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For the Record

Everyone thinks they want to stay underwater forever. It’s a mystical facet of the world we fell enchanted by like an actual siren-song… of COURSE we would want to stay forever.

No you wouldn’t.


There is a question on our student/visitor intake forms that asks about longest single dive time to date. And anyone who answers “90 minutes” but wants to do a 5 hour dive… we’re gonna have a talk.


Something happens to most people (it happens to me almost exactly) at 180. They forget how to scuba dive. Forget the complexities of caves or rebreathers… they couldn’t clear a snorkel with both hands and an air gun in the middle of a bone dry gymnasium.


For my part, after a lot of dives, I know that if I simply stop for 2-3 minutes to just zone out and clear my head I’m good for another 2 hours or so.


Bear in mind, I’m not talking about dives where it’s 5+ hours of deco. Shit, that’s easy, bring some magazines, a book, nowadays, some movies. After a few hours of swimming just zoning out and binging The Sopranos while keeping your HUD visible is a welcome mint-vacation.


I’m talking about dives where you are maintaining buoyancy and control with every tiny depth change, maintaining full awareness of the the line, your team, and the cave around you, ensuring every directional decision was seen an agreed on, and on and on with the multitude of things that is going to ensure everyone gets home safe.


You zone out. You start making rookie mistakes. I’ve watched some of the most well-seasoned cave dives alive swim or scooter right past a T or a strange jump, then staring straight at it like, “Yeah, a jump; so what?” when I get their attention.


What’s more, for this to be a diving segment that long with little or no deco segment… it would have to be really shallow. Where being a diver is the biggest pain in the ass. (Nohoch, for example, average depth: 12 feet.)


For hours and hours and hours and hours of swimming.


Maintaining an appropriate level of focus as a cave diver (as opposed to a deco manatee) for THAT long is intellectually (and emotionally, in a way) challenging.


And for all the fact that every decoration in every single cave is absolutely unique in the universe… when it’s just a long canyon of highly decorated cave for ages upon unfathomable ages, all you can see that the canyon never seems to end.


Yes even a riotous abundance of uniqueness can get boring and monotonous. Which is why I’ve never been to Burning Man.

For all those reasons, I probably wouldn’t do this dive myself, and I certainly wouldn’t advise it to most folks. It became popular to post about huge dives a few years ago; fell out of favor when it started to become clear that such social media updates were setting something of goal-standards or target destinations for people. And everyone knocked it off.


But what do I know? I think records are dumb.


I do know his two mentors/instructors. And I know they’re just as likely to put a student in danger as they are to buy a pogo stick, start a trans-continental trek of self discovery on it, ending with them living happily with a family of illegal beaver traders on the edges of society in the Northwest Territories.


So beyond that: fella definitely has something to brag about. Not the world record. 28,000 of swimming? At, say, 50 feet per minute? What was that. 10 hours? Of kicking? How did you stay awake? You should be proud.


And… the shared resurvey with QRSS is pretty awesome, too. Nohoch is exactly the sort of place that you would think should be resurveyed and immediately go, “Fuck, where do you start?”


In any case, it’s neat to see. And now I can stop answering the question, “How far is the Blue Abyss,” with more precision than, “I dunno. Far. About 90 minutes TO the Abyss on the trigger nearly the whole way.”


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