According to Guinness World Records, Karen van den Oever, the world’s deepest female scuba diver, has just surpassed her deep dive record set in March 2021. On October 27, 2022, she descended 10.6m (34 feet) further than last year. Karen’s previous record was 236.04m (774 feet) set in Boesmansgat, also known as “Bushman’s Hole” a legendary deep submerged freshwater cave (or sinkhole) in South Africa’s Northern Cape province. Karen of Johannesburg, South Africa, dived on open circuit to a depth of 246.65 meters (809 feet) in Bushmansgat Cave. The dive took over 8 hours. This is a new female world record.
Bushmans Hole is known for the death of Deon Dreyer, who died while ascending at a depth of 50 meters (164 ft). Dreyer’s body remained in the cave for ten years before being discovered at a depth of 270 meters (886 feet) by cave diver Dave Shaw. Dave Shaw died on January 8, 2005, after becoming entangled in the line while attempting to recover Dreyer’s body.
Karen began scuba diving in 2001, when her parents gave her scuba lessons as a birthday present. She began cave diving in 2007 and was initially uninterested. She has a BSC Honours degree in pharmacology, which is not related to scuba diving. After meeting two deep water divers, she made the decision and trained for her record deep dives for several years. Karen’s personal goal was to break Verna van Schaik’s cave depth record, which had stood for 17 years. Verna is now a corporate employee who dives only occasionally.
Karen works as an instructor at the Johannesburg-based (South Africa) technical diving school “Somewhere Out There Diving”.