Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 16 November 2019

British war veteran breaks own scuba diving record at 96 – in pictures

Ray Woolley explored a shipwreck off the coast of Cyprus as he plunged to a depth of 42.4 metres

A 96-year-old celebrated his birthday this weekend by breaking his own record as the world's oldest active scuba diver for the third year running

Second World War veteran Ray Woolley, who marked his birthday on Wednesday, August 28, plunged to a depth of 42.4 metres for 48 minutes – the equivalent of a 15-storey building – event organisers said. He beat his previous record of 40.6m for 44 minutes.

"Its just unbelievable. I've been diving now for 59 years and these are the sort of dives that you remember because there are so many divers with you," Woolley said, of the 47 divers who swam with him on Saturday, August 31.

The group explored a shipwreck off the coast of Cyprus for the occasion.

"If I can still dive and my buddies are willing to dive with me, I hope I can do it again next year," Woolley told Reuters after the event, organised by the Larnaca municipality and the town's tourism board.

Woolley, who lives in Cyprus, was a radio operator in the Second World War. Has successively broken two previous records he held in 2017 and 2018. He is originally from Port Sunlight in north-west England.

The Zenobia, a cargo vessel laden with trucks that sank off of Larnaca in 1980, is a popular dive site. Underwater images showed Woolley and other divers sitting on the hull of the submerged ship as fish, and the occasional turtle, swam by.

A documentary on his life, Life Begins at 90, will be shown at the Bosnia-Herzegovina film festival in September.

"I refuse to accept the fact that I'm getting old," Woolley says in the trailer.

Updated: September 3, 2019 12:43 PM

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