A loved-up couple celebrated Valentine’s Day in a rather unique way - with the longest underwater kiss.
Beth Neale (South Africa) and Miles Cloutier (Canada) smooched for a whopping 4 minutes 6 seconds beneath the water in an infinity pool.
Their make-out session smashed through the previous record of 3 minutes 24 seconds, which was set 13 years ago on Guinness World Records’ Italian TV show Lo Show dei Record.
The engaged couple, who are both divers and live in South Africa with their one-and-a-half-year-old daughter Neve, travelled to the Maldives to attempt the record at the LUX* South Ari Atoll resort.
They began their attempt at 7.30 am, starting off with some breath hold warm ups and two trial underwater kisses of two and three minutes, before going in for the gold.
And despite all their practise since first coming up with the idea three years ago, underwater filmmakers Beth and Miles admit the whole thing was a lot more challenging than they anticipated.
Beth told us: “Three days before the record I could just not hold my breath.”
Miles added: “We couldn’t even reach the existing record – we weren’t even close.”
They started really training for the record attempt a few weeks before heading to the Maldives, and when they got to the stunning location, the nerves really kicked in.
“It was very interesting for me because I’m a freedive instructor,” Beth said. “And all the things I tell my students, I wasn’t able to follow myself for the first time in my life.”
Beth is a four-times South African Freedive Champion and has set a number of South African National Freediving records and African Continental Records.
But while record-breaking is nothing new to Beth, the longest underwater kiss was an entirely different story because it’s the only time she’s had to remain still and be aware of how much time has passed.
As carbon dioxide built up inside Beth and Miles’ bodies, they had to fight the urge to swim to the surface and take in a deep breath.
But they fought against their instincts by looking to each other for support during their history-making record attempt.
Beth, 40, and Miles, 33, enlisted the help of the Maldives’ top underwater videographer, Sidey the Shark, to capture the moment.
A crowd also gathered to watch their record attempt, with the couple explaining they had asked for silence until they had surpassed the four-minute mark.
However, under the water, they couldn’t hear the whoops and cheers coming from the people watching them.
Miles said: “I was waiting for the applause because we fully expected that and it never came, so we were kind of waiting and waiting for it.
“The longer you’re in the breath hold, the higher the level of discomfort rises, so it was a bit disorientating.”
Miles described their record-breaking feat as ‘the hero’s journey of a breath hold’, admitting that he found it difficult from the off.
With their heart rates high and the urge to breathe getting stronger and stronger, they pushed through the barriers to continue their smooch, and it all paid off in the end.
Beth can hold her breath for an impressive six minutes.
Her Instagram posts, under her handle @onebreathbeth, often go viral, including one where she lipsyncs along to Eminem’s Lose Yourself while underwater.
And Beth’s secret to success on the day was putting in her underwater earphones and listening to that very same song to push through those final moments.
Beth taught Miles how to freedive, but their techniques differ quite a lot.
While Miles enjoys keeping an eye on the time to monitor how long he’s held his breath, Beth would rather not know how long she’s been submerged.
Miles and Beth have been together for almost five years after meeting in Bermuda – and it was love at first sight.
Beth, who can freedive to 60 m (196.85 ft), was running a programme called “Kids on the Reef” to teach children how to freedive and why the underwater world needs to be protected.
Miles was a volunteer who turned up to help on the day.
“Usually the volunteers are elderly people who want to help out,” Beth said, blushing. “And I wasn’t prepared for when Miles walked in.”
Miles hadn’t spent much time in the ocean but was very interested in learning how to freedive, so meeting Beth was a match made in heaven – in more ways than one.
Miles said he knew Beth was ‘the one’ as soon as they met.
And a love for the water certainly runs in the family as Neve is quite the swimmer herself.
Beth takes her daughter into their pool at least once a day, and the little one always has a big smile on her face whenever she goes under the water.
The proud mum regularly posts snaps and videos of herself freediving alongside beautiful sea creatures like whale sharks and dolphins.
Beth and Miles, who goes by the nickname “Aquaman”, also have a joint Instagram account, @freedivingcouple, where they share their adventures together beneath the waves.
Beth says all people are born with the ability to freedive and that it’s not an extreme sport that’s just for elite athletes.
Her mission: to teach and inspire as many people to freedive as possible and make a positive difference to the challenges facing the underwater world.
The couple work together professionally to film underwater, and have teamed up with conservation and tourism organisations to show people what there is to be explored and discovered in the watery depths. Through filming together, they continue to explore beneath the surface and find stories to share with those that are still more comfortable on land.
And when it comes to earning Guinness World Records titles, the couple admit they’ve definitely got the bug and they’re already thinking about their next attempt.
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