Husband and wife Phil and Grace Hampton may not walk as well as they used to, but that did not stop the octogenarian couple from diving into the record books in the Cayman Islands.
Phil, 86, and Grace, 85, from Orlando, Florida, believe they are the oldest scuba diving couple in the world. They have applied to the Guinness Book of Records for official certification of the title.
To be recognized in the record book, the couple had to dive to more than 40 feet for 30 minutes and have the dive witnessed by three independent judges.
Mr. Hampton, a former rocket scientist who worked on the U.S. space shuttle program, said they had read about a couple, ages 67 and 69, who were going for the record.
“When we saw that, I thought ‘oh boy, they are just kids.’ I have been diving for 50 years, Grace has been diving for 30 years. It is something we love to do together and it would be fun to have the record,” he said.
They have submitted their application and expect to hear back in the next 90 days.
Mr. Hampton said he and his wife try to go on a dive trip every year and have been to the Cayman Islands on numerous occasions.
“We enjoy it so much,” he said. “It is a highlight for us to be able to do it.
“Unfortunately, as you get older, you get a little more decrepit and travel isn’t as easy as it used to be; putting your equipment on isn’t as easy as it used to be, but once you get in the water, you are fine. It’s perfect.
“The real secret is staying active as an older person and watching your health and hopefully having good genes. My wife still cycles regularly and I walk two miles a day and do resistance exercise three times a week.”
Even with nearly 5,000 dives between them, the couple say they are still fascinated by the underwater world and see new critters or animal behavior every time they dive.
Mr. Hampton recognizes he will not be able to dive forever but has no plans to hang up his regulator just yet.
“I don’t have an age limit in mind. It’s a matter of physical capability and health,” he said.
The Hamptons tried for the record on a dive trip last year in Bonaire but their application was not accepted because one of the witnesses was a family member.
This time, the couple traveled with three generations of their family to Cayman Brac for the dive trip, but also dove with independent witnesses who have signed their application to the Guinness Book of Records.
“We are hoping that this time we have done it right and they will give us the record,” Mr. Hampton said.