We're very excited to announce Britain's deepest freediver, Gary McGrath, as a new Marloe Watch Company Ambassador. Gary holds the National Record having achieved a depth of 112 meters - there are only 21 metres between Gary and the current world record and he is confident he will be a contender for the title of world’s deepest man very soon. We'll be working very closely with Gary on a few projects, most notably, the real-world testing of the Morar 310.
Born in 1981 and raised in leafy Twickenham by his Thai mother and British/Irish father, Gary was exposed to the Thai Buddhist culture throughout his childhood, spending his Sundays at the Buddhapadipa Temple in Wimbledon, South London. There he studied the basics of Thai language, Muay Thai and traditional dancing and meditation. This early exposure to spiritual practices helping to calm and focus the mind was instrumental in progressing his freediving career.
Gary studied engineering at college, switching to music technology, and worked as a live and studio engineer in his early 20s, before training to become a tree surgeon. He says: ‘The state of mind you need to be in while hanging from a rope with a chainsaw 20m above the ground is very similar to the state of mind you need on a deep freedive; in control yet able to let go and to think very clearly and calmly under pressure.’ Gary swam breaststroke competitively in his youth for the South of England, and has always leaned towards solo sports, fascinated by the challenge of having only himself to rely on in the moment.
His passion for the ocean was instilled at a young age on family holidays to the south coast of England, trips to Thailand to visit relatives, and further extensive travels as a young adult through Asia, Australia and New Zealand. An early promise to make the ocean part of his life took Gary to Menorca in 2002, where he first discovered spearfishing and became aware of the sport of freediving. Over a number of years he invested in developing his skills, moving in 2014 to Indonesia with his partner, Lynne, to teach freediving full time.
His career took a setback after he experienced serious sinus issues, requiring several operations in 2016 and 2017. Fortunately, he recovered fully and moved to Ibiza, where he and Lynne bought into Freedive Ibiza, a freediving and yoga school, supplementing their seasonal income with tree surgery during the winters.
During the pandemic, Gary and Lynne relocated to Dahab, Egypt, the well-known freediving Mecca, to focus on his own training and career as an athlete. It was during this period that he easily passed the 100m depth mark and became recognised as one of the sport's most promising contenders.
In 2022, Gary’s hard work was acknowledged with an invitation to compete in the elite-level Vertical Blue event in the Bahamas. However, the pressure of training and self-funding his career confronted Gary with mental health issues for the first time. Depression, panic attacks and stress-related symptoms are common among high-level athletes, particularly those in amateur sport where funding is limited to non-existent.
Fortunately, Gary had the courage to realise he needed support and, with the help of a therapist, learned to understand his fears, and how to channel stress into focus. He successfully achieved the British National Record for Constant Weight with a depth of 112m. He is highly in demand as a coach, and is working towards this year’s competition season, where he intends to deepen his own National Record, and significantly narrow the gap between himself and the current World Record of 130m, held by Russian athlete, Alexey Molchanov, son of the incredible Nathalia Molchanova, who died in 2015.
Gary is the subject of a new documentary, currently in production, with award-winning director Runar Jarle Stray Wiik and his production company Ten Thousand Images. He talks openly about mental health issues within sport and among men in particular, hoping to raise awareness of the importance of reaching out for support, and breaking the toxic ‘stiff upper lip’ attitude that causes so many men to suffer in silence.
Gary's recent achievements has secured me an invitation to this year's Vertical Blue competition, the most prestigious Freediving event in the world. Held in Long Island, Bahamas, this competition, known as the Wimbledon of Freediving, is an elite invitation-only event that is the most covered Freediving competition in the world. However, unfortunately British Freediving athletes are self-funded and training and competition costs are substantial. So Gary, and us, are asking for a bit of help to get him to Long Island. Please do check out his Go Fund Me page to find our more.
The Sceptre already adorns Gary's wrist, and we're very much looking forward to him testing the Morar 310 in the coming months - and if you'd like to find out more about the Morar then take a look at our YouTube channel for the Road to Morar series.