JP Campher hopes to break the Guinness World Record for the longest cold open water scuba dive, in August. Picture: SUPPLIED
Cape Town - For many, being under the ocean can be a daunting prospect, but for JP Campher, it’s something he loves.

The 37-year-old from Brackenfell will attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the longest open water scuba dive in cold water. The attempt will take place in Shark Alley at Miller’s Point, Simon’s Town, in August.

Campher’s official attempt is 48 hours as he plans to beat the previous record of 30 hours and 20 minutes set by Cem Karabay in Turkey last year.

Two of the main criteria for the record is that the water temperature should not exceed 15°C and the dive must exceed a depth of 5m.

Campher received his open water diver certificate in 2009, advanced open water diver certificate in 2012 and rescue certificate in 2018.

“I am specifically doing the cold water record as it is our normal water temperature. The plan is to attempt 48 hours to show that Africa is not for sissies. I hope to put Cape Town on the map as a diving tourist destination because we (still) have some of the best diving around. As a famous diver once said in an interview, if you are tired of diving in Cape Town, you are tired of life,” said Campher.

He will be attempting this dive to create awareness regarding the condition of our oceans.

“This sounds vague and overly broad but it is a living ecosystem and everything we do impacts it. It is in our best interest to take care of our oceans. From climate change, overfishing and plastic litter, everything eventually flows back into the ocean and as the adage goes, out of sight out of mind. If we don’t see it, we are not affected by it.

“The recent drought taught us the value of water and with this campaign I’d like to teach the value of our oceans. Imagine waking up one day and all your memories of the ocean and the beach are gone, what would we lose? What would we deprive our children of?”

Leading up to the record-breaking attempt, Campher will have four preparation dives to ascertain comfort levels, oxygen usage and to work on cylinder-swopping, sleeping and eating - technical aspects that will have to be adhered to throughout the attempt. However, he said the most important preparation in the dive plan.

“Divers have a motto: ‘Plan the dive and dive the plan’. With my two main support divers, my ‘brothers’ Eugene Prins and Jacques Prins, we have planned, preplanned and replanned even more, working out time tables and nitrogen saturation levels for this dive. At depth (under pressure), nitrogen gets absorbed into the body and into the bloodstream.

“This can cause narcosis and if too much nitrogen is still in the body when the diver ascends it can lead to bubble formation in the blood and decompression illness, commonly referred to as ‘the bends’. In severe cases it can cause death,” said Campher, who won the Mr Fish Breath competition at the Cape Town Dive Festival in 2016 and 2018.

Weekend Argus