LONDON: An Egyptian swimmer has broken the world record for the highest jump from water with a monofin.
Omar Sayed Shaaban, 21, from Ismailia recorded a 2 meter 30 centimeter jump, breaking the previous record held by fellow Ismailia native Soliman Sayed and Italians Cesare Fumarola and Stefano Figini, who all hit the 2 meter mark in 2011.
The civil engineering student has been swimming since he was 8-years-old, joining the Suez Canal Club a year later, and is now a professional sprinter swimmer coached by Farouk Al-Akhras.
Monofins, typically used in fin-swimming, free-diving and underwater orienteering, are shaped like a mermaid’s tail and swimming with them is considered a niche sport.
Training to beat the record has changed the way Shaaban eats, sleeps and trains as well, with three training sessions a day, two of them in water, with a gym session in between.
“I practise to increase my limb beat frequency and obtain stiffer muscles, but my aim is never to bulk up,” he said. “Bigger muscles make it hard to sprint in water, so I work out to maintain cutting cycle, increase flexibility, enhance muscle reflexes and of course build stronger legs.”
As a junior, Shaaban was ranked as the second fastest swimmer in the world, and he currently holds three world medals (two silvers and a bronze), and he achieved the new world record during a 3-month training programme for another upcoming championship.
He can cross 50 meters underwater on one held breath in only 15.6 seconds, and 100 meters using a snorkel in 35.5 seconds.
“As a sprinter, I understand that even thinking burns oxygen, so I tend to focus on the present moment. Part of our training is to learn how to be extremely relaxed inside the water,” he said.
“Swimming is peaceful. A rush of unexplainable thoughts crosses your mind underwater, but it is certainly different and healing.”
The young Egyptian told Guinness World Records he wasproud with the recognition received following his achievement, adding that he hopes to train in better conditions with full focus on the world record and raise the bar higher.
One of his dreams, he said, was moving from second to hold the title of fastest swim sprinter in the world, adding he was “just a couple of milliseconds away” from reaching top spot.