Egypt’s Omar Hegazy now holds two underwater records: the longest distance swam in one breath, and the longest distance swam in one breath with fins. Or, in his case, a fin.
On April 1, 2022, the 31-year-old Hegazy took one big breath and swam 185 feet and 4 inches underwater without coming up for air. Then he lashed a fin onto his right foot, took another gulp of air, and landed his second Guinness World Record by swimming 251 feet and 7.68 inches before breaking the surface for another breath.
Those world records are just two among several notable accomplishments Hegazy has notched since losing his leg in a motorcycle accident 7 years ago. He also achieved a 12.5-mile swim across the Aqaba Gulf in 2017 and cycled 435 miles from the Sinai Peninsula to the Egyptian Pyramids in Giza in 2018. And he has since taken up mountaineering, according to the statement from Guinness World Records.
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The Road to Recovery and 2 World Records
Hegazy was 25 years old and had just moved to the Egyptian coast for a promising career in banking when the accident occurred. He was going for a casual summer ride when he hit a pit in the road, catapulting him under a moving truck and injuring his left leg irreparably.
After a few days in intensive care, his attending physicians concluded that amputating the injured leg would give Hegazy his best chance of a normal life. He underwent long-term physical therapy and even traveled to Germany for a top-of-the-line prosthetic. But none of that seemed to address the psychological duress and deep depression he was experiencing.
Then Hegazy heard about Faisal Al Mosawi and Dareen Barbar — two athletes that had broken world records without the full use of their legs. In 2018, Mosawi, a paraplegic diver, broke the world record for the fastest 10km scuba dive. Barbar, whose left leg had been amputated above the knee, won the 2021 Guinness World title for the longest static wall sit by a female.
“My source of motivation, in the beginning, was that I do not have much left to lose. I only got into swimming because I was very angry. I found a way to let out my anger and frustration, but it was also where I felt really free and capable,” Hegazy told Guinness.
Today, he works as a motivational speaker and advocates for those with disabilities.
“I hope these Guinness World Records titles inspire others and serve as a reminder that amazing is somewhere near you. You just have to open your eyes wide.”