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World Record Attempt Begins In Florida Keys

KEY LARGO (CBSMiami) - Could you imagine spending two-and-half months in the same room with someone?

Even if they were a relative, who you loved, it might prove difficult.

Friday, two people set out to do just that, spend 73-days together underwater.

"We are going to get on each other's nerves; female, male, the age gap just between the two of us, our taste in music, our taste in movies," Bruce Cantrell said.  "That is going to play out."

Cantrell and Jessica Fain know they are in for a ride.

CLICK HERE To Watch David Sutta's Report

The two are the unlikeliest of roommates.  If you met them on the street you might think Bruce is her father.  The two are professors at Roane State Community College in Tennessee.

They are out to do something that hasn't been done in 22-years: break the world record for living underwater.  "It's not a gimmick.  It's a once in a lifetime opportunity," Cantrell said.

Are they worried? asked CBS4's Davis Sutta.  Fain smiled and replied, "Not really." Bruce pauses and then said, "Yes."  He explained Jessica has the enthusiasm of a younger generation.

He, on the other hand, has seen a lot.  He knows one small mistake could jeopardize the whole thing; a slip and fall, a hurricane, an equipment failure.

Much of the challenge is out of their hands.

The current record for longest time underwater was set at the Jules Undersea Lodge in 1992.  Richard Presley made it 69-days and 19 minutes.  The time was play on the previous record set in 1969.

Ian Koblick with the Marine Resource Development Foundation is responsible for this latest attempt to top that. "It sounded like a good idea at the time," Koblick said.

He has run the Undersea Lodge since 1985.

"As an astute business man, I would have been fired for having a business that's never made a penny in 28-years but it accomplishes something," said Koblick. "It's gotten thousands of people involved, interested in the ocean," he said.  Which is exactly why 14-months ago Ian called up Bruce and Jessica to do this.

Why is Roane State Community College doing this? Cantrell smiled extra wide at the question. "Isn't that something?  Roane State Community College.  Land locked East Tennessee," he said proudly.  Most people have never heard of Roane State.  The community college has an enrollment of 6,200 students.  They definitely couldn't point to Harriman, Tennessee on a map.

Fain explained, "Being landlocked, most of our students have never been to the beach.  And that's hard to believe being in Florida.  A lot of our students will never see the beach."  Cantrell added, "I never saw the ocean until I was 18.  My experience was watching Cousteau and you just dreamed about, oh that's so cool."  This type of person is exactly who Koblick wants to see this.  "The ocean does not have the support that it needs, even though the ocean affects every human being on earth, because a lot of people - especially if you live in the back part of Tennessee or Arkansas have never even seen an ocean.  And they have to become aware of how important the ocean is," Koblick said.

This world record attempt comes on the heels of Fabien Cousteu's Mission 31 that he did during the summer.  The grandson of famed explorer Jacques Cousteau spent 31-days underwater in Florida International University's Aquarius facility.

The underwater laboratory located a couple miles off shore beamed live webcams and shows around the clock and around the world.  Cousteau estimated he reached millions through social media and substantial media interest.  In contrast, the Jules Undersea Resort is just steps from the Key Largo mainland.  The facility will allow guests to join the aquanauts with little effort or expense.  Koblick hopes the accessibility will help reach even more people.

Just after noon Friday, Jessica and Bruce entered the water and the clock started.  They'll be about 25-feet below the surface inside a 300 square foot cylinder.  It has Wi-Fi, running water, and a small kitchen.

Meals will be taken down via divers and a support team.

They'll be busy too, each week holding classes over webcams and hosting a number of celebrity guests.

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin will be among the guests over the coming weeks.  If all goes according to plan they will be coming out of the water in 73-days which is December 15.  You can watch it all play out online by clicking here.


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