Budimir Buda Šobat, a 54-year-old man from Croatia, managed to set a new world record for the longest time breath held underwater, after spending 24 minutes and 33 seconds underwater without coming up for air.
The incredible feat was achieved in a swimming pool, in the town of Sisak, under the supervision of doctors, reporters and supporters, and saw the 54-year-old diver push his body to the limit. After spending a few minutes hyperventilating on pure oxygen, to increase body oxygenation, Šobat spent close to half an hour face down in the pool, without coming up for air.
It sounds like an impossible achievement for a mere mortal, but for the Croatian daredevil it’s the crowning achievement of years of training and conditioning.
A few years ago, Budimir gave up on his passion, bodybuilding, and embraced static diving, soon becoming one of the world’s top 10 static divers. He managed to break the 24-minute barrier three years ago, but this weekend he broke his own Guinness Record (24:11), by spending an insane 24 minutes and 33 seconds underwater.
The current world record for static apnea, a discipline that requires that the respiratory tract be immersed, with the body either in the water or at the surface, sits at 11 minutes and 54 seconds. It was set in 2014 by Branko Petrovic, in Dubai. However, that is the unaided version of the challenge, whereas Šobat’s is a different variation where divers are allowed to breathe pure oxygen for up to 30 minutes prior to the attempt, to increase body oxygenation.
Although the pure oxygen clearly makes a huge difference, as evidenced by the time difference between the two records, 24 minutes and a half is still an insanely long time to spend underwater without coming up for air. It requires years of preparation and training the body to pump oxygenated blood at a very slow rate through the body, as we as to retain oxygen for long periods of time.
Even with the help of pure oxygen preparation, static apnea comes with serious risk for the body, especially the brain, which is deprived of normal levels of oxygen. After about 18 minutes, Šobat starts experiencing involuntary contractions, muscle spasms due to the lack of oxygen, so the 54-year focuses on them and counts them, as a way of retaining consciousness.
Budimir Buda Šobat has always been inspired to push the limits of what is considered physically possible by his 20-year-old daughter, Saša, who has been battling cerebral palsy, autism and epilepsy since childhood. His attempt also had a humanitarian aspect, as it helped raise funds for the children of Sisak, an area severely affected by the powerful earthquake that rocked Croatia in December of 2020.