In 2009, Sean McGahern broke the world record for the longest dive in open waters when he spent well over a day under the sea off St Julians – but it simply was not enough.
He will be back next month to attempt the Guinness World Record cold water open sea dive, which stands at 12 hours in 15°C waters, at Starfish Diving School in St George’s Bay. And the training has begun.
But Mr McGahern’s initiative is not just a physical challenge, it also has an emotional and charitable goal, aiming to raise funds to improve research and treatment of cancer by breaking a record “in memory of our lost ones”.
“Twelve years ago, my mother lost her battle against brain cancer, leaving behind my father, myself and my three brothers. My 38-year-old aunt is now suffering from breast cancer, with three children to care for. I also recently lost my foster sister, Michelle Rowley, at 35. She too left behind two children.
“Cancer does not care who you are and what you do in life. It affects us all,” Mr McGahern said.
He plans to stay in water colder than 15°C for at least 15 hours at a depth of 12 metres in memory of those he lost and is urging others to support him by digging deep in their pocket and donating.
Mr McGahern was born in Brighton but Malta was his home for 15 years. He has been diving for about eight but his interest dates back to hot afternoons at his uncle’s house on the island where, as an eight-year-old boy, he was supposed to be taking a nap but would instead scour his bookcase, which opened up a whole new world that took him under the sea.
“The thought of being able to swim free as fish, to float in the deep, azure waters and see a whole new world stayed with me until, eventually, I was in a position to turn a lifelong dream into reality,” Mr McGahern said.
Since then, he has built up a host of qualifications, all the way to Master Scuba Diver Trainer (MSDT), specialising in a number of areas – “not bad for a boy who left school at 14, unable to read and write properly!”
Still, that was not enough and in September 2009, after many hours of training and planning, Mr McGahern plunged into the water to break the 24-hour record, unable to surface for any reason.
He recalls having to overcome a number of hurdles, including eating, drinking and urinating through a pee valve, while coping with the water temperatures by day and night. But the memories do not put him off taking things a step further next month.
Mr McGahern took the opportunity to thank those who would be flying out to Malta for the event.
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