By Bejay Browne
RAY Woolley, 95, will attempt to set a new world record as the world’s oldest scuba diver by going down to the sunken wreck of the Zenobia ferry in Larnaca on September 1.
The dive will see Ray attempt to reach a depth of around 40 metres and the entire process will be filmed, photographed and documented in line with guidelines approved by Guinness World Records.
The nonagenarian, who lives in Limassol, already holds the Guinness record title following a similar successful dive on his 94th birthday last year, where he dived to a depth of 38.1 metres for 41 minutes.
He told the Sunday Mail: “I am really looking forward to breaking the record again and thankful for the support from my fellow divers. It’s really exciting that so many divers will be with me to celebrate this event.”
Ray’s main dive buddy, David Turner, the Diving Officer at WSBA (Western Sovereign Bases Area) Sub Aqua Club at RAF Akrotiri, is organising the record attempt and said that more than 40 divers are expected to take part.
“Last year 23 divers took part, this year it’s 44. It’s an example of the high regard the diving community in Cyprus holds for Ray,” he said
Ray will celebrate his 95th Birthday on August 28, and members of his family have flown to Cyprus to celebrate and see him undertake his dive.
Son Ken, also a keen diver, as well as Ray’s daughters, Kath and Lyn, one of his grandsons and a great-granddaughter will all be supporting him, he said.
The nonagenarian is known for his deep dives often reaching 45m, but has made an agreement not to go below 40m, to ensure safety, according to his dive buddy.
“He’s a little cheeky, always wanting to go deeper than he should, I’ve now put a maximum depth of 40m in place as I’m responsible for his safety.”
Ray is a World War II veteran who served in the Royal Navy and ‘SBS Special Force 281’ in the Dodecanese. After the war, he trained as radio engineer and whilst working for the British foreign office was posted to Cyprus in 1964.
He is originally from Port Sunlight on the Wirral Peninsula in the UK, and started swimming at his local swimming baths aged five. In Cyprus he dives with the British sub aqua club- BSAC-at RAF Akrotiri and began diving with the Portland and Weymouth British Sub Aqua Club in 1960.
Ray has also gained global attention after appearing on TV in both Cyprus and the UK and is now featuring in a documentary film about his life. ‘Life Begins at 90’, was filmed in Cyprus and highlights Ray’s life, his passion for diving and the water, and his healthy approach to ageing. It premiered at the 13th Cyprus International Film Festival in July, scooping the award for ‘Best Cinematography in a documentary feature film’ and is currently competing in film festivals worldwide.
Ray said : “It’s rather nice, if surprising to get all this attention and it’s all because I’m active. As we age, plenty of exercise is necessary to be fit and keep everything on the move. Also, to do everything in moderation.”
The record-breaking scuba diver spends more than two hours a day exercising in his pool, consisting of both swimming and aerobics, which keeps him nimble and supple.
“I will keep on diving as long as possible, I love being in the water.”
He also plans to march past the Cenotaph in London on Remembrance Sunday again this year, as he did when he was 90.
Ray will know if he has officially been awarded the title in a few weeks time.