Saturday marked the 100th anniversary of an incredible act of strength, endurance, and willpower accomplished by Stathis Hatzis, a sponge diver hailing from Symi, Greece.
The story unfolds like this: In mid-July of 1913, the Italian battleship Regina Margueritta was passing through near the island of Karpathos and found itself stuck when its anchor got fouled up along the seafloor. Knowing that the Italians needed to secure a line to their anchor, Hatzis spent three days attempting dive after dive trying to find the anchor.
As a sponge diver, Hatzis had experience in diving much deeper than most swimmers are accustomed to, in order to reach those natural sponges that live on seafloors. Some of his dives would reach 100 meters in depth as he searched for the anchor. He finally located it after many tries and was able to set up for his last dive to secure a line to the anchor.
His famous dive lasted over 3-and-a-half minutes and reached a depth of 88 meters. When he returned to the surface, blood was running from his nose and he was nearly unconscious from exhaustion and lack of oxygen.
The Italian crew and navy felt a deep gratitude toward Hatzis and rewarded him with an honorary gold medal and the gift of free passage for life aboard any Italian vessel.
In his later years, Hatzis developed cancer while living in America and had to return to Greece, where he would pass away at the age of 58. Yet 100 years later, we remember the incredible physical feat of a man who dove like he was a dolphin and the deep water was his second home.