Kiwi attempts underwater swimming record
Sunday 4 Nov 2012 7:01 p.m.
By Alex Bourn
A New Zealander has narrowly missed out on the world free-diving record for swimming underwater.
Despite today's disappointment, New Zealand has been described as having some of the best free-divers in the world.
Kathryn Nevatt can hold her breath for seven minutes.
To win the free-diving world record she had to stay underwater for six lengths of a 25m pool, while being watched by adjudicator Grant Graves, who flew in from Los Angeles to judge the attempts.
“We are really looking for how they start, how they swim along in the pool, whether they touch the walls as they turn, making sure they don't break the surface, and then how they surface,” says Mr Graves.
Nevatt broke the current record of 163m held by Russian Natalia Malchanova, but was disqualified for briefly losing consciousness during the swim.
And that is strictly against the rules.
The 33-year-old will try again on Tuesday, and Judge Graves is confident she'll break the record. He says New Zealanders have a real knack for holding their breath underwater.
“It's quite a popular sport in Europe, but Kiwis are very dominant,” he says. “You have five really top athletes out in the world and several others who are getting close to being top as well.”
Nevatt relaxes before every big swim by meditating. That way she's less likely to panic when submerged.
“Your heart rate slows down significantly during the dive to conserve oxygen,” says Nevatt. “You have a bit of an urge to breathe as the CO2 builds up, which can be a bit uncomfortable, but with training you can learn to deal with that.”
“Most people walking down the street would think 45 seconds would be hard to hold your breath, but in a short period of a couple of hours, they can get up to three-and-a-half, four minutes learning how to use the dive reflex and get their body to relax and understand what its doing,” says Mr Graves.
Mr Graves will be at the pool until Tuesday available to assess anyone who wants to jump in the pool and have a go with the underwater pros.