South African Sets World Scuba Diving Depth Record, the first place to look for a dive instructor

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Posted by on June 13, 2005 at 15:52:45:

June 13, 2005 On June 10, Nuno Gomes, a 52-year-old civil engineer from South Africa, descended to a depth of 1,044 feet in the Red Sea, deeper than any scuba diver has ever gone before, according to reports by the Cyber Diver News Network and South African newspapers.

“That’s getting way down there,” said Hal Watts, president of the Professional Scuba Association International. “Even for a professional diver that is really, really deep.”

The previous depth record was held by British dive instructor Mark Ellyatt, who reached 1,026 feet off the coast of Thailand in 2003.

Gomes could not be reached for comment.

Deep water scuba diving is a dangerous sport practiced by a small group of technical divers. Only seven divers have ever been below 820 feet—fewer than have walked on the moon.

Breathing a special mix of oxygen, nitrogen, and helium known as trimix, divers endure crushing pressure and marathon decompression periods to prevent the buildup of dangerous gases in the body.

“Record scuba diving is like mountain climbing or speed racing. These are people who want to go to the limits,” Watts said. “The deeper you go, if an accident occurs, you just can’t run back up.”

Rising to the surface too fast causes bubbles to form in the bloodstream, leading to a potentially fatal condition known as decompression sickness, or “the bends.”

It took Gomes just 20 minutes to reach his ultimate depth, but the slow rise to the surface took 12 hours because of the decompression stops he had to make.

It was his second attempt at reclaiming the record, which he’d previously held from 1996 to 2001. According to The Mercury, a South African newspapertk, last July Gomes reached 889 feet but had to abort the descent due to equipment failure.

Gomes also holds the record for the deepest cave dive, reaching the bottom of South Africa’s 927-foot Boesmansgat Cave in 1996, also known as Bushman’s Hole. Gomes nearly failed to return to the surface after getting stuck in the silt at the bottom.

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