Sink or swim time for Martinborough freediver
Kiwis are great at holding their breath - so says freediver Kathryn Nevatt, who can do without oxygen for more than seven minutes.
Today the Martinborough architect will attempt to break the women's freediving world record in the dynamic apnea without fins, set at 160 metres in Denmark in 2009 by Russian Natalia Molchanova.
Nevatt is confident she can beat the record. Unofficially she already has, with a swim of 163 metres.
To officially hit the mark she will need to stay underwater for 6 lengths of a Masterton pool without taking a breath, while being watched by Los Angeles-based International Association for Development of Apnea judge Grant Graves.
Masterton District Council is the major sponsor of the event and has flown Mr Graves from the US to adjudicate with other judges from around New Zealand.
Councillor Gary Caffell said if the public event went well Masterton could become a regular fixture on the national and international freediving calendar.
New Zealanders excel in competitive breath-holding disciplines. Hawke's Bay-raised William Trubridge holds the world record in the free immersion and constant weight without fins disciplines, and was the first person to break the 100m depth barrier unassisted.
Wellingtonian Dave Mullins will also be in Masterton today trying to break his own men's world record of 218m in the dynamic apnea without fins.
Nevatt's ritual before the big swims involves meditating in her wetsuit in the pool as she slips into a cocoon of positive thoughts, inner calm and a sleep-like trance where tension is washed away.
"I visualise my dive. Then I just essentially try to go to sleep by slowing my heart rate and reducing anxiety and being very relaxed."
Expectations are that even if she beats the record today she will continue trying to set new marks over the weekend and into next week.
Today 10.15am to 11am
Tomorrow 10.15am to noon and 4.45pm to 6pm
Sunday, 9.45am to 11.30am
Tuesday, 10.15am to 11am
Wednesday, 10.30am to 11.15am
The Dominion Post