US scuba diver Arthur Graf Jr has the green light to carry out what he says will be his last dive – and to become only the second centenarian to hold the Guinness World Record for oldest male scuba diver.
Graf, from San Antonio, Texas, was born on 30 May, 1922, and gained his scuba certification alongside his son in 1984 when in his early 60s. He has since logged 701 dives around the world, according to KWTX. He told the TV station that diving can remain easy enough for those of his advanced age, so long as they have not been smokers and avoid strong currents.
He has not dived since last autumn but plans a swansong plunge this November, when he will be 100 and six months, to wrest the GWR title from fellow-American Bill Lambert. Lambert started diving only at 98 and broke the record with a 12m lake-dive in 2020, undertaken two days after his 100th birthday, as reported on Divernet.
Graf has been cleared by a cardiologist following a stress test and echocardiogram, and has also taken an SSI pool refresher course, though he will still face a final medical check by Diver Alert Network (DAN)-certified diving doctor John Joseph.
“To my knowledge, there’s nothing specific about being 100 that would disqualify him,” said Dr Joseph. “But the most common cause of fatalities in divers is the same as it is on land, which is heart disease, so we wanted to make sure that he had a good-functioning heart… he has a better heart function than a lot of 60- and 70-year-olds.”
Dive locations are still under consideration, but possibilities include Bonaire and the Cayman Islands, with Dr Joseph acting as one of the two witnesses required by GWR. A certified dive instructor must also be on hand, and the whole dive of a minimum 20 minutes be filmed.
“No one has ever actually cleared a diver at his age, so there’s a little bit of anxiety on my part, but it’s overshadowed by the excitement for him,” said Dr Joseph, who described Graf as an “amazing human being”.
Before Lambert, the world record was held for several years by British diver Ray Woolley, most recently after a 42m dive on the Zenobia wreck near his Cyprus home in 2019. Woolley is understood to have recently celebrated his 99th birthday.