September 18th 2014 is a big day for Dahab and the competitive world of scuba diving. Ahmed Gabr, an Egyptian ex-army officer will attempt to not only break the current Guinness World Record for open circuit scuba diving – he intends to smash it.
Ahmed has been training hard at H2O divers in Dahab and along with an excellent support team of many friends and long term Dahabians, Ahmed intends to safely reach and ascent from a depth of 350 metres. We wish Ahmed and all the guys at Team #worldrecord350 the very best of luck in this amazing record attempt.
Nunu Gomes from South Africa holds the current world record for the deepest dive in the world, this dive of 318.25m was also made in Dahab in June 2005. Dahab and in particular the Blue Hole provides some of the world’s best deep diving conditions, crystal clear warm water with depths easily reached only a few metres from shore. Pascale Bernabéa a French scuba diver claims to have dived to 330m off the coast of Corsica on 5 July 2005. This deep dive would have broken the current record held by Nunu Gomes however it was not verified by the Guinness world record team due to insufficient evidence.
Scuba diving to such depths requires not only strength, determination and courage it requires a precision of scientific planning that must be second to none. On deep dives every metre of depth and every second of time is vital in the planning and execution of the dive. Using different blends of trimix, which is a mixture of oxygen, helium and nitrogen the deep diver is able to breathe the optimum gas mix at each depth. The novice scuba diver will have learned that at around 30m underwater the nitrogen in the air we breathe in a normal tank of compressed air can cause nitrogen narcosis. Nitrogen narcosis impairs your judgement in the same way that alcohol and other drugs can. Divers suffering from nitrogen narcosis can act foolishly in the water and are unable to concentrate on simple tasks. Oxygen under pressure also has hugely negative effects on the human body. Oxygen toxicity, if it occurs is fatal; it causes the diver to convulse uncontrollably and drowning will follow. Breathing normal compressed air with 21% oxygen, the risk of oxygen toxicity can occur at 66 metres which is outside of the realms of recreational scuba diving; however as dive instructors it is one of the most important things we teach even our most inexperienced students. So the effect of gases under pressure play the most important role in dive planning, it is why you simply can’t jump in the water and descend to any depth you wish and it is why planning a dive to 350m has taken months and months of meticulous planning and practice dives. Ahmed will be underwater for an estimated 14.5 hours, he and his team will breathe more than 90 cylinders of various gas mixes with the helium alone costing thousands of Euro.
I for one will be waiting anxiously above water on Thursday 18 September waiting for news of Ahmeds safe return from the depths. Sadly this time I will not be in Dahab like I was on 10 June 2005 when Nunu Gomes set the benchmark.
For further information on this amazing endeavour please take a look at the official #worldrecord350 webpage for photos, fundraising and up to date information.