Today, back in 2004, after almost 6 hours in the water I surfaced with a new Guinness World record for the Deepest dive by a Woman in Scuba! My dive to 221m also broke my existing record set in 2001 for Cave diving and altitude! I have held world record for 16 years – a feat I never thought possible! Only Nuno Gomes who has held the men’s world record not once but twice and who I think still holds the cave record has had such a long run! Which is surprising!

When I dived I was in the top 5 Deepest dives ever. These days my dive to 221m is shallow and my place in the overall unofficial rankings is in the 40’s. All of which means that to dive deeper than 221m isn’t brand new – there is plenty of data to use to find a ‘how’! So where are the women

There have been two attempts at setting a new record (that I am aware of) that have ended up in fatalities. Not a good track record for the ladies who love to explore! I know! I am not comparing like with like – how many men have died sub 200 in the time period ? What I do find interesting is there is a pattern of sorts to be found in the two ill-fated attempts- both ladies had an expert advising them.

Which makes sense right ? If you want too do something no other lady has done, find someone who has been there and use his expertise and experience! That was what I thought when I first started my journey. I was devastated when the only guy who had been deeper that I had access to (Nuno Gomes), wasn’t interested! So I had to find my own way!

If you want to learn about how powerful you really are, about what real autonomy feels like, about trusting yourself to the point where you are betting your life on the decisions you are making and there is no one else to blame, then do a solo world record dive! It took me years to get over the sense of betrayal and abandonment I experienced when Nuno said No, but it was one of the greatest gifts I have been given, simply because I wasn’t able to lean on an expert! The decisions were mine and mine alone! The blame was mine and mine alone! Which didn’t mean avoid consulting!

Thinking back and looking at the two dives I am aware of where the ladies died, I can’t help wondering how much ‘expert bias’ may have been at play ? It is easy to think that as a lady you can get deeper by doing what the guys did, but is it true ? I couldn’t copy Nuno or the guys who were doing 100m plus dives simply because I wasn’t them! As a woman my weaknesses where their strengths and the methods they used, the dive plans they used, the decisions they made were tailored to okay to their strengths! So I had to take how they dived and work out why they made the choices they made so that I could find the risks they were managing and hiding in a technique and come up with my own – which broke all the rules at the time!

Maybe one day sub 200m will be easily repeatable, a process and framework for making decisions that anyone can use, maybe! But until then perhaps the next lady who has her sights on the label Deepest will do it another way – going solo and using the power, autonomy and greatness that I fundamentally believe we all have, it just takes something like a world record for us to be forced into using it!