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Wheelsdan claims three worlds at Stoney

Wheelsdan
Wheelsdan with Monty Halls at the Go Diving show earlier this year
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Paraplegic British scuba diver Dan Metcalfe-Hall, aka Wheelsdan, has applied to Guinness World Records (GWR) to recognise three new underwater distance and speed achievements at Stoney Cove – but is concerned that technical issues that arose on 28 September might hamper official verification.

Using his arms alone for propulsion, the fresh open-water scuba records in Wheelsdan’s disability category (Muscle Paralysis 2) were for greatest distance; fastest mile; and fastest mile with a swimming band (which binds the legs to rule out any possibility of movement).

The 34-year-old from Grantham covered an underwater distance of 5.246km in 5hr 32min at the Leicestershire inland site, well ahead of his projected 6hr 30 min.

And with a target of two hours to reach the initial mile mark, he was pleased to find that he made it in only 1hr 28min – and that his sidemounted gas supply had lasted the distance.

The endurance challenge involved taking on water and energy gels at intervals and swapping cylinders while staying below 6m.

Metcalfe-Hall lost the use of his lower body in a motorcycle accident in 2014. This was compounded four years later when a car hit him while he was competing in a 600-mile charity hand-cycling ride, leaving him with a serious neck-compression injury and reduced muscle strength in one shoulder. He was also diagnosed with PTSD and depression at that time. 

The GWR bid had been flagged on Divernet in April, when Wheelsdan explained that he wanted to raise awareness of scuba diving with a disability but also to fund-raise for MAGPAS Air Ambulance, the Scuba Trust and the National Dive Centre at Stoney Cove. He has so far raised 90% of his £5,000 target, but donations can still be made at his JustGiving site.

Verification at risk

The downside of the day was that GWR verification could be at risk because, despite the many eye-witnesses among Wheelsdan’s large support team, the housing for the main camera that he had built himself flooded at the outset. 

Rather than abandoning the attempt, Rob Thomas, the diver responsible for shadowing Wheelsdan to record the dive, was able to improvise by borrowing several GoPros. However, this meant that the recording process was not continuous, as required under GWR’s strict rules.

Wheelsdan now hopes that the world records body will accept that the available footage provides sufficient evidence when combined with the logs from his two dive-computers.

A gym instructor before his accidents, Wheelsdan is now an assistant scuba instructor and has acknowledged the sport as a “life-saver”. He participates in a range of charity events, “proving that there should be no boundaries when it comes to people with disabilities taking part in sport… or anything else for that matter!”

Wheelsdan
Wheelsdan diving while on honeymoon in Grenada’s Sculpture Park before the record attempt

Earlier this month Wheelsdan got married, and he and his wife Eve celebrated their honeymoon staying at Grenada’s TrueBlue resort and diving with Aquanauts.

* A 68-year-old British snorkeller was swept out to sea and disappeared off the island of Bali in Indonesia on 28 September, with a search and rescue operation understood to be continuing.

Graham Smith had gone snorkelling with his wife off Blue Lagoon Beach resort in Karangasem, on Bali’s east coast. His wife called police at around 5:30pm, about an hour after she had left the water alone, and after an initial speedboat search the full-scale operation began in darkness some five hours later.

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