Alumnus & Commencement Speaker Makes History

After climbing the highest peak on Earth, Victor Vescovo ’84 has now explored deeper in the ocean than any human in history. On April 28, 2019, as part of his historic Five Deeps expedition, Vescovo piloted his submersible DSV Limiting Factor down 35,853 feet into the Mariana Trench’s Challenger Deep in the Pacific Ocean. The expedition broke numerous exploration records, including the deepest dive by any human in history, surpassing the previous record of 35,787 feet set by film director James Cameron in 2012.

From April 28 through May 5, the Limiting Factor completed four dives into the Challenger Deep (two of which were completed solo by Vescovo, including his record-setting dive). The dives provided the expedition team with a valuable look at life nearly seven miles beneath the ocean’s surface. Vescovo and his team spent hours exploring the bottom of the basin, collecting video footage and biological samples. A fifth dive, piloted again by Vescovo, explored the nearby Sirena Deep and focused on geological, biological, and video survey and collection in the trench basin. Click here for a full list of the records set by Vescovo and his team.

“It is almost indescribable how excited all of us are about achieving what we just did,” said Vescovo after arriving in Guam after the completion of the dives. “This submarine and its mother ship, along with its extraordinarily talented expedition team, took marine technology to an unprecedented new level by diving – rapidly and repeatedly – into the deepest, harshest, area of the ocean. We feel like we have just created, validated, and opened a powerful door to discover and visit any place, any time, in the ocean – which is 90 percent unexplored.”

Shortly after announcing his historic dive, and before embarking on the final leg of his Five Deeps expedition, Vescovo will return to his alma mater to deliver the Commencement Address to St. Mark’s Class of 2019 on May 24. Throughout his adventures, Vescovo has maintained his close association with St. Mark’s, proudly wearing a St. Mark’s patch on his jacket during the Challenger Deep dives and even carrying a custom School flag to the summit of Mt. Everest and to the South Pole.

Vescovo’s exploration of the Challenger Deep marks the second to last dive of his historic Five Deeps expedition, which has included dives to the deepest points of the Atlantic Ocean (Puerto Rico Trench), Southern Ocean (South Sandwich Trench), and the Indian Ocean (Java Trench). The Five Deeps will conclude in the near-freezing waters of Arctic Ocean’s Molloy Trench. The entire expedition is being filmed for a Discovery Channel documentary series that will air later this year.

On Tuesday, May 14, WFAA TV visited St. Mark's and sat in on a Life Sciences class taught by John Mead, Eugene McDermott Master Teaching Chair in Science, to hear how Marksmen are reacting to the news. Watch their report here.

After graduating from St. Mark’s, Vescovo earned degrees from Stanford University, MIT, and Harvard Business School. He co-founded the private equity firm Insight Equity and spent more than two decades as an operational intelligence officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve. In 2017, Vescovo became the 53rd person in history to complete the Explorers Grand Slam, which includes climbing the Seven Summits and skiing to both the North and South Poles.
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    • Photos courtesy Reeve Jolliffe/Five Deeps Expedition

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St. Mark’s School of Texas is a private, nonsectarian college-preparatory boys’ day school for students in grades 1 through 12, located in Dallas, Texas. St. Mark’s aims to prepare young men to assume leadership and responsibility in a competitive and changing world.