The northern lights exploded above Tromsø when the Norwegian Viking, Nils-Roar Selnes surfaced at 00.29 Sunday the 23rd October. Together with the enthusiastic and hardworking support team, he could celebrate that the world record for the longest SCUBA dive in cold water had been extended to 15 hours and 10 minutes. Finally, the record had been moved from the Mediterranean to above the arctic circle where it belongs.


Northern lights above Eidkjosen, photo by Torgeir Andreassen

When we call Nils-Roar Sunday afternoon, he has just woken up from a well-deserved nap and feels like he has been running a marathon.
“The record dive was hard work, I had to be constantly moving the entire dive” he says. Even after a 15 hours dive in a water temperature of 7 degrees Celsius, and with a small leak in his dry glove, he managed to stay warm. He measured his skin temperature after the dive to 30,5 Celsius. Sunday afternoon the temperature has only increased to 31 Celsius!


Getting ready for the dive. Photo by Nora Selnes.


Nils-Roar Selnes taking the plunge towards the record, photo by Bjørn Rollstad


The first attempt for the world record was done three weeks ago. The dive had to be aborted after ten hours due to technical problems. The record dive didn´t run without problems: One hose on a stage bursted, and Nils-Roar had to change to the back-up stage while the stage was returned to the surface.


Nils-Roar during the dive. Soap was used to remove the fog in his full face mask. Photo by Karstein Jenssen

When approx. one and a half hour remained of the dive, the full face mask started to free flow. “I considered switching to a normal scuba mask, but I managed to adjust the flow down to an acceptable level” he says. The gas consumption went up, but there was enough back up gas available. Approx 35.000 liters of Nitrox and air was used during the dive. Nils-Roar carried a twin 18 liter set on his back and the support team supplied him stages during the dive. In total 12 stages where prepared. He had a ten-minute air-break between each nitrox stage, to reduce the risk of oxygen toxicity.


Some of the many stage tanks used for the record dive. Photo by Nora Selnes.

In order for the record to be valid, the entire dive had to be filmed and the diver had to stay below five meters. With the shallowest depth of 5.1 meters on the dive computer after thirteen hours, Nils-Roar came very close to spoiling the entire effort. The computer log and several terabytes of video footage now have to be sent to Guinness for approval of the record.


A neopren sock was used for keeping the «food» warm. Photo by Nora Selnes

“I don´t break records all the time, so I have no idea on how long this will take” Nils-Roar says. He feels that the most important thing is that he has accomplished his goal. He has spent two years on planning this dive and is very grateful for the many volunteers who wanted to assist him. His support team counted more than forty persons. When we ask Nils-Roar: What now? he quickly replies; “I have no plans of more record attempts. I think my friends are tired of my crazy projects”.

Nils-Roar works as a commercial diver. When are you back underwater? We ask. “Monday I luckily have the day off from work to recover, but I´m back in the water during the end of the week” he laughs.

We have compiled this video from the event. Thanks a lot to the everybody for sending us film clips and pictures.