Get to know Ray Wooley, the oldest scuba diver in the world

ray wooley

World War II veteran Wallace Raymond Woolley (known as Ray Wooley for short) doesn’t let age stop him from doing what he loves most – scuba diving.

Born on August 28, 1923, Wooley started diving in 1960 with the Portland and Weymouth British Sub Aqua Club (BSAC) and remains an active diver until now.  He credits scuba diving as the key to his longevity and hopes that he could remain fit and alert to enjoy the world beneath the waves. The British veteran shares his passion for diving with his son, Ken who said that regular pool training and in-water exercises help keep his in the pink of health for his age. 

In 2013, Wooley celebrated his 90th birthday by diving 90 feet which was tagged as “90@90” and his remarkable diving adventures didn’t stop there. 

In September 2017 at the age of 94, Wooley set an astonishing record when he dived for 41 minutes at a depth of 38.1 meters. A year later, he beat his record by plunging to depths of 40.6 meters for 44 minutes which earned him the Guinness World Records for the World’s Oldest Male Scuba Diver. Wooley felt great about breaking his record and said that he would love to do it again. 

True to his word, the war-time veteran once again wowed divers and non-divers alike with a record-breaking feat on August 31, 2019. It’s a cause for a double celebration as the scuba enthusiast surpassed his record on his 96th birthday by diving for 48 minutes and reaching a depth of 42.4 meters. Along with 47 other divers, Wooley explored the Zenobia wreck at the southern coast of Larnaca, Cyprus which is rated as one of the top 10 wrecks in the world. The 174-meter Swedish ferry MS Zenobia sank in June 1980 on her maiden voyage and currently lies on her port side, approximately 42 meters deep. 

Wooley has been diving for 59 years now but each descent is always a memorable experience. The 96-year-old wishes that he could continue diving until he reaches 100 which many of his fellow divers hope to witness.

Wooley’s dives are chronicled in the documentary called “Life Begins at 90” which revolves around the story of his life and time in World War II. The film, written and directed by Bejay Browne, premiered at the 13th Cyprus International Film Festival (CIFF) in 2018 and won the award for Best Cinematography in a documentary feature. It is set to be shown at the Bosnia-Herzegovina film festival this September 2019. 

“I refuse to accept the fact that I’m getting old,” Woolley says in the documentary.

The veteran scuba diver is hopeful that he could inspire other people to embrace a more active lifestyle by exercising regularly, especially as they grow older.