The warm and crystalline waters of the Red Sea that bathe the south of the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula have once again become witnesses of a new world record. On this occasion, a local has broken the record for the longest dive on record, after having spent seven meters under the sea the chilling time of 145 hours and 30 minutes.
The adventure of Saddam Killany, a 32-year-old Egyptian born in Ismailia, a city in the middle of the Suez Canal, started on Thursday, November 5 and had the idyllic city of Dahab as its setting, once a fishing village and today the main destination for most backpackers who land on the peaceful shores of South Sinai .
“The plan was to do 150 hours, but the reason we took [a Killany] of the water before that mark was that once he broke the record, at 142 hours, the 150 hour would have been at night, and we did not want to take him out of the water then ”, Nada Khaled, project director, explains to EL PAÍS The longest dive in the world. “We agreed on that, the doctors agreed, we asked their opinion and then we agreed to leave,” he recalls.
During his long dive, which the Egyptian had been preparing for for seven years, Killany used, on average, one bottle of compressed air every 90 minutes. To sustain himself, the Egyptian only ingested liquid food, such as smoothies, which were supplied to him in special pressure cups that the diver opened once he placed them in his mouth after momentarily removing the regulator to breathe.
“To sleep, we create a bed made of metal and ropes. What he did was get under the bed and take off his belt with the weights that kept him underwater, ”says Khaled. “Then gravity would raise him, and he just had to put his hands and legs on the ropes and wear a mask that covers his entire face and is connected to a cylinder that provides him with air all the time and through which he can breathe. normal. You can sleep normally, but since you are in a strange condition, you slept four or five hours maximum, “he adds.
To pass the time, Killany set out to break a second world record, that of the greatest painting ever made under water, to which he devoted much of his time. In addition, the Egyptian also had a bicycle to train his muscles, weights to lift and even chess pieces made of marble and granite to distract himself.
At his side, Killany had a team made up of 25 other divers who alternated so that there would always be someone with him. In addition, there was also a second team of five medical technicians to follow him, experts in free diving to bring him what he needed as quickly as possible, and others on the surface of the water controlling that no one sneaked into the area where he was. From firm ground, a last team recorded the entire feat and broadcast it from the place live.
“We had never exceeded 100 hours, so everything we did after that mark was very new to us, and that was the [principal] challenge, ”says Khaled. “Before 100 hours everything was perfect, and even afterwards as well, but since we didn’t know what was going to happen we were more expectant,” he recalls.
When Killany finally came out of the water, a crowd gathered to greet him. “There were a lot of people,” explains to EL PAÍS Mohamed Gamal, co-founder of Vórtex, the company that was in charge of recording the entire dive in order to present it to the Guinness record. “Everyone in Dahab knew about the event and knew Saddam, so people were making regular visits to the place asking about him, how he was doing and watching him live on the screens,” Gamal says, recalling that “when people knew the time I was going to leave [del agua], they all went to see him ”.
In recent years, Dahab has built its reputation as one of the world references for water sports, especially sailing, and other activities such as scuba diving and snorkelling. Among its most popular places for diving is the so-called blue hole, known as the most dangerous place in the world for diving.
Before Killany, at least three other Egyptians claimed to have broken other records. The first was the diver Ahmed Gabr, who in 2014 beat the Guinness record for the deepest dive, after reaching 332 meters. Four years later, 14-year-old diver Reem Ashraf would have converted in the woman who made the longest immersion in salt water, after spending 56 hours under the sea. And this same 2020, a fourth diver, Wala Hafez, surpassed the mark for the longest water immersion of a person with chronic quadriplegia after five hours underwater, according to local media.
Now, the Egyptian will still have to wait for his brand to be accepted by the Guinness of records, who will be sent a copy of the complete recording of the feat so that they can corroborate it. Hassan Ibrahim, director of public relations for the compilation of feats in the Middle East and North Africa, confirms that Killiany has made the request related to the “longest dive in salt water for men”, and notes that the company is waiting to receive testing to start the verification process.
Going forward, Killany’s team has plans to put their quest for records on hold and focus their efforts on preserving the setting that has brought them so much joy. “We are trying to raise awareness about environmental problems in the Red Sea, where there is a lot of garbage, which is a shame because it is one of the most beautiful places on the planet. So our purpose now is to focus more on the environmental side of diving, ”anticipates Khaled.
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