May 8, 2006

Blaine fails to break underwater record in New York

By Martinne Geller

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stuntman David Blaine failed to break
the world record for holding his breath underwater on Monday,
falling nearly two minutes short of the record.

After Blaine spent seven minutes and 8 seconds underwater
without any breathing apparatus, he blacked out and trainer
Kirk Krack sent two divers into the tank to free him from
shackles attached to his ankles.

According to the Web site for the ABC television network,
which broadcast the stunt live, the world record for holding
one's breath underwater is eight minutes, 58 seconds.

When he was lifted to the edge of an acrylic sphere where
he lived underwater for a week, an emotional Blaine told the
crowd: "I am humbled so much by the support of everybody from
New York City and from all over the world. This was a very
difficult week, but you made it fly by with your strong spirit
and your energy. I thank you all and I love you all."

To prepare for the stunt, Blaine, 33, lived in the
water-filled, 8-foot sphere for a week. ABC said he spent about
177 hours in the tank.

Before trying for the record, 150 pounds of chains were
attached to his Blaine's body. He managed to free himself from
all the chains attached to his wrists before the rescuers
entered the sphere.

Murat Gunel, Blaine's doctor, said he advised the
modern-day Houdini against performing the escape, which he said
could cause a blackout, a heart attack, a stroke, or nerve
damage in the fingers.

In previous stunts, Blaine has spent 44 days in a box
suspended over the River Thames in London and 61 hours encased
in a block of ice as well as one week buried in a coffin.

Krack, who is also a free-diving expert, said Blaine was
disappointed he didn't set a new record. The stuntman was
suffering from extreme fatigue, but did not appear to have
sustained any brain damage, Krack said.

Blaine was taken to a New York hospital to undergo tests.

Robert Martinez from the Bronx, who grew up watching Blaine
perform street magic, said, "In a way I'm disappointed, but his
health comes first. It was very exciting."