The 10K Record

I have a special story to share with you today. It is a story about diving; a story about a family affected by cancer; and a story about never giving up.

This is the story of Christopher Healy, a native of Kilmaley, Co. Clare.  In March 2010 Christy and his wife Trish were given the news that their only child, Stephen (18), had Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (a cancer of the lymphoid tissue).

Cancer is a family affair – as those of us who have been diagnosed with cancer know so well. Cancer does not just affect the patient, but impacts on the whole family, and so it was with Stephen’s family too.

One of  Stephen’s regular visitors during his hospital stays was Christopher’s cousin, Jonathan Mangan, an active volunteer with the Share a Dream Foundation (making dreams come true for sick children in Ireland). An idea began to form in Christopher’s mind that he would like to do his own fundraising for the charity by attempting a 10 km dive – a new world record. Christopher, an experienced diving instructor with his own diving school, The Atlantic Diving School, based in Ennis, Co Clare, says:

I didn’t have anyone behind me at this time but I was willing to have a  go at this dive,  I was confident that a couple of friends that I knew would give me a hand, and to my great pleasure they did

Christopher began training for the World Record. Daily physical training (both on land and in the water), combined with  hospital visits and running his own business meant that he had to be focused and determined to reach his goal.

On October 2nd 2011, Christopher was ready to attempt the dive.

The divers  set out from Doolin pier amidst a great flurry of activity and excitement with the Ennis sub aqua team, the Civil Defense, supporters, family and friends.

However, upon hitting the water,  Christopher experienced the first of several cramps in his leg and combined with dropping core body temperature, pain in the kidneys and vomiting  he reluctantly had to pull out of the dive before hitting the 10 km.

He had been so close to the record – completing 9.4 kms.

At this part of the dive I was near 9 or 10k, but the pain in my side and the cramps were getting worse.   The divers came down and I changed the bottle very slowly.  John showed me the slate, 8k he had written, I gave the thumbs up and I called it a day there and then.  There was no way that I could do another 2k,  maybe 1 but not 2.   I was gutted, for myself and all the crew, and all the training felt like it was for nothing.  Even 9.9 k was not good enough I was sick with myself.

Christopher began to plan his next dive attempt.  And on the 23rd of October 2011, a cold wet day, the second attempt of this world record took place at Lough Derg, Co. Clare.

We changed the dive to Killaloe, Lough Derg, because we couldn’t guarantee the weather in the sea.  There were at least 25 people involved in the whole operation and I needed to make sure that we got the job done this time as it was too difficult to get all the helpers there on another day due to other commitments.

Following a set course on the lake, Christopher dipped under the water and the dive started.  10 kms is a long journey under water without much to see or hear.

I would have liked it very much if I could have seen the bottom of the lake for the whole dive because it gives you something to look at rather than looking at the same length of rope for 6 hours, that isn’t very exciting. I only saw the bottom twice, once at the 5k mark and coming in to the finish.

Thirty minutes before the finish of Christopher’s dive, his son Stephen and wife Trish, were among the support divers leading Christopher towards the pier and the finish line.

Six hours and 21 minutes after he had dipped under the water, Christopher reached the pier to cheering and applause from a crowd who had braved the rain to watch him become the first person to set a new World Record for the fastest time to dive 10kms, a marathon under water. He had done it!

The story continues…

Today Christopher is planning a  new diving attempt and will continue to raise money for his chosen charity. And Stephen…after six months of chemotherapy and a kidney operation, Stephen has been given the all clear.

Book Giveaway

Christopher has written a book about his record breaking attempt. I have read an advance copy, and even though, I know nothing about diving, I found it to be a fascinating and inspiring read. For those interested in diving, it is a wonderful book, with detailed information about the dive and fantastic pictures.

One lucky reader will win a signed paperback copy of Christopher’s book along with a personal bookmark.  All you have to do to be in with a chance of winning is to leave a comment which starts with the following words:

Today I’m diving into_______________’

(Today, I am diving into a pile of laundry and the ironing, followed by a dive into a batch of freshly baked blueberry muffins!)

To double your chances  of winning, why not dive on over to the Atlantic Diving School and leave your comment there too.

Christopher will be giving away a copy of his book each day this week in the lead-up to his official launch this Saturday. Check out these other virtual tour stops to read interviews with Christopher, find out more about his story and be in with another chance to win his book.

Buy The Book

The official launch of The 10K Record is happening Saturday, May 5th in  Hughes and Hughes Book Store, Ennis, Co Clare ( full details  can be found on the Atlantic Diving School’s event page).

From the 6th May, you can also purchase a copy of The 10K Dive from Christopher’s author site.

So, what are you waiting for? Dive on in with your comments!