South African sets new women’s

Image: Pixabay

South African sets new women’s deep cave diving record

A challenging dive at Bushmansgat Cave: South Africa’s Karen van den Oever recently broke the women’s deep cave diving record.

South African sets new women’s

Image: Pixabay

Karen van den Oever of South Africa recently broke the women’s deep cave diving record at Bushmansgat Cave (Boesmansgat) – a deep submerged freshwater cave in the Northern Cape province of South Africa,

This hole is believed to be the third-deepest submerged freshwater cave (or sinkhole) in the world.

New women’s deep cave diving record set in SA

The impressive feat follows in the footsteps of the previous women’s deep cave diving record of 221 metres (721 feet) set by Verna van Schaik in 2004. Van Schaik’s dive lasted more than five hours, of which only 12 minutes were spent descending.

According to Deeper Blue, on 26 March 2021, Van den Oever dove to 236.04 metres (770 feet) at Bushmansgat Cave in South Africa’s Northern Cape province with a bottom gas of trimix 6/85, and ultimately set a new record. Her dive lasted seven hours and 18 minutes. Adjusting for Bushmansgat’s altitude of 1550 metres (5085 feet), her dive was equivalent to a sea-level dive to 283 metres (928 feet).

“This was a dive that I have been working towards for a long time. It was a challenging dive,” she said according to the publication. “You train not for the dives that go well but for when things don’t go well. I decided to turn at 236 meters/774 feet, as my intuition told me that this was where I needed to stop.”

Karen van den Oever on ‘being in the moment’

The greatest depth ever attained at Bushmansgat Cave was by Nuno Gomes in 1996, diving to a depth of 282.6 metres which is currently the men’s record.

According to Good Things Guy, Van den Oever was very nervous and anxious before the dive, but as soon as she entered the water and started her descent, her focus was on the dive.

“You are truly present only in that moment with complete focus on the task at hand.”

She reportedly started diving in 2001 while on holiday in the Eastern Cape; she later joined the Wits Underwater Club where she became an active member and committee member.

“It was here that I had the opportunity to meet Nuno Gomes and Verna van Schaik. Listening to the encounters of their expeditions and their journeys to become world record holders inspired me to move into technical diving; it was then that the seed was planted – maybe I too could one day attempt the women’s world record. Getting to the point where I felt ready to attempt the record has been a very long journey to make sure my skills and knowledge where were they needed to be to ensure I came back alive.”

Watch: Inside Bushmansgat Cave (Boesmansgat)