Let’s start with a bit of a disclaimer: German Tom Sietas, 35, has a lung capacity 20 percent larger than average for a person his size. But still, if you added 20 percent to the longest time you’ve held your breath under water would you reach 22 minutes and 22 seconds?
Sietas, competing in Changsha, China alongside former underwater breath-holding world record holder Ricardo Bahaia of Brazil, set what appears to be a new Guinness World Records mark by defeating Bahia’s 20:21 time by over two minutes, according to the Daily Mail.
The pair were dropped into clear side-by-side tanks containing water cooled to 41 degrees Fahrenheit to help them relax and calm their bodies. The temperature was slowly raised and by the time they were done, it had hit 95 degrees.
This isn’t the first time Sietas has set a record for either static apnea (a fancy term for holding your breath for a really long time) or dynamic apnea (swimming a distance while holding your breath). He started competing in the events after a scuba instructor remarked on his unusual ability to hold his breath.
Since 2000, the German has continued to set new marks. He normally preps for an event by not eating for at least five hours prior in an effort to slow his metabolism and then filling his lungs with pure oxygen, which can add more than 10 minutes to his time (he once held the record for static apnea without pure oxygen at 10:12). For now, though, Sietas owns the record — which means he can breathe a bit easier for a while.