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NZ Breath Hold Record Blown Away

NEWS RELEASE - 10 February 2004


Auckland freediver Ant Williams has blown away the New Zealand static breathhold record this morning.

The sport psychologist held his breath underwater at the Philips Aquatic Centre pool in Mt Albert for 6:08:93, blitzing by almost 59 seconds the previous national record of 5 minutes and 10 seconds set in December 2002.

The 31-year-old, who only took up the sport two and a half years ago while in France and is a member of the No Bubbles Freedive Club in Auckland, said he felt calm and in control throughout the attempt.

"I got a bit cold towards the end and shivering uses up oxygen unnecessarily, but I hung in and it feels wonderful. I'm ecstatic...but I won't be hopping into a swimming pool for a month at least!"

Williams' previous attempt on the record eight weeks ago was curtailed when he fainted after several minutes in a pool that was too hot for him. This time, he attempted the record in familiar surroundings at his main training venue and he wasn't as hyped.

"I tried not to put too much pressure on myself, but it's still a big relief to have smashed the record after I blacked at during my last attempt."

For today's record attempt his regular training partner, Reid Quinlan, coordinated safety, but a paramedic on stand-by wasn't needed.

With the New Zealand static record under his weight belt, Williams will now spend time training and competing in Europe so he can benchmark himself against the world's best.

Globally, breathholding has a huge following. At the last World Championships more than 25 countries competed. The Europeans are the world's best, but the Canadians are becoming increasingly competitive.

There are three different types of breathhold disciplines - static or pure apnéa (French for 'without oxygen'), dynamic (how far you can swim underwater in a pool) and constant weight (how far you can descend into the depths of a lake or ocean).

Williams heads to Turkey on March 25 to attend a Master Freediver Invitational Camp with the world's best coach Rudi Castineyra. He will stay on and compete in Europe for a few weeks before returning home. He then hopes to head back to Europe for the Bios Freediver Classic on June 19, the premier event in the world this year, testing the world's elite in all three breathhold disciplines.

Williams now holds official New Zealand records in all three breathhold disciplines.

As well as today's static record, his dynamic record is 130 metres (he's done 160 metres in training) and his freshwater constant weight record is 45 metres (he's done 50 metres in training). He will tackle the saltwater constant weight record in April following his European experience and hopes to reach 60 metres.

The top static breathhold records in the top countries are:

1. Austria (Herbert Nische 8:06 World Record)
2. France (Stephanie Mifsud 8:04)
3. Denmark (Stig Avall Severinsen 7:23)
4. Belgium (Nicolas Druine 7:14)
5. Canada (Luc Gosselin 7:14)
6. Germany (Herbert Maier 7:02)

Williams' new New Zealand record of 6:08:93 eclipses the Portugal record of Manuel Lima (at 5:29) and United Kingdom effort of 5:48 set by Lee Donnelly.


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