landmark.

Russian TV anchor Ekaterina Andreeva and vice-president of Russia’s Olympic Committee Aleksandr Vronsky, accompanied by 26-year-old professional diver Nikolay Rybachenko, emergency rescuer and a former underwater swimmer scout for Russia’s Pacific Fleet, dived 15 meters down into Lake Baikal with three special torches that can burn underwater at a temperature of 2,000 degrees Celsius.

Still from RT video

When they emerged from the depths of the lake, they passed one of the torches to a mysterious “birdman of Baikal,” RT’s James Brown reports, who took the Olympic flame back to the shore.

The ceremony resembled the “performance of a divine service,” Rybachenko told ITAR-TASS earlier.

“Baikal is a sacred lake, with exceptional energy, purity and beauty,” he said. “The two elements coming together will give courage to Russian sportsmen.”

The surface temperature at Lake Baikal is unseasonably warm, at about zero degrees Celsius, and due to the unusually warm November weather the water is 10 degrees Celsius, so despite the occasional wind gusts with snow, the dive has been relatively comfortable.

Still from RT video

The ceremony took place near the place where the Angara River starts from Lake Baikal, not far from the shore, where the depth is only 50 meters.

With a recorded maximum depth of 1,600 meters, Baikal is the deepest lake on the planet, but its real depth is still not verified for sure. The deposits that have accumulated on the lakebed over 25 million years are estimated to be over 8 kilometers thick.

Still from RT video