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KEY LARGO (CBSMiami) – After 73 days living underwater, Roane state professors Jessica Fain and Bruce Cantrell surfaced the new world record holders.
“It’s so warm!” Fain said as she basked in the sunshine.
The two have accomplished a remarkable feat for a landlocked 6200 student college, in Harriman Tennessee.
The pair dropped down October 3rd, when the weather was 20 degrees warmer.
Over 10 weeks, they celebrated Halloween and Thanksgiving 25 feet below. The living quarters just 300 square feet came with Wi-Fi and Netflix, every meal was brought down by divers.
The facility and support was carried out by Key Largo’s famed Jules Undersea Lodge. It is the only underwater hotel in the world accessible by recreational divers.
“We thought it was going to be a lot harder than it was. We got along great. We didn’t have any problems. You vetoed one of my movies. Other than that we got along fine,” Fain said.
In fact they said they would have stayed longer if allowed too.
To keep busy, the professors beamed out weekly classes and seminars. They even used Skype with kids around the world. It was is exactly what they were after.
“If you go to a kid in elementary school 1 through 6 and ask them what their favorite subject is 9 out 10 will tell you math or science. Then they go to middle school and by the time they get to high school nobody likes math and science,” Cantrell explained.
Ian Koblick with Marine Resources Development Foundation, who dreamt this whole challenge, set out to change that.
“I’ll bet we got two or three converts to ocean exploration and science in the ocean from that,” Koblick said with a smile.
Koblick was there in 1992 when Richard Presley set the old record of 69 days. 22 years later, Presley came to see his record finally topped.
“It’s a long time coming but I’m excited to see it,” Presley said.
He walked over to Cantrell and Fain as they exited the water and extended his hand to shake the professors hands.
Cantrell pulled him in and said, “Give him a hug. Make him feel what it’s like to be in the water!”
Presley embraced the end of his record run, but warned this new record won’t last long.
“My son’s want to break y’alls record,” he said.
Now on the surface Fain is looking forward to holiday shopping.
As for Cantrell, just a nice breakfast.
“For the last week the only thing I’ve been talking about is bacon and eggs, and sausage, and grits, and gravy and biscuits,” he said.
The two also hope to visit some of the people that watched from the 124 countries over the last 73 days.
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