Stephen Weir Writes a Story so that he can get a Guinness Book of World Records' Listing (most scuba record stories by a writer in an attic on a Mac)


.... For writing about the things that divers do to get publicity for their causes (and themselves). PART ONE

How to generate press for a non-event? Set a world’s record. Build the world’s first or the world’s biggest. Do something that no one has done before, or set a record for doing it over and over again. Hold your breath. Hold all your neighbours' toes. You can even make the world’s smelliest Taleggio (stinky cheese) and attract reporters willing to take a sniff.
No one knows this better than scuba and skin divers. There is a certain amount of implied danger in anything you do underwater and as result the media sits up and takes note when there is a potential underwater accident. Hold your breath for 10 minutes and no one will care. Do it underwater? CNN will be knocking on your door. Play bad billiards in the rec room and no one, not even your family will watch. Do it underwater? Headline news.
No matter how obscure your record is, announcing it generates publicity in print, on the airwaves and on the web. Record attempts, no matter how silly, outdraw important medical announcements, scholarly reports, art gallery openings and just about anything else that really matters … but isn’t news. The Guinness Book of World’s Record is the Bible of firsts and records. The privately owned publisher put out its first volume in 1955 and the annually updated book is now available in over 100 countries, with over 3 million copies sold each year. Many record seekers have a goal of making it onto Guinness’ record log, others are happy simply declaring that they have set or tried to set a record.
One of the hardest categories in the many subsets of underwater records involves the sport of free diving. There are many different associations that claim world records, based on different criteria on how a free-diver conducts the dive. There are Constant Weight, Free Immersion and constant weight without fins competitions. As well there are records for people with monofins and records for standard fins. It is confusing, and, the records recorded in this article just scratch the surface on milestones made in the past 24-months.
I have been writing on a casual basis about underwater records for Diver Magazine, and this website. A colleague of mine at Diver Magazine,Quebec based diver/explorer/film maker/ record keeper Jeffrey Gallant, has set up a website to keep track of the many underwater records set – some are Guinness records, others are simply proclaimed by individuals (who may have had a record amount of Guinness).!/pages/Drummondville-QC/The-Diving-Almanac-Book-of-Records/303917838845?ref=ss
Since I last wrote about underwater record attempts in 2008 I have received emails and clippings about over 30 new underwater feats of daring and foolishness including in no particular order:

Record: Guinness: Inaugural 'Longest open, cold saltwater SCUBA dive'. Pending

Details: Irish brothers, Declan and Paul Devane raised over €35,000.00 euros, for the St Raphael’s Children Ward at Beaumont Hospital, Dublin, Ireland for staying underwater in the cold waters off the west coast of Galway, Ireland on October 10th, 2009. The brothers were doing this in memory of Declan Devane’s two-year-old son, Cillian, who died in February ‘09. They had hoped to stay underwater for 40 hours without surfacing (not even for pee breaks). According to their website, Paul Devane had to withdraw due to a malfunction of his diving p-valve. Declan Devane withdrew after 12 hours, when hypothermia set in. Guinness told the divers they would have to stay underwater for at least 24 hours to earn the inaugural award. The Devanes have suggested to Guinness that it is unrealistic to demand the same 24-hour qualifying limit for a coldwater record. Guinness is considering their request of a 12- hour inaugural record.

Record: First Underwater Santa Claus to listen to Christmas wishes from gamblers! Self Proclaimed.

Details: Silverton Casino Lodge in Las Vegas has an 117,000-gallon reef aquarium complete with 4,000 tropical fish, and three species each of stingrays, sharks and swimming mermaids. During the Christmas season in 2008 the aquarium also had a scuba diving Santa and a submerged throne. Scuba Santa had an underwater communication mask which allowed him to talk to gamblers about what they wanted for Christmas (eg – “ A Royal Flush please”). The Silverton breath-holding mermaids were Claus’ special helpers. According to the Hotel, Underwater Santa took breaks every 30 minutes to get out of the water and “feed the reindeer.”

Record: World’s largest mass dive. Guinness

Details: In 2009 an Indonesian admiral and, reportedly, an official from the Guinness World Records watched as 2,562 divers went into the seas off North Sulawesa and stayed underwater long enough to breathe for a few minutes off their scuba tanks. The record event marked Indonesia’s Independence Day. According to the Jakarta Times the dive broke the previous record of 958 scuba divers set in the Maldives in 2006.

Record: World’s largest number of divers sharing air underwater at the same time. Pending

Details: Members of the 40-year old Bingham Sub Aqua Club in England spent the winter practicing in the local pool to make the attempt. It hasn’t happened yet. The club wants to do it to mark the 40th anniversary of their club and to “raise money for charity”.

Record: Youngest person to become a “master diver”. Company Record.

Top: Underwater Casino Santa. Photo Liza Bishton - Flickr.
Second from top: Left to right, Paul Devane, Declan Devane and in-water dive co-ordinator Gary Jennings. The trio attempted the longest coldwater world record dive at ScubaDive West, Killary, Co Galway, Ireland. Photo Irish Times.
Second from bottom: Indonesia Record Dive photo from Indo-Asia Dive Club
Bottom: Mee Rae Firkins - photo from Aquaviews, Online SCUBA Magazine



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