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Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Blaine's Bubble Bursts

Street magician fails in latest record bid

Blaine managed to hold his breath underwater for seven minutesAmerican magician David Blaine has failed in his bid to set a new world record for holding his breath underwater.

Blaine was trying to free himself from chains and handcuffs while bidding to break the record of eight minutes and 58 seconds. The stunt in New York, following a week-long endurance challenge underwater, was shown on live TV.

But, with his face contorted in pain and bubbles rising to the surface, divers went in to release him from the chains and pull him out after just over seven minutes.

After being given oxygen, Blaine addressed the large crowd that had gathered around the 8ft snow globe-like tank on the plaza of Lincoln Centre for the Performing Arts in Manhattan.

"I am humbled so much by the support of everyone from New York City and from all over the world," he said. "This was a very difficult week, but you all made it fly by with your strong support and your energy. Thank you so much, everybody. ... I love you all.

After a 100-minute television preamble that showed his training techniques - including holding his breath in a tank of sharks - Blaine had sucked in his last breath before going under. Kirk Krack, his trainer and a diving expert, offered encouragement as Blaine remained nearly still for the first five minutes of his dive.

Then, methodically, he removed two of his handcuffs and was trying to remove chains that held him before the divers came in to save him.

Murat Günel, who heads Blaine's medical team and is an associate professor of neurosurgery at Yale University School of Medicine, said before the attempt: "He is pushing his body insanely to the limits.

Günel and other medical experts had been monitoring Blaine's condition 24 hours a day from a nearby tent filled with medical equipment and machines.

Günel said the challenge had taken a toll on the magician's body, including liver damage, the sensation of pins and needles in his feet and hands, some loss of sensation elsewhere, and rashes all over his body, which glistened pale white in the tank.

Picture courtesy of BBC News online.

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