Egyptian diver Walaa Hafez hopes to set another record on Tuesday, when he plans to plunge into the New Suez Canal to accomplish the world’s longest-distance dive.
The former naval officer, currently a maritime guide at the Suez Canal Authority, told media outlets that his dive on is part of the publicity campaign for the inauguration of the new 72-km canal, which is scheduled for Thursday.
In the Guinness Book of World Records, Hafez holds the title for longest open saltwater scuba dive with a Red Sea dive off the coast of Hurghada that lasted a total of 51 hours, 24 minutes and 13 seconds over the days of June 4-6, 2015.
Now, the 36-year-old has announced his ambition to break another world record, set in 1978 when American Neal Watson swam 106 km from the Bahamas to Florida in 19 hours and 30 minutes without once breaking the surface.
Hafez told the state-owned Middle East News Agency (MENA) on Sunday that he aims to dive into a central stretch of the Suez Canal and swim back and forth for a distance of 125 km within just 17 hours. The dive would be a costly and technically arduous endeavor, funded by officials from the Suez Canal Authority and the Egyptian Navy, he continued. A support team of 12 individuals will reportedly be accompanying Hafez during his dive.
Breaking this specific world record “is the best gift which this diver could present to Egypt and Egyptians on the occasion of the conclusion of the digging of the New Suez Canal,” MENA wrote.
The news agency also reported that Hafez would first begin his feat by diving to the maximum depth of the new Suez Canal (24 meters), “so as to show the world, through the devices in his possession, the success realized by Egyptians in reaching these new depths.” Hafez would then commence his attempt to break the world record while diving at the depth of six meters.
A lower-key publicity stunt was also widely covered in the local media on Monday. Photos and videos circulated widely of a team of eight scuba divers who dove into the Red Sea off the resort town of Dahab to celebrate the completion of the canal.
The photos show the divers plunging deep into blue waters while proudly displaying an Egyptian flag, and sporting white shirts that read, “August 6, 2015 – The New Suez Canal” and the hashtag, #EgyptCelebrates.
Other Egyptians who retain world records for feats of diving include professional diver Ahmed Gabr, who claimed the world record for deepest scuba dive in seawater after plunging to the depth of 332.35 meters off the coast of Dahab on September 18, 2014.
Gabr and 613 others also hold the world record for most participants in an underwater clean-up (single venue) during a collective waste-disposal effort off the coast of Hurghada on June 4.