You know how the skin on your hands gets wrinkly every time you spend a little too much time in the bathtub? Imagine what your hands must look like after ten full days of being submerged underwater. Tim Yarrow doesn’t have to imagine it; he is the current record holder for the longest time spent underwater and he has the hands to prove it.
Back in 2002, South-African Aquaman Tim Yarrow spent 240 hours submerged in a small water tank in a Johannesburg shopping mall. He beat a record that dated back to 1986, but it was much tougher than you think. Breathing issues aside, the man had to eat, sleep and do his “business” underwater for 10 days, while groups of shoppers gathered around the tank and watched. He used a low fiber diet delivered through a tube, and a catheter to eliminate waste from his body. Scary stuff if you ask me, but not nearly as scary as how his hands looked when he finally came out of the water. Even though he wore scuba gloves the whole time, the guy had the hands of a 200-year-old. The Science Channel’s “Outrageous Acts of Science” TV show explains why Tim’s hands became so freakishly wrinkled.
Photo: The Science Channel
“The reason that you get such wrinkly hands and feet is because the surface of the skin is covered in dead keratin cells and they absorb water faster than any other cells,” British biologist Ellie Harrison explains. “Because they’re attached to the live keratin cells beneath, they just puff up and end up having to wrinkle. There’s nowhere else for them to go.” And although a quick dip is harmless, a long period of time underwater could have serious implications on our health. “I should think in the long term, if he stayed under water for an extraordinarily long time, the skin would break down,” Harrison said. “It would probably blister and that would leave him really open to infection, particularly in that water, he could get really quite ill.” Luckily, Tim’s hands recovered completely after the stunt and he suffered no serious injuries.
I guess you can say Tim Yarrow gives “fish fingers” a whole new meaning…