He broke the record for swimming more than 56 metres underwater with just one breath – and he did it with just one leg

The Egyptian swimmer is also the first one-legged man to swim across the Aqaba Gulf. (PHOTO: Getty/ Gallo images)
The Egyptian swimmer is also the first one-legged man to swim across the Aqaba Gulf. (PHOTO: Getty/ Gallo images)

Despite losing his leg in a motorcycle accident, Egyptian swimmer Omar Hegazy (31) has broken two Guinness World Records.

On 1 April this year, Omar set a new record for the longest distance swim underwater with one breath, swimming 56,48 meters. He also broke the record for the longest distance swim underwater with one breath with fins, at a distance of 76,7 meters.

He has also swum the 220km Aqaba Gulf, cycled more than 400km from the town of Taba in the Sinai Peninsula to the pyramids in Giza, and he's a successful mountain climber.

He’s achieved all of these momentous tasks with only one leg.

Omar was starting his career as a banker in 2015 when he was involved in an accident which cost him his leg and nearly killed him.

Omar Hegazy has gotten used to the use of a prosth
Omar admits he initially struggled to adjust to his new life, but found inspiration by reading about other disabled athletes. (PHOTO: Getty/ Gallo)

After the amputation Omar spent several weeks in hospital, and he struggled to re-learn to walk and perform daily tasks.

He spent three months in rehabilitation and he struggled to accept his new life. He and his fiancé broke up too, and he became deeply depressed.

“My mental health was collapsing dramatically and I started to have an identity crisis,” he says.

During this time he developed an interest in swimming and read about athletes such as Lebanese amputee athlete Dareen Barbar who broke the Guinness World Record for the longest Samson’s chair sit, also known as a static wall sit, by a female contender.

The sit involves putting your back against a wall and holding the position until your thighs are parallel to the floor. She held it for two minutes and 8.4 seconds and became the first Arab amputee to enter the Guiness Book of World Records last year.

Omar also read about wheelchair user and diver Faisal Al Mosawi (37), who set the record for the fastest 10km scuba diving.

Faisal was in a car cash which damaged his spine and ended his ambition of becoming a soccer player. Like Omar, Faisal struggled with his new life in a wheelchair, but he found freedom under water.

“When I'm sitting in my wheelchair I feel like a bird in a cage. When I go underwater I feel free. It's like the cage door has opened and I can fly,” the diver says.

Inspired, Omar set out to find a record to break.

“My source of motivation, in the beginning, was that I don't have much left to lose. I only got into swimming because I was very angry. I found a way to I let out my anger and frustration, but it was also where I felt really free and capable."

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“I hope these world record titles inspire others and serve as a reminder that [something] amazing is somewhere near you, you just have to open your eyes wide,” he says of his achievements.

Sources: Guinness World Records, CNN,

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