Relaxed Nevatt goes breathless to set NZ record

02:11, Jun 10 2014
DEEP DIVE: Palmerston North woman Kathryn Nevatt holds her breath for 7 minutes 40s and sets a New Zealand record.

Palmerston North architect Kathryn Nevatt, 34, held her breath for 7 minutes and 40 seconds at Porirua over the weekend to set a new New Zealand record in the freediving discipline of static apnea.

She bettered her own record by six seconds, ranking her first in the world so far this year and third in the all-time rankings.

Nevatt also won the overall event, completing 143 metres dynamic with fins and 152m dynamic without fins - events where the diver swims as far as possible (multiple lengths) under water on a single breath wearing a monofin (like a mermaid's tail) or doing a kind of breaststroke.

"I didn't expect to be ready to break a record at this competition. It's the start of our indoor season and I have not yet reached my peak, but the static felt great, I was really relaxed and clear-headed the whole way through and was able to stay calm and just enjoy being in the water," said Nevatt.

Whanganui's Tania Rounthwaite, 40, who trains with Nevatt in the Palmerston North-based Breathtakers Freediving Club, was second in the competition, ahead of all the men, and set a personal best in dynamic with fins of 151m.

"I'm thrilled to finally push past a barrier that has been hindering me for a while and add almost a length to my personal best," Rounthwaite said.

Freediving is a niche sport in New Zealand with multiple Kiwi world champions. Divers calm themselves prior to their dive and during the dive experience a "mammalian dive response" which slows the heart rate and forces blood back to the vital organs to assist the body in conserving oxygen.

Divers must surface conscious from their dive. There were no blackouts during the competition, but loss of consciousness can be serious and clubs teach safety.

The Breathtakers Freediving Club were offering an introductory night at the Lido at 5.30pm today. Nevatt said most beginners can hold their breath between two and four minutes with good instruction. Bookings to Paul on 027 284 0053 or email


Manawatu Standard