Dubai coach smashes swimming in handcuffs world record

Shehab Allam beat the previous title holder by more than 3km

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From skipping robots to the biggest ball of human hair and the record for eating the hottest chillies, Guinness World Records are getting weirder every year.

To add to the list this year is Dubai-based endurance swimmer Shehab Allam, who has broken the record for the longest swim while wearing handcuffs.

When Mr Allam, 31, jumped into the water off the Pointe on Palm Jumeirah on Saturday, he was attempting to beat the target set by American Ben Katzman, who broke the record in February after swimming 8.6 kilometres in just under four hours in a Virginia swimming pool. He swam back and forth along a 164-metre marked-out route completing the same lap about 70 times to get to 11km.

A far cry from a swimming pool, Mr Allam’s effort took place in the open waters of the Arabian Gulf, and to beat the record he had to wear handcuffs for the entire challenge. He was also not allowed to touch the support boat at any point.

'Just kept on swimming'

“The distance of the laps changed with the tide so there was an independent monitor to keep track of exactly how far I had to swim,” said Mr Allam, a swimming instructor from Egypt, who also teaches people to free-dive.

“At 50 laps I realised I had gone past the record, so kept going.

“I hit the 10km mark and then felt good so kept on swimming until I had done 70 laps — so it was more than 11km in the end.

“It feels amazing to be a Guinness Record holder, this is my biggest achievement — and was a longer swim than the Dubai Canal.”

Shehab Allam swam back and forth along a 164-metre marked-out route.

Mr Allam is no stranger to the record books, as he became the first person to swim the length of the 25km Dubai Canal in 2020.

He said the experience served him well in providing the mental strength required to swim for hours wearing handcuffs, and only being able to use only his legs for propulsion.

The attempt has been approved by Nakheel, the main developer of The Palm, and Dubai Sports Council.

The handcuffs are metal and he has worn the same pair throughout his training.

As impressive as Mr Allam's record may be, the aptly-named Dolphin Ratheesh from Kerala, India holds the record for the farthest swim wearing handcuffs and leg irons, racking up 10kms in Karunagappally, Kerala, on November 18, 2020.

Funny looks

Mr Allam, who lives in Jumeirah Village Circle, said his training swims have attracted some concerned onlookers.

“Every time I get the chance to go to the beach I take my kit, change and jump in the sea for two hours at a time,” he said.

“When I’m wearing the handcuffs I get some strange looks. I try to make sure I swim where it is quiet ― on the limit line of the beaches, but I do get a few stares.

“Guinness has unusual records, so to set a new target it is always something a bit out there.

“I want to push myself to the limits, and see how far I can go to challenge myself every time I set a new goal.

“I could not have done this without my team, I now want to look at breaking the record in handcuffs and leg irons.

“Being In the record books makes me feel like a superhero, and I want to stay there.”

Updated: November 07, 2022, 12:30 PM
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