Some people run marathons for charity. Robert Silva plans to break a world record for it.
Illinois scuba diver Robert Silva is scheduled to come to San Pedro, Ambergris Caye in September where he will attempt to set a new world record for the longest saltwater dive. To succeed, he will have to stay underwater for over 36½ hour.
Ambergris Today contacted Mr. Silva and he says that his goal is to stay underwater at least 48 hours to set a new world record which now stands at 36.5 hours. Silva tells us that the dive must be completed on scuba gear with no ties to the surface, meaning that he cannot use any type of hoses from the surface to provide air. It must be completed totally on SCUBA gear. The record also provides no breaks so he must eat, sleep and do everything else underwater without breaking the surface. One other thing is that he must achieve a depth of 20 feet for at least 20 minutes; outside of that he can be at any depth.
Robert Silva’s current plan is to attempt this record-breaking feat off of Hol Chan Marine Reserve. Not being able to surface at anytime during his dive, Silva’s diet will consist mainly of liquid meals which he will consume using a Camelback-type system, like hikers use. To sleep, the plan is to clip off to a line and just try and relax enough to sleep for a bit. Support divers will always be in the water monitoring his air supply as he tries to sleep.
What does he plan to do with all his free time underwater? “I plan to listen to music, come up with some little games that can be played underwater and talk to the team,” he said in another interview with matadorsports.com. “The plan is to have two-way communication units for communication with the surface. And, of course, I will pass some time watching the wildlife.”
Robert then tells Ambergris Today that this was definitely a personal choice. “I have been diving since 1999, and from the first time I fell in love with it,” he tells us via email. He completed his PADI dive master course on a reef off Ambergris Caye.
“I was on a Dive trip with Scuba Emporium at the time and only had a few more things left to complete to finish the internship. We were staying at Ramon’s at the time, and the dive master from Ramon’s that was leading our dives actually participated in the last portion of my training. Ever since going to Ambergris Caye I have wanted to return and after talking to someone from Ramon’s about the record attempt, they had offered to host the event from their resort. It was a perfect opportunity to return to the island and complete this dive.”
Silva says that he loves how laid back the island can be. “I come from Chicago where everything is just rush, rush, rush. To be able to go somewhere where time really has no meaning is great.”
This world record attempt is also being done as a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. Robert is a team captain for an ACS Relay for Life event and this year he will be combining his love for SCUBA diving, and raising money for charity.
“I have also been working to raise money for The American Cancer Society for many years,” Silva tells Ambergris Today. “Cancer has affected my family and my friend’s families so it has always been important to me to do what I could for this great charity. It seemed natural to me to combine my love of diving and helping this charity into a fundraising event.” The American Cancer Society supports Cancer research and provides support for those suffering from it.
Below are a few questions that Mr. Silva answered in an interview with Matador Sports:
Q. What kind of physical training are you doing to prepare for your attempt?
The biggest training item is time in the pool, just experiencing long duration and gear changes underwater. I am eating healthier than I have in the past. More than athleticism I believe it is going to take the proper mindset to get through the dive. I’m not going into this thinking it will be a cakewalk to sit underwater for so long. I know it will get harder on my body and mind the longer I stay under.
Q. What are the main challenges that you expect to face?
The main concern I have will be the weather. The weather can make or break this event. I’ve had people ask about sharks, and things like that, [but] one thing I’ve realized is that sharks are not mindless killers. I’ve seen sharks while diving in Belize in the past and they were never a problem. I expect to see mostly nurse sharks, and they tend to be very docile.
Q. What kind of potential emergencies or problems are your preparing for?
The biggest issue will be possible gear problems. Saltwater can be hard on the gear; having to do tank changes underwater could introduce saltwater [into] my regulator. I plan to have secondary gear on the boat that can be sent down to me if needed, and also a second setup put together and ready for use on a line beneath the surface. I have scuba medical insurance, which includes airlifting me off the island if it becomes needed.
Q. In your opinion, what does it take to break a record like this?
Being prepared as best as possible and being in the proper mindset. You have to be willing to take a risk. Doing something like this is outside of any normal type of dive, and no matter how much you prepare, something is sure to happen. Keeping my cool and dealing with the unexpected will be very important for this dive. It also helps to have the support of your friends and family. Though they all think I’m a little crazy for wanting to do it, they all stand by me and give me their support.
Q. If you succeed in your attempt, you will have done something that no diver has ever done before. Where do you see yourself going from there?
I guess I could see myself making another attempt at the same record. I’ve also been looking into other scuba-related records for future attempts.
Change of plans
Silva, 31, initially set out to break the much longer freshwater record, which stands at about 120 hours. The location of the dive was going to be Haigh Quarry, a former limestone pit in Kankakee, IL. In March, however, Silva received a call from the quarry’s owner withdrawing its offer to host the attempt.
After searching for another site and “just hitting dead ends”, Silva received and accepted an offer to challenge the saltwater record at Ramon’s Village, a dive resort in Belize.Ambergris Today