World record-breaking scuba dives: who has gone the deepest, spent the most time underwater, done it with more people and a stack of other scuba diving world records
The deepest dive
The world’s deepest dive on open circuit scuba stands at 332.35m (1,090ft). It was undertaken by Ahmed Gabr in Dahab in the Red Sea on 18/19 September 2014 after nearly a decade of preparation. The descent took only 15 minutes while the ascent lasted 13 hours 35 minutes. Ahmed was helped by a 30-strong support team, including nine divers as well as technicians, medical staff, and media representatives.
The record had previously been held by South Africa’s Nuno Gomes with a 2005 dive to 318.25m (1,044ft) also at Dahab. He still holds the official world record for the deepest cave dive after diving to a depth of 282m (927ft) in the Boemansgat cave in South Africa in 1996.
The same cave was the scene for the deepest scuba dive by a female set in 2004 when Verna van Schaik dived down to 221m (725ft).
The world record longest scuba dive
On 20 July 2016, Turkish diver Cem Karabay obliterated his own scuba diving world 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.
Jerry Hall from the United States remained on an underwater platform in Watauga Lake, Tennessee for 120 hours, 1 minute and 9 seconds in 2004 which earned him the record of the longest open freshwater scuba dive.
The highest dive
The record for the highest altitude scuba dive is held by Erno Tósoki, a Hungarian scuba diver and mountaineer. This feat was achieved on 21 February 2016 at Ojos Del Salado, the tallest volcano on Earth, located on the Argentina-Chile border. Tósoki dived a permanent lake on the east side of the volcano, located at 6,382m above sea level, putting him as the first person to ever dive above 6,000m.
The dive only lasted for 10 minutes at a mere 2m due to the strenuous and unknown effects diving at this altitude could have on a person. After five years of preparation and two attempts already under his belt, Tósoki achieved this feat with only one team member supporting him.
This is one record that will be difficult to surpass, as there is no known lake on Earth higher than Ojos Del Salado.
The longest chain
Going back to normal altitudes now for the biggest underwater human chain, a record that was set on 17 June 2017 in Florida. Dixie Divers organised the event that saw 240 scuba divers plunge into the Florida waters off the coast of Deerfield Beach.
The two-day event started as an underwater clean-up to clear fishing nets and other waste from the popular diving and fishing spot. The uninterrupted chain required all divers to link arms or hold hands around the pier, beneath a series of buoys. The Florida divers easily surpassed the previous holders of this record, a group of 182 divers off the coast of Thailand, set in 2016.
The largest group dive
Another group record, this time for the largest amount of divers submerged at once. This record was broken by an event organised by the Indonesian Navy back in 2009, which saw 2,486 divers dive simultaneously. Divers were split into groups of 50 and waited in line until they could submerge to the target depth of 15m. The divers who participated in this event was more than double the amount of the previous record, set in the Maldives in 2006 when 958 divers took part in a group dive.
Deepest closed-circuit dive
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, during 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.
The three highest UK lakes in 24 hours
The Three Lakes Challenge is a record in which divers attempt to dive the highest three lakes of the UK within a 24 hour period. Challengers must carry a full set of dive gear, without assistance to and from each of the lakes before making the dive. Kenny Munro, Matt Buckley and Rob Pozzi a team from Burghead Sub-Aqua Club (Burgsac) completed the dive in a time of 20 hours and 36 minutes, beating previous record-holders Monty Hall and Andy Torbet by more than 2 hours.
They began the challenge at the highest lake, Loch Coire an Lochan, which lies 996m up the northwestern slope of Breariach in the Cairngorms, the UK’s third-highest peak. This took them 6 hours and 38 minutes before driving to the UK’s third highest mountain, Red Tarn, sitting 718m high. Lastly, they finished the challenge off at Ffynnon Lloer, located at an altitude of 650m within the Carneddau mountain range of Snowdonia, North Wales.
Fastest 10km scuba diving world record
The record for the fastest 10km scuba dive is held by Faisal Jawad Hassan. What makes the record particularly significant is that the 33-year-old Kuwaiti is paraplegic, having lost the use of his legs in a car accident when he was 20. His record time for the 10km was 5 hours and 24 minutes, beating the previous record of 6 hours 21 minutes – which was set by an able-bodied diver. Faisal started scuba diving to assist with his recovery after the accident. ‘After the car accidents I had, the first thing I did was challenging my fears,’ said Hassan. ‘I chose to learn how to dive. After I dove I felt that I am free under the water,’ he said. ‘Diving can set me free from sadness and hopelessness and made feel free.’
Deepest no-limits freedive
There are several disciplines in the freediving world, depending on what type of weight configuration they use, whether 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.
World record scuba dive for underwater juggling
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.