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Fla. Diver Breaks World's Record For Longest Saltwater Dive

LAUDERDALE-BY-THE-SEA (CBSMiami) – Florida scuba diver Allen Sherrod set a new world record Saturday in South Florida for the longest scuba dive in saltwater.

Sherrod's breaking record: 48 hours and 13 minutes. The old record for the longest saltwater dive was held by William Gordon, a United Kingdom diver who set it in January 2010 in Lombok, Indonesia. Gordon's record was 48 hours, 8 minutes and 7 seconds.

This was Sherrod's second attempt to break the record. On Friday, his wife said he was on track to complete the task even though he'll leave the water earlier than anticipated.

Sherrod wanted to stay in the water until noon Saturday, but then decided to even cut that goal short due to expected rough surf, which makes it difficult for safety divers to bring him air tanks.

Divers with his safety team were pounded by the surf and sea conditions overnight as they carried fresh air tanks out to him. Some divers lost gear; others returning to shore were swept far south of the Windjammer by strong currents.

But surely enough, Sherrod surfaced at 10:25 a.m. on Saturday, breaking the current world record by just under 5 minutes.

A crowd of supporters and members of his dive safety team applauded when Sherrod emerged. Divers helped Sherrod walk up to the beach, where Volunteer Fire Department Beach Patrol members and paramedics were waiting to transport him to his hotel room.

Once there, paramedics with American Medical Response checked his blood pressure and other vital signs, according to Steve d'Oliveira with the Town of Lauderdale-By-The-Sea.

The back of Sherrod's knees were bruised from the trip. His hands were also visibly puffed up from two days of exposure underwater, d'Oliveira said. As he emerged from the ocean, he also needed assistance walking.

He spoke to the media and thanked his dive safety team and Gold Coast Scuba, a Lauderdale-By-The-Sea dive shop which supported his efforts.

"I was glad I was able to break the record in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, the Shore Dive Capital of South Florida," he said.

Sherrod, who is from Groveland, Florida, went into the water Thursday morning just after 10 a.m. by the Windjammer Resort, which is off Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. He's in about 15-feet of water and is also eating, drinking and sleeping underwater.

"All I have to do is stay three days," said Sherrod on Thursday before he began his lengthy dive. "Just think about this when you get a three day weekend off from work, it is never long enough."

On Friday, Debby Sherrod told CBS4 News that Allen was "doing wonderful and the safety divers are doing an impressive job."

Sherrod set up his temporary ocean residence in about 15 feet of water near the Town's newest artificial reef, which stimulates coral growth by using a low-level electric current fed by solar panels.

The buoys housing the panels are being repaired after they were damaged by rough seas earlier this year. The artificial reef is about 250 yards offshore and just south of the Windjammer Resort.

A NAUI diving instructor for 11 years, Sherrod chose the Town's coral reefs because they are close to the beach, according to the city.

A popular spot for beach divers because of its near-shore coral reefs, the Town of Lauderdale-By-The-Sea was declared the "Shore Dive Capital of South Florida" by the Broward County Commission in September 1997.

Nicknamed "the grouper" by Windjammer Resort General Manager John Boutin, Sherrod recently set a world record for the longest freshwater scuba dive in Central Florida (five days). During the attempt, he said he lost six pounds.

During the dive Sherrod limited his food intake Gatorade and chocolate Ensure. He also slept, but not for very long.

Sherrod first attempted to break the record on Oct. 25. He cut short the effort after just 12 hours, when worsening sea conditions posed a threat to his safety divers.

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