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Scuba Diving World Record Holders

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Support divers with Ahmed Gabr's empty stage tanks (Photo: Laura Dinraths/Shutterstock)

Whatever activity they choose to do, there are always a group of tough individuals who want to push the limits of human endurance, and scuba diving is no exception. Advances in technology may have helped, but diving still comes with its own unique set of challenges, where even breathing the air that keeps us alive at the surface can lead to potential disaster. Not all diving records are especially perilous, however, so here's a roundup of some of the most challenging - and bizarre world records set over the years

Deepest Dive (Open Circuit)

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Ahmed Gabr prepares for his world record-breaking dive

Egyptian dive instructor Ahmed Gabr holds the world record for open circuit scuba, diving to a depth of 332.35m/1,090ft in Dahab, Egypt on 18 September 2014, breaking the previous record of 318.25m/1,044ft set by South African Nuno Gomes in 2005, also in Dahab. Although it took only 12 minutes to reach his maximum depth, Gabr spent 15 hours decompressing on his way back to the surface. The ladies' world record holder is Verna van Schaik of South Africa, who dived to 221m/725ft on 25 October 2005 in the Boesmansgat cave of South Africa's Northern Province. 


Deepest Dive (Rebreather)

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Will Goodman preparing for a tech dive in Gili Trawangan (Photo by Alfred Minnaar)

Rebreather diving comes with its own particular set of challenges, and the world record deep dive on a closed circuit rebreather was set by instructor Will Goodman of Blue Marlin Dive Tech, based on Gili Trawangan, Indonesia on 26 March 2014. Will and his JJ-CCR reached a depth of 290m after a 9-minute freefall, at which all his computers froze. His actual – but unrecorded – depth is estimated to be a shade over 300m. The dive in total took 9h and 57m but is unfortunately not officially recognised by the Guinness Book of World Records. Will was also at one point the holder of the world record for longest dive underwater. The ladies' CCR record is held by American Kimberly Inge, who reached 198.73m (632ft) at Lighthouse Point, Grand Cayman, on 30 May 2012. The total dive time on her rEvo CCR was 6h 2m


Longest Dive


On 20 July 2016, Turkish diver Cem Karabay obliterated his own record of 71 hours spent underwater by doubling it to 142 hours, 42 minutes and 42 seconds at Yavuz Çıkarma Beach, Cyprus – a total of almost six days spent underwater in open water. Cem also holds the record for the longest time spent underwater in a controlled environment – 192 hours, 19 minutes and 19 seconds submerged in a pool in Istanbul in 2011. He helped to pass the time during the dives by playing chess and football with his support team. The women's record is held by Cristie Quill of the USA, who spent 51 hours and 25 minutes underwater at La Jolla Shores, San Diego, in aid of the 'Put Cancer Under Pressure' campaign


Most People Scuba Diving Simultaneously

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The record for the largest group of people to dive simultaneously is held by the Indonesian Navy, during which 2,486 people, both civilian and navy, dived together at Malalayang beach, Manado, Indonesia on 17 August 2009. The dive was part of a celebration to mark the 64th anniversary of Indonesian independence. Divers were separated into 50 groups at a maximum depth of 15m where an Indonesian flag was raised before the group prayed together before surfacing. The world record for most divers simultaneously taking part in a scuba diving class was, unsurprisingly, set the day before, with 2,465 people taking part in a basic scuba diving lesson.

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2,486 people all diving together in the same place at the same time...


Deepest No-Limits Freedive

There are several disciplines in the freediving world, dependent on what type of weight configuration they use, or whether or not they dive under their own propulsion, or with or without fins. The most 'extreme' version of freediving is 'no limits' whereby the freediver can choose any mode of locomotion - typically a weighted sled to descend and an inflatable balloon to ascend. The record for deepest no-limit freediving is 214m (702ft), held by Austrian world champion Herbert Nitsch, who set the record on 14 June 2007 in Spetses, Greece. The ladies' no-limit freediving record is held by Tanya Streeter of the USA, who reached 160m (525ft) on 17 August 2002 - an outright world record at the time for both men and women. Freediving requires the diver to hold their breath for a considerable amount of time, and both of these records took over 3 minutes underwater. The world record for 'static apnoea', however - ie holding one's breath underwater without moving - is held by Stephane Mifsud of France, who held his breath for an incredible 11 minutes and 35 seconds in June 2009.


Longest Underwater Juggling

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Markus in a still image from the 100 Minute Man (justnonstop/YouTube)

Possibly the silliest of world scuba diving records, but also probably the most fun, Markus Just of Germany, a 'comedian, clown and fire artist' holds the record for 'longest duration juggling of three objects underwater'. He juggled for 1 hour and 40 minutes at the Freizeit Messe (Leisure Show) in Nuremberg on 3 March 2013 – earning him the nickname 'The 100-Minute Man'. Markus also holds the record for the longest underwater duration of juggling by apnoea, with a time of 3 minutes and 32 seconds. The video below was inspired by Guillaume Néry's 'FreeFall' freediving video.





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