Walaa Hafiz (Photo: Al-Ahram)
Walaa Hafez, the former Special Forces naval SEAL team leader and one time world record holder, is aiming to break a new diving world record as part of the celebrations for the opening of the Suez Canal extensions, and is set to start his mission on Tuesday morning.
Described as the "Egyptian Whale" by the governor of South Sinai, and currently a marine pilot with the Suez Canal Authority, Hafez will attempt to dive for 125 kilometres, starting his mission on Tuesday at 7am, hoping to break the current milestone of 100 kilometres under water in 24 hours.
Hafez told Ahram Online that the mission will start with 30 minutes of him diving at the deepest level of the new Suez Canal extension to show off the achievement that he described as a significant honour for Egypt. He will then carry on at the depth of six metres with the assistance of his team that consists of 12 professional divers.
“We aim to break the current record by covering the distance of 125 kilometers in a time that ranges from 17 to 20 hours,” Hafez added.
If he breaks the world record, it would be the second time for Hafez. In June 2015, he logged the world record for the longest diving time ever, remaining under water for 51 hours and 24 minutes, beating the previous record, which was 51 hours and four minutes.
According to Hafez, he suggested the idea to the head of the Suez Canal, Mohab Memish, in order to participate in the opening celebrations "with an activity that will benefit Egypt".
Hafez notified the Guiness World Records in preparation for his attempt.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi announced last year the start of digging a parallel canal as part of the Suez Canal Development Project and vowed to have it completed by mid-2015.
The Egyptian government has recently announced that the opening of the new Suez Canal would be held on August 6, ending the project in one year as promised.
Memish announced earlier the completion of preparations for what he described as a fabled celebration and expected world figures to attend including French President François Hollande.
According to his official website, Captain Hafez went to school at Victoria College in Alexandria and graduated from the Egyptian Naval College in 2001, then retired from the Egyptian Navy Special Forces due to a serious injury during the January 25 revolution.