Friday, July 19, 2024

What is the Freediving World Record for Holding Your Breath


For most people, there is a fascination that starts as a child in the pool trying to your longest held breath.

With this fascination continuing into adulthood for many of us we often ask “what is the world record for holding your breath” and we look to help answer that for you.

From the Japanese Ama and Korean Haenyeo women who foraged for pearls and shellfish to the Bajau tribes who hunt underwater for food and creatures, freediving is known to have been around for at least 8,000 years. But as a modern sport, freediving has only been recognized since 1949, when Italian air force captain Raimondo Bucher dived to 30m (98ft) on a bet (and won 50,000 lire). As freediving became more popular as a sport, freedivers created organizations to ratify and record records for breath-holding times, horizontal swimming distances, and depth.

Static performances (the freediving term for a breath-hold that is performed without any movement at the water’s surface) are exceptionally lengthy since an absence of movement means that the body consumes its oxygen supply at a much slower rate. The science behind how humans can hold their breath for so long explains how our bodies are designed to adapt underwater. Still, there is no doubt that it takes an endless amount of training, time, and dedication to reach the current world record breath hold listed below.

What is the World Record for Holding Your Breath
What is the World Record for Holding Your Breath

What is the World Record for Holding Your Breath

Guinness World Records (pure oxygen assistance)

The Guinness World Records organization ratified these records, and the people who made these records did so by breathing 100% oxygen for some time before starting their breath-hold. Since their bodies were much more saturated with oxygen than if they were breathing the air around them (which consists of only 21% oxygen), unbelievably long breath-hold times are possible.

  • Men: 24 min 37 sec – Budimir Šobat (HRV) in 2021 in Sisak, Croatia
  • Women: 18 min 32 sec – Karoline Mariechen Meyer (BRA) in 2009 in Florianopolis, Brazil
  • Notable: 17 min 4 sec – Illusionist David Blaine (USA) in 2008 on the Oprah Winfrey show

You can watch David Blaine’s successful Guinness World Record attempt on the Oprah Winfrey show below

AIDA World Records

These records were ratified by the International Association for the Development of Apnea (AIDA), an international organization whose primary focus is freediving as a sport. After athletes set an AIDA World Record, their urine is tested according to World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) standards.

  • Men: 11 min 35 sec – Stéphane Mifsud (FRA) in 2009 at his hometown swimming pool in Hyeres, France
  • Women: 9 min 2 sec – Natalia Molchanova (RUS) at the 2013 Individual AIDA Pool World Championship

You can watch Natalia Molchanova’s static AIDA World Record made in Belgrade, Serbia below.

CMAS World Records

These records were ratified by the Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques (CMAS), an international organization dedicated to underwater sports. After athletes set a CMAS World Record, their urine is tested according to World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) standards.

  • Men: 10 min 45 sec – Branko Petrovic (SRB) in 2017 in Subotica, Serbia
  • Women: 8 min 53 sec – Veronika Dittes (AUT) in 2017 at the 5th Apnea Indoor Open European Championship

Watch Veronika Dittes set a new CMAS World Record in Cagliari, Italy in the video below.

Kristina Zvaritch
Kristina Zvaritch
Kris is an AIDA/Molchanovs Freediving Instructor, freelance copywriter, and one of the founders of SaltyMind Freediving on the little island of Xiao Liuqiu, Taiwan. She has written 100+ articles centered around freediving for and co-authored the Molchanovs Wave 4 - Competitive Freediving manual. When Kris isn't writing or teaching freediving, you can find her floating on a wave at the beach or struggling to learn Mandarin on land.