“THE DEEPEST DIVE EVER – 332.35 meters for the deepest scuba dive (male) Guinness World Record set on 18/09/2014 in Dahab, Egypt, Red Sea by Ahmed Gabr”.
The World Record:
Scuba Seekers’ Instructors Sameh and Kim had the pleasure to support Ahmed Gabr in his World Record Deepest Scuba Dive. This event is the biggest news in the diving world in 2014. A great achievement for Ahmed himself, the Egyptian nation, Egyptian divers all over the Red Sea and particularly for Dahab.
Ahmed broke the record at a depth of 332.35 m (1,090 ft 4.5 in) in the Red Sea off the coast of Dahab, Egypt on 18th September 2014.
Sameh and Kim were very proud to be part of this significant event and making history in the world of diving.
Here is Kim’s account of the record:
I joined the record team later on in the preparation process in the early summer 2014. The team has organically grown with members being selected for both their diving skills and their out the water skills, ie logistic organizing, media, marketing, finances etc. The team is internationally based with members based in France, Cairo but most the team members were right here in Dahab.
I was asked to join as a mid-depth support diver for Ahmed. As a technical diver I love to calculate, plan and execute dives but the ‘deepest ever’ record attempt sounded a bit risky for my liking. Sameh was already a member of the World Record team and had taken part in the training dives. They needed more support divers in the mid depth region so he put my name forward. I agreed to join for the next training dive to see what I thought.
First Training Day
That day came and I met the whole team including Ahmed as we set out for a training day on the boat. The weather was challenging and on this day the team were testing the pyramid and the deco ladder deployment. On this day part of the team were based from the shore and the rest from the boat. The plan was to meet outside Dahab’s Blue Hole to test the system and conditions there. Plus there was a depth finder on the boat as they were still yet to determine the exact location where the record would take place. Though the dive itself was cancelled on that day due to the conditions, it was great opportunity to spend time with the team and see them all pulling together against the many different challenges they faced. I spoke a little to Ahmed. He was calm but determined about his goals. He was enthusiastic but in a very clear and concise way and he didn’t seem at all like the dare-devil I was expecting. I thought to myself… well if anyone could make this record, this man can, and I would be very happy to join the team and support this dive.
More training dives and lots of preparation followed and then suddenly D-day arrived.
18th September 2014
5am we arrived at Dahab jetty. The first boat was a little delayed leaving the jetty. I took this time to nap and a little bit of meditation/mental preparation. We followed out on the second support boat. I forget how many tanks exactly were aboard these two boats for Ahmed and all the support divers involved but both boats were full. The 600m line was dropped in location, the pyramid, the surface structure suspending the ascent/descent line was floating about 100m away from where the two dive boats circled. It was decorated with all the flags of the sponsors so it was easy to spot. The line had been measured and tested at the Cairo University and the Guinness adjudicator had authorized the depth tags on the line. As Ahmed prepared for his dive the atmosphere was calm and quiet, everyone was very focused.
Ahmed entered the water with Jamie and Sam, they were to assist him in the water until he was ready for his descent. Sea conditions weren’t ideal and there was a strong current in the mid water. Ahmed descended. The timers all started. From talking to Ahmed afterwards I understand he had a tough time getting down because of the current and had to physical pull himself down the line wearing the quad 20L tanks plus 3x15L stages. He had to descend quickly to get through the current and even burnt his hands on the rope in doing so. He slowed his descent around the 270-280m mark and from there he started to feel the effects of the HPNS (High Pressure Nervous Syndrome), which come from breathing Helium mixes at depth. He worked his way further down the line but felt he was nearing his limit. The goal had always been 350m but this was about making the record and returning back safely. He grabbed the 335m tag and turned to make his way back up.
At the surface we were all waiting. Jamie was the first support diver due to meet Ahmed and he had a system of coloured slates. Once he met Ahmed he would send up one of the slates to indicate Ahmed’s condition, if the record had been made and if any assistance was needed. The SMB was spotted and the slate collected. It was all good. Ahmed was with Jamie and he had broken the record, with the 335m tag. The energy was amazing. Hugs, kisses, and then game faces back on. We still had 13 hours to go.
I was to meet Ahmed at 45m as the 5th support diver on the rota. I was relieving Gaby and would be taken over by Dom. My descent was tricky as the current was still strong in the mid water. I had my twin set, one stage for me and three stages for Ahmed. My deco gas was waiting for me on the deco ladder. I met with Ahmed and Gaby left to start his ascent. Ahmed seemed as cool as a cucumber, in fact I was still a little overworked from my descent so when I first checked on him he actually signaled back to check on me. This made us both laugh. The first thing he wanted to know was had the record been confirmed, signaling with his hands a stamp sign. At this stage it hadn’t, so I tried to signal back it was still being confirmed. Then he asked again, so I said yes. I didn’t want to say anything to shift his focus so I figured this was the best option though inside I felt bad about confirming something I wasn’t certain of. Sometimes Ahmed would close his eyes as he focused on his breathing and keeping his body calm and chilled. We moved up the line to the 42m and then the 39m mark. Here we met Dom. The extra gas I had for Ahmed was now no longer needed as he was switching gasses at 39m. With some empty and some full tanks I moved up out of the way, slowly starting my ascent.
The current was still quite strong and the ascent and descent line was about 20-30 away from the deco ladder which started at 30m. As I looked across I knew it would be a lot of effort to swim all the way across in the current with all the extra stages. Above me were some stages left by the previous support divers, so I clipped my extra tanks here, these would be picked up by the shallow support team. Then I made my way across to the deco ladder and more importantly my deco gas. I stayed a little longer on my deco stops as I was concerned about the extra exertion in the conditions. I saw Frank, one of the shallow support divers adding more deco gas to the ladder. After putting the last tanks on the bottom of the ladder I saw him look out into the blue and spot all the tanks we had had to leave on the line. Like a tank angel he floated effortlessly over to the line. He managed to get all the tanks unclipped (approx. 9) and then ascended with them. I was feeling rather grateful and less guilty about leaving the stages now.
I exited the water happy with my dive but glad it was over. I had a few hours rest before my second dive. So I took some rest, fluids, rehydration salts and food. My next dive would be much easier but I still needed to get as much rest as possible.
Sameh was the 7th support diver meeting Ahmed and Dom at the 30m mark. He had the tough challenge of assisting Ahmed (plus 20L quads) as he moved from the ascent line to the deco ladder. Plus at this depth there is elevated risks of ICD (Isobaric Counter Diffusion) because Ahmed would be moving from a mix with a high concentration of helium to another mix with less helium. Sameh was also in the water as the team helped Ahmed to change his system from the big quad 20L tanks to the much smaller and more flexible X-Deep sidemount system. The motivation to change the systems was to reduce the level of fatigue of Ahmed which he would have felt wearing the quads for the total length of the dive. The move went very smoothly and the quads were taken up and out the water by the support team.
Sameh dive was also very smooth and the current continued to subside. On Sameh’s deco stop Didier, the official videography for the record, was also there doing his deco, so they kept each other company and Sameh got a short lesson in how to drive Didier’s big-ass camera. Sameh’s first dive was meant to be 110min but he was actually in the water a little longer, around the 130min mark.
Conditions had calmed down substantially as I prepared for my second dive. The deco ladder had been towed to and attached to the two support boats so now all we had to do to enter was to jump in right out the back of the boats. As I was getting ready I heard some people shout there was a small shark in the water. It turned out to be a baby white tip oceanic shark. It started circling around the boats and the deco ladder below. Didier got back in the water to get some shots of the shark with Ahmed.
It was already dark when I entered the water for my second dive. There was enough light from the surface, glow sticks attached to the ladder and torches of the divers but still there was something very exciting about jumping into the water when you are moored up in the middle of the blue, in the middle of the night with a shark circling. I saw Ahmed and Gaby below, we were all on our second dive with Ahmed. I met them at the 6m bar. They had just moved up from the 9m bar. Whilst I stayed with Ahmed, Gaby shifted up the food and drink bags from the 9m bar then Gaby took the empty tank, waved goodbye to Ahmed and I and left.
The little shark was darting in and out. It was interested in the lights and the activity in the water. At one stage my torch lit up a jellyfish in the water. The shark darted in quickly and devoured it. That was cool.
Ahmed was in good spirits, though a bit cold and we continued watching the shark whilst we carefully monitored the elapsed time. Ahmed was breathing two different gases at this stage. His main gas he would breathe for 15 min and then he would have a gas break with another gas for 5 min. Divers use this method when they have long deco to help them to off-gas more efficiently.
The surface current was picking up again. We were starting to feels its effects on the ladder. Sometimes we were blown over to one side and then back to the other. Dom had joined us now and we had a crossover of time together with Ahmed. This was perfectly timed as one of us could stay with Ahmed and the other could move or rotate the finished tanks and keep the food and drink bags from flying around too much. We tried to move up to the 3m bar but the current was so strong now and the waves close to the surface meant it was impossible to be comfortable at 3m. This would be counterproductive for the deco so we moved back down to 6m.
After 84 min my dive was finished. I left Ahmed with Dom and took all the empties with me and surfaced. I was confused when I first came up as there was only one boat and not two. Due to the surface conditions worsening the other boat had had to detach and move away. I exited the water and everyone wanted to know how Ahmed was. I explained about the conditions in the water but they all knew anyway. You could lean over the back of the boat and see the divers and the lights just below. He was doing well, a bit cold but very well, all considered.
I could see Sameh and Khaled preparing on the other boat for their final dive. They got into the Zodiac to bring them over to the deco ladder. They jumped in the water and shortly after Dom surfaced. Sameh and Khaled stayed with Ahmed for the rest of his dive. The conditions were getting worse and worse. Below the surface Sameh and Khaled were trying to help to position and keep hold of Ahmed to help relieve the effects of the current. Their second dive was 90 min and as they were preparing to surface everyone was counting down. Ahmed, Sameh and Khaled all surfaced together. All the spectators, crew and support staff on all the boats had been asked to keep quiet until all the checks of Ahmed had been completed. There were four boats in total, the two boats for the support divers plus two more boats with family, friends and supporters.
On the surface Khaled and Sameh removed Ahmed’s fins but before they could remove the last tank from Ahmed’s sidemount system Ahmed was already climbing the ladder with the tank still attached. Sam and Jamie assisted Ahmed onto the deck of the boat and the doctors started their checks. A minute or so passed. Then Ahmed stood again, waved and saluted to all four boats. Everyone went crazy, cheering, whistling, hugging each other. His condition was better than anyone could have hoped for. He took a short break to freshen up and then came back up to the deck. He shook hands and thanked every member of his support team, the boat crew, the medics and the sponsors. The Guinness adjudicator was bought over from the other boat to present Ahmed with his official certificate.
As we made our way back to the Dahab jetty we started to hear the noise of boat horns. All the other boats were back in the dock now and our boat was the last one to enter. They were welcoming Ahmed and the team back to shore. It was amazing. As we approached the jetty you could see it was full of people. There was not a spare inch. Fireworks were going off and everyone was cheering and chanting Ahmed’s name. As we docked two boys were helped onto our boat and they quickly made their way to Ahmed. It was his son and his nephew. It was an emotional reunion.
I remember feeling a massive mix of emotions; relief, pride in the team and in Ahmed, tiredness and just pure damn ecstatic happiness. What an amazing day 🙂
Thank you to everyone involved in the World Record for being part of such an amazing team.
Thank you to Laura Dinraths for used of the photos in this post.