UK professor appears on TV series

By Drew Teague

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A UK professor was featured Tuesday on National Geographic for one her most terrifying moments as a cave diver.

Stephanie Schwabe, a geology professor, was chosen to participate in National Geographic’s Explorer series in an episode titled “Angel Effect,” a documentary based on the book “Third Man Factor,” in which she was also featured.

According to National Geographic’s website, Explorer looks into the lives of people who have survived extreme situations, like 9/11 or being trapped in a blue hole, and “each felt a mysterious presence that guided them to safety in their time of greatest peril.”

Schwabe was the lone female to be featured in John Geiger’s book, “Third Man Factor,” after someone recommended her to Geiger.

Schwabe said National Geographic bought the rights and wanted to do a documentary, and again she was the only female to be featured.

Schwabe said she tends to put those events out of her mind when she can, but has had to relive the experience since the filming of the reenactment.

“I had actually been in multitudes of trouble, but just this one time that I remember, and I kind of put it out of my head,” Schwabe said. “I think about it, deal with it and then put it away, and now I’ve been reliving this for the past year and a half.”

The incident featured on Tuesday’s episode occurred just a few months after the death of Schwabe’s husband, who dove with her in a cave she had been in about 100 times.

“That’s why I think (the experience) happened, because I was stretched emotionally — very stretched,” she said. “It was a cave site that Rob and I had spend a lot of time in … and this was my first solo dive in a place where he and I had spent a lot of time. It’s not surprising he kind of wandered into my mind at the moment of where I knew I really screwed up.”

The filming took place last summer, Schwabe said, and National Geographic took her to Canada to look at her brain, before heading to San Salvador, Bahamas, where the cave is located.

“They first flew me up to Canada … to have my head wired up,” Schwabe said. “There’s a guy up there who thinks he can actually isolate the region of the brain that actually generates this ‘third man factor.’”

According to the show’s website, “science is taking a closer look, zeroing in on the location and the mechanism in the brain they believe may be responsible for these visions.”

During the filming for the show, Schwabe said she learned a lot about herself in that situation.

“It’s like living a nightmare again and again and again,” Schwabe said. “Part of it was OK, but at the end they interviewed me to get to the heart of things … and I always try to give the camera 100 percent honesty, so it made me revisit some places that I didn’t really want to go again.

“That was my first time in that close a situation, so you learn about yourself — not on a curve, it’s straight up — but I do know that I obviously go into the thrashes of panic.”

The show aired Tuesday on the National Geographic Channel.

For more information about the show, visit its website at