JEDDAH: The body of Saudi free-diving champion Bassam Bakheet has been found in a search and rescue operation carried out by Border Guards in Jeddah.
Bakheet went missing on Thursday while training in the sea in preparation for a free-diving event that is part of Jeddah Season.
In a championship in May 2017 in Egypt, organized by the global freediving association AIDA, Bakheet set a record for Saudi and Gulf divers by diving 71 meters under water without an oxygen cylinder or fins for two minutes and 56 seconds.
“I met Bassam two years ago at a Ramadan gathering for divers. During these two years, our friendship grew stronger, especially during recent times,” Hamza Siam, a doctor and a free-diving instructor who worked closely with Bakheet, told Arab News.
“We were working on a business project and I’d gotten to know him more. He became a very dear friend of mine,” Siam said.
“He was very kind and humane. He loved everyone and everyone loved him. His smile was enough to brighten up everyone’s day. He was an amazing person,” he added.
“It was a very painful and tragic incident to bear, especially for me and our colleagues who were all there at the time of the incident,” Siam said.
“I was one of the last people who interacted with Bassam. I’d take photos and videos of him diving and keep them on my phone,” he added.
“The incident was heart-breaking. I couldn’t do anything at the time. We tried looking for him for an hour in the sea.”
The diving community mourned Bakheet’s death. @Fkhayat09 tweeted: “Jeddah & its community is sad today & grieving the loss of our best free-divers instructor. The hero who holds many records nationally & internationally #bassam_bakheet May Allah bless his family & loved ones w/ patience.”
@Sp_SNz tweeted: “Your smile will remain. Despite the fact that I have not interacted with you so much, I admire you and I wish I had known you sooner. You were very polite and loved. You wished good for others and always lent a helping hand.”