Another Scuba Depth Record Attempt in 2016.  One More Case of Plummet And Pray?

It was announced today that Egyptian diver, Wael Omar, is preparing for a new World Record attempt for the deepest dive using scuba equipment.  His announced target depth is 400m.

  Here is the initial press release: Egyptian diver Wael Omar prepares for deepest dive of 400 meters | The Cairo Post

wael omar depth record attempt

photo from Youm7

Personally, I don’t want to speculate on his relative chances of success or failure. That’s simply because there has been no information published on how he intends to make the attempt.

If, however, he was planning the attempt using the same approach as previous attempts, successful and unsuccessful, have used; then I think it is a pointless exercise that carries a high risk of tragic conclusion.

My assumption, based on the little information publicly available, is that there will be no novel or ground-breaking strategy introduced during his depth record attempt.

If no cutting-edge or revolutionary approach is being used, then there is little potential for learning or advancement from the attempt. The scientific factors relating to hyperbaric physiological effects at these depth ranges are already well understood and predictable. Commercial diving conquered the challenges of reaching these depths many decades ago.

Many divers assume that the greatest challenge with extreme deep dives are the calculations and logistics needed to safely decompress on ascent.  Whilst these factors are undeniably critical, the biggest challenge to extreme deep divers actually occurs from the descent to depth.  This is where several former record breakers had to abort their dives early; and where the last attemptee, Dr Guy Garman, died.

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HPNS and compression arthralgia precludes rapid descent to extreme depth. Commercial diving solved this issue by drastically slowing onset of pressure through very slow descents in surface-supplied diving bells.

The commercial diving approach contrasts distinctly from the rapid ‘bounce’ dive attempts that have hallmarked scuba record attempts thus far. No scuba depth record attempt has yet opted to instigate a comparably slow descent, due to logistical/practical limitations on the gas that can be carried.

Other extreme depth factors, like gas selection, gas delivery, precision gas production / blending and thermal protection have also been solved in the commercial diving world.

I’ve heard some people say that attempts like these are “pushing frontiers” and “advancing diving science”, but I am absolutely stumped to find any scientific advancements that a ‘plummet and pray‘ approach to attaining extreme depth in scuba equipment can provide. Beyond, of course, more positive evidence that the existing solutions are fatally flawed and inherently limited.

I can only wish Wael Omar the very best of luck, and hope that he and his team won’t be just plummeting and praying for a slice of momentary glory.

For those that missed it, here are two pertinent background articles relating to the tragic 2015 world depth record attempt by Dr Garman:

A Fatal Attempt – Psychological Factors in the Failed World Depth Record Attempt 2015
by Andy Davis (amended and also published in Diver Medic and Dive Safety Magazine, Dive Magazine and Skydive Magazine)

Factors in Deep Scuba Diving | Doppler’s Tech Diving Blog
by Steve Lewis

 

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