Underwater Records and Acheivements in 2012

Diving into the past – Important 2012 underwater  milestones and of course the dubious records
Ignore what Captain Kirk said.  In 2012 the last frontier was underwater.

Never in the history of the planet has mankind ventured so far under the surface.  And, in pushing the underwater boundaries, more individual achievement records were set this year than ever before.  From the 7-mile underwater depth record set by Canadian filmmaker explorer James Cameron inside a futuristic one-man bathysphere, to freediver Ashley Futral Chapman who went down to 67 meters (223 feet) and back on a single breath of air, new milestones continue to be made and to be broken.

Skimming through our back pages we noted the following achievements, albeit some of them pretty dumb that were reached over the past 365 days.

CSS Website Photograph
  In January, members of the Czech Speleological Society (CSS) discovered and mapped the world's fourth longest underwater cave, Ko'ox Baal, which is over 56.5 kilometres long. In surveying the underwater passageways, Mexico’s Ko'ox Baal is now the longest underwater cave system that is mapped in the world.

Keystone ECO MarineCase
Yes, you can text underwater with your i-Phone4. As of January, 2012, the Keystone ECO
MarineCase, is the world’s first waterproof case made specifically for iPhone 4S/4. Put your iPhone in the slim MarineCase and it will work to a depth of 7-metres. A diver can take images and video underwater, as well as playback, email, text data and use apps below the surface. (You can’t talk on the phone though).

   The Casio watch company has begun production of the world’s first sport diving underwater transceiver that lets divers talk to each other while scuba diving.  The Logosease is a transceiver that is attached to the strap of a standard diving mask, allowing divers to converse normally with the scuba regulator in their mouths. The company says that “wireless communications is enabled by ultrasound and bone conduction technologies” and works to a depth of 180ft.


Hamster in sub - frame grab from students' YouTube video
 On April 29, 2012 students from a US Ocean Engineering program (probably Texas A&M) posted an extended video of the world’s first (and only) Hamster-Powered Submarine. The sub, made out of a plastic soda bottle, held a dry live hamster and its exercise wheel.  The hamster ran in the wheel, which turned a propeller, driving the sub slowly underwater. The first voyage was made in 2009.

World’s first underwater mosque - press photo
        In May a group of Saudi divers built what they described as the world’s first underwater mosque
The divers used massive plastic pipes filled with sand to construct the symbolic mosque under the water off the northwestern town of Tabuk, close to the border with Jordan.  After constructing the mosque the divers performed prayers inside the open concept structure.

A small tabloid dive story caught our eye in June! A British newspaper called it the stupidest dive stunt ever performed. Turns out it wasn’t a scuba dive but, indeed it was stupid. At the Royal Cornwall Fair the public watched Professor Splash, an elderly American stuntman, perform a death-defying 30ft dive into just 12 inches of Cornish milk!

In Indianapolis, Ohio, the world’s first underwater dart tournament was held in early August to raise money for the local leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Teams of scuba divers threw Toypedo "darts" through square targets made from PVC pipe.

Facebook photo crom Chagsha, China
The World’s Record for Static Apnea was set in June in Chagsha, China.  Tom Sietas, a German free diver was submerged in one Plexiglas tank, Brazilian breath holding champion, Ricardo Bahaia in the other. 
22 minutes 22 seconds later Siestas came up for air, he won the world record for holding one’s breathe in a tank.  He beat Bahaia’s old world’s record by 2 minutes and 1 second.

Hope those California mutts are pool trained!  The world’s first calendar featuring diving dogs is released in October. LA Photographer Seth Casteel’s 2013 calendar was an instant success and has raised money to improve the image of animal rescue and adoption.

Diving for dollars! A 22-year-old Pennsylvania man, William Heidi, found a printing plate for counterfeit $20 bills while scuba diving near the Susquehanna River Bridge in September. Police believe the plate had just been thrown into the river.

The World’s First Underwater Bingo Game (held in a shark tank). A group of English divers have been dreaming up extreme Bingo games to raise money for charity. The winning stunt?  Six players took their Bingo cards into the shark tank at the Blue Planet Aquarium, in Cheshire, England.

Aquarium Press Photograph
Also in 2012 and also in a shark tank, the world’s first underwater shark tea was staged at the Sea Life Aquarium. Teatime underwater in the large salt-water tank was done to show that sharks are not “blood thirsty sea monsters”.  
 Attending the tea were 15 big sharks including Black Tip Reef Sharks, Nurse Sharks, Brown Sharks, Sand Tiger Sharks, a Zebra Shark and a Bowmouth Guitar Shark.

Late in September, the State of Michigan created the World’s Newest Underwater Park! The Lake Michigan shipwrecks off Muskegon, Whitehall, Grand Haven, Pentwater and other points along the West Michigan shoreline are now inside a newly created underwater park. The freshwater preserve covers about 345 square miles and features 13 identified shipwrecks and three other historical structures. Mooring pins will be set near the wrecks -- divers are welcome to visit the shipwrecks but are forbidden, by law, to damage them in anyway.

Photograph from Paul Devane's Flickr account
 On Tuesday 9th October 2012, off the west coast of Ireland, Paul Devane set the new Guinness World Record for the longest open saltwater scuba dive in cold water (10 C) at 13 hours and 4 minutes. In 2009, the 33-year-old was forced to pull out of his first attempt due to a technical malfunction: the pee valve on his drysuit that let him void, failed.

Ashley Chapman - Photo by Igor Liberti

Late in November at a free diving contest at Dean’s Blue Hole in the Bahamas, Ashley Futral Chapman achieved the seemingly impossible by diving, without fins,  to 67 meters (223 feet) with just a single breath of air in her lungs. The swim lasted 3-minutes and 15-seconds. The 30-year old American set her third World Record in the freediving discipline of Constant No-Fins.


Kathryn Nevatt
In November the world’s best female freediver of 2008 broke the world’s record but didn’t get to keep the title because she didn’t stay conscious during the attempt. New Zealand’s Kathryn Nevatt was disqualified in her attempt to set the world free-diving record for swimming underwater despite swimming the farthest ever swum by a woman. Nevatt broke the current record of 163m held by Russian Natalia Malchanova, (she swam 164m) but lost because she briefly fainted during the 7-minute swim.

 The world’s record for the youngest and the oldest certified diver appears to be held by 10-year old Jevon Leighton, 15-year old Lucas Barroso and 92-year old Norman Lancefield.  According to Learn to Scuba Dive Magazine, Lancefield is the world’s oldest active diver, The Welsh diver continues to dive using the same equipment he bought in 1970!  The same magazine reports that Ontario teenager Lucas Barroso is the youngest person in Canada certified for rebreather diving. In December 2012 The Berwick Advertiser (Berwick-On-Tweed, UK) claimed that local resident, 10-year old Jevon Leighton is the youngest certified PADI diver in the World. He got his C-Card in Malta during the summer.

Case solved – scuba crime #1. Four people were arrested in Pennsylvania in April for using scuba gear to commit crimes against the game of golf! Three men and a woman were charged with the theft of 8,000 golf balls from country clubs near Willistown, PA. Using scuba gear, they dove the water traps at the courses to retrieve lost golf balls.  They operated a used-ball business.

Unsolved Case – scuba crime #2. Italian police have not found a statue believed to have been stolen on New Year's Day 2012. The 3.5 ton, 7.2 ft tall bronze statue of St Francis of Paola has stood on the seabed off the coast of Calabria since 2007. It was embedded in concrete 95ft down and was a popular dive attraction.  Although the statue has not recovered, a club searching for it did discover a 100-year-old shipwreck near the crime scene.

THE ALMOST MADE ITS  - An Estonian dive club tried to break its own record for Number of Divers Playing Checkers Underwater at one time.  42 played games underwater in January 2012, however their old record of 55 players set in 2011 stands … for now.
A team of Australian divers in early February set out to recapture the Guinness World’s Record for Underwater Ironing. Alas they didn’t make it, only 102 divers, ironing boards, irons and wrinkled shirts made it underwater.  The record stays in the Netherlands where 173 divers helped take the title in 2011.


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