Stephen Keenan: The Tragic Fate of the Renowned Diver Explained

By Louie Fecou
Published: July 20, 2023 (Last updated: 2 weeks ago)
Stephen Keenan
Stephen Keenan

Stephen Keenan found a love for free diving back in 2009. He was born and raised in Glasnevin, near Dublin, and discovered the sport while on holiday, leading him and two friends to set up his own school in 2015. Stephen would launch Dahab Divers in and around the popular diving area known as The Blue Hole.

This well-known sinkhole is around 120 meters deep and leads to an arch that sports participants often try to reach. In freediving, it is also known as the divers’ cemetery.

Stephen would become highly qualified in all areas of the extreme sport and was so well respected in the field that he would become chief of safety at various freediving events such as Vertical Blue Freediving Competitions.

Stephen Keenan was the safety diver accompanying Alessia Zecchini of Italy, the world record holder for depth achieved in a single breath with a dive of 104 meters last May. Alessia was attempting the difficult dive and swim through the underwater area known as the arch, and Stephen was behind her in case she got into trouble.

However, as the documentary, The Deepest Breath, details, a series of small, overlooked details would conspire to bring about a tragic end to the story.

Stephen ascended from the dive but succumbed to an in-water blackout as he approached the last ten meters of the climb to the water’s surface. Stephen and his diving partner would surface, but there was a crucial delay in getting him from the water to the hospital.

Stephen would die while in transit to the medical center.

How did Stephen Keenan die?

Circumstances on the day meant that there were small complications regarding the events of the dive that day. High winds that move currents in the water can push divers off course, and this may have happened on this tragic dive, and the poor visibility may also have caused problems. The most dangerous part of the dive can be the return to the surface.

Stephen would aid Alessia when she became disorientated on the dangerous dive. Still, during his return to the surface, he would blackout and tragically not respond to efforts to revive him.


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