In late October, Karen van den Oever shattered her own Guinness World Records as the world’s deepest diving women when she descended to 805.93 feet on open-circuit. This is an over 32 feet improvement over her 774-foot record from last March. Guinness World Records still needs to officially verify the attempt.
Van den Oever completed the 8 hour, 11 minute dive in the renowned Boesmansgat cave in the North Cape province of South Africa, where the world’s third-deepest known sinkhole sits at an altitude of 5,085 feet above sea-level. This complicates decompression times and calculations, but adjusting for Bushmansgat’s altitude means her dive was equivalent to a sea level dive of 945 feet.
A technical diving instructor, the record-breaker was assisted by members of Somewhere Out There Diving (SWOT), where she teaches. “A massive thank-you to the most amazing dive-team,” she said. “Without you none of this is possible.”
SWOT had supported her previous record-breaking dive, which also took place in Boesmansgat. The world record before her was 725 feet, held by fellow South African diver Verna van Schaik. That record lasted 17 years, until van den Oever’s 2021 success.
Van den Oever took up scuba diving in 2001, and soon after set a personal goal of breaking the cave depth record. She held off on technical diving until 2006 “to gradually build up the skills and confidence to attempt this record,” she says. She also trained with Nuno Gomes, who set the men’s deepest cave-dive record in 1996 by descending 928 feet to the very bottom of Boesmansga.