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  Longest breath-holding - world record set by David Blaine

[May 2] CHICAGO, USA--Magician David Blaine has set a world record for the longest breath-holding, by holding his breath for 17 minutes and four seconds on Oprah Winfrey's US TV.

   "A lifelong dream," a relaxed-looking Blaine told Winfrey immediately after setting the record. "I can't believe that I did that."
  (enlarge photo)    

I feel great, the silver wetsuit-clad American said as he was pulled to the surface. I actually started to doubt I was going to make it because Id never done it with such a high heart rate.

Blaine said he had managed it by staying in a meditative state which was helped by the stage lights reflecting off the sphere.

   The feat was broadcast live during "The Oprah Winfrey Show" and the studio audience cheered as divers pulled Blaine from a water-filled sphere. He looked relaxed afterward and said the record was "a lifelong dream."   

    Photo: In this photo provided by Harpo Productions, Inc., magician David Blaine is shown inside a sphere where he set a new world record for breath-holding Wednesday at 17 minutes and 4.4 seconds, during a live telecast of "The Oprah Winfrey Show," in Chicago.   
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 Photo: David Blaine sits a top a sphere where he set a new world record for breath-holding, Wednesday, April 30, 2008, at 17 minutes and 4.4 seconds, during David Blaine sits a top a sphere where he set a new world record for breath-holding, Wednesday, April 30, 2008, at 17 minutes and 4.4 seconds, during a live telecast of "The Oprah Winfrey Show," in Chicago.George Burns / Harpo Productions   (enlarge photo)  

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 Magician David Blaine poses for a photo Tuesday, April 29, 2008, in Chicago. Blaine will attempt to break a record for holding one's breath under water Wednesday, April 30 during a live broadcast of "The Oprah Winfrey Show." The current record is 16 minutes and 32 seconds; Blaine plans to breathe pure oxygen for about 20 minutes before entering a water-filled sphere. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green) (enlarge photo)

Before the latest attempt inside a sphere filled with 1,800 gallons of water, Blaine spent 23 minutes inhaling pure oxygen, packing his lungs with extra oxygen just before the breathing tubes were removed.
    Up to 30 minutes of so-called "oxygen hyperventilation" is allowed under guidelines.

An average person in good health can hold their breath for about two minutes, but with even small amounts of practice it is possible to increase that time dramatically. "The body can be trained," explains Dr. Ralph Potkin, a pulmonary specialist who worked with Blaine in the weeks leading up to his recent feat.

After Blaine filled his lungs with pure oxygen, his heart rate remained at 130 during the second minute of the breath-hold and then stayed above 100 for much of the time. It was 124 in the 15th minute. The higher the heart rate, the more quickly oxygen is consumed, and the more painful the carbon dioxide buildup.

But apparently his CO2 tolerance training (repeated breath holds every morning) was just enough to compensate. In the last minute his heart rate became erratic and he got concerned enough to start rising from the bottom of the water-filled sphere, but he kept his head underwater more than a half minute longer than the old record of 16:32.

Blaine has said he was fascinated by holding his breath since he was a child, using the skill to excel in swimming races at a YMCA in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, only needing to breathe when turning at the wall for another lap.

The previous record was 16 minutes and 32 seconds, set Feb. 10 by Switzerland's Peter Colat.

The record without the pure oxygen, which Blaine failed to break during an attempt last year in Manhattan's Lincoln Center, is 8 minutes and 58 seconds.

 With or without pure oxygen, holding your breath is a difficult and dangerous pasttime even for elite athletes. When not done carefully, it can lead to drowning, or to potential tissue damage in the heart, brains or lungs. Preliminary results from Dr. Ralph Potkin's research into apnea's long-term effects show some abnormal brain scans among young, extreme free divers.

David Blaine's previous stunts include being buried alive for a week in a see-through coffin, spending more than a month suspended in a box by the River Thames in London and being encased in a block of ice for 63 hours.

Next, Blaine said he plans to try to break the world record for staying awake. The current record is 11.5 days, he said. However, both World Record Academy and Guinness said they no longer acknowledges such attempts because of health concerns.


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