Record bid diver taken to hospital

Sean McGahern is helped into the water at the beginning of his record attempt.

Sean McGahern is helped into the water at the beginning of his record attempt.

One diver’s bid to break his own world record by spending 15 hours underwater was prematurely terminated after he went into hypothermic shock.

Sean doesn’t even remember how he was pulled out

Sean McGahern, 38, entered St George’s Bay’s waters at 9pm on Saturday and was expected to emerge yesterday at around midday.

However, things took a bad turn a couple of hours into the dive when the diver’s dry suit, designed to prevent water entering, started filling with water from the waist down.

Mr McGahern communicated to the two support divers accompanying him and the decision was taken to haul him out of the water. According to the assistant director of World Record Diving Malta, Mr McGahern went into hypothermic shock as he was ascending.

“In fact, Sean doesn’t even remember how he was pulled out. I’d like take the opportunity to thank St John Rescue Corps for the amazing job they did,” Mikaela Papagiorcopulo told The Times.

The voluntary rescue service team, which was waiting on standby, took Mr McGahern to hospital where he was treated and subsequently given the all-clear at 5.30am.

The rest of the World Record Diving Malta team remained at St George’s Bay to clean up debris from the seabed.

Interviewed by The Sunday Times, Mr McGahern had said the 13°C temperature of St George’s Bay was tolerable but “will start to feel pretty cold towards the end of the dive”.

Born in England, raised in Ireland and a resident in Malta for 18 years, he set the current world record for the longest cold water open sea dive in March last year at 12 hours and 34 minutes.

Yesterday’s dive was his fifth world record attempt in Malta, having previously held the record for the longest warm water dive.

Despite the aborted dive, Mr McGahern is not dejected and looks forward to his next attempt in 2014.


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