• Morgan Fagg

Athlone Club sets new Underwater Record

Updated: Aug 12, 2018

Published in the Athlone Topic in 2012

FIN: Mayor Alan Shaw toasts the 16 divers who smashed the Irish Underwater Record on Saturday 28th April 2012. The divers completed a combined total of 126 hours underwater.

BENEATH the surface of the pool a team of divers from Athlone Sub Aqua have patiently dived and waited for 6 days to break the Irish Underwater Record last set by the club in 1994 at 120 hours.

Celebrating the clubs’ 40 year service to the town, 16 divers undertook the arduous task of setting a new Underwater Record at 126 hours. Unlike trying to hold your breath underwater for a minute, Athlone Sub Aqua divers had to remain submerged with a minimum of two divers in the water at all time for a staggering 7,560 minutes.

HAND SIGNALS: Communicating with the support crew, diver Cian Hynes giving the Okay signal during the Dive Marathon.

As the town slept, members of Athlone Sub Aqua took turns diving through-out the early hours of the morning to secure their third Irish Underwater Record which was first set by the club in 1979 at 73 hours and nearly doubled to 120 hours 15 years later.

With 20 minutes left to go on Saturday April 28, the dive team assembled with the last diving duo Kelley Larkin and Robbie West at the bottom of the pool before surfacing one by one to the large cheering crowd that had gathered.

No stranger to spending long spells underwater, Derry McMahon one of the club’s founding members was the first of the divers to surface. This was Derry’s third Underwater Marathon and the club’s origins date back to 1972 when three divers Roy Redpath, Robbie Walsh and Derry placed a local newspaper advertisement to check if there were any others interested in pursuing the sport.

40 years later with over 80 members and a steady crew of supporters by the poolside through-out the week-long exercise the club is clearly not running out of breath any time soon.

Praising all those who assisted the dive team for the 6 long days spent underwater and also Athlone Regional Sports Centre which had to operate 24 hours a day with lifeguards on hand to assist the support crews. Organiser Cian Hynes paid special thanks to the entire club’s support staff that helped out, and especially to all the staff, Management and patrons of the regional sports centre for their help, support and patience. Which he said this new record couldn’t have been achieved without them.

Diving in pairs for 90 minute stints, time must tick very slowly for the combined 453,600 seconds spent underwater and divers occupied their time with reading, card games, a draughts board and even playing connect 4. Boredom meant that divers were also reduced to counting the number of tiles on bottom of the pool.

For five and a quarter days, people could see air bubbles emerging from the bottom of the pool but after 126 hours underwater, the Mayor of Athlone, Alan Shaw was on hand so they could enjoy some bubbles on the surface too and celebrate the club’s third successful Underwater Dive Marathon.

The dive team consisted of club chairman Billy Nott, Colm O’Reilly, Robert West, Deborah Riley, Oliver Fallon, Mick White, Liam Sherringham, Eric Nugent, Mono McDonald, Luke Costello and Kelley Larkin. Veterans of the 1994 attempt included Derry McMahon, Cian Hynes, Bernard Larkin and Geraldine Fogarty.

The club will now be eagerly waiting to hear from the Guinness Book of Records.

Click here for more poolside photos: https://www.dive-marathon.nohemingway.com

COUNTDOWN: The last two divers Kelley Larkin and Robbie West surface after 126 hours, 6 minutes and 14 seconds.

#athlonesubaqua #recorddives #guinnessworldrecords #athloneregionalsportscentre

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