Wandsworth freediver Sara Campbell fails in fresh world record bid
Wandsworth freediver Sara Campbell has shattered the world record by diving 96m (314ft) below the surface of the ocean on a single breath.
Sara, nicknamed Mighty Mouse because of her petite 4ft 11ins frame, spent three minutes and 36 seconds under water during her dive in the Vertical Blue competition in the Bahamas last Thursday, April 2, pushing the boundaries of human endurance to new levels.
However, on Tuesday, April 7, she failed in her attempt to become the first woman in human history to dive 100m below sea level in one breath.
The diminutive diver reached her 100m target and grabbed the tag but failed the strict protocol tests on arriving back at the surface.
Sara looked strong as she free-floated through the last ten metres briefly lost consciousness on the surface, coming around just seconds later.
For a dive to qualify under official freediving rules, participants must answer some basic questions immediately after re-surfacing to prove they have maintained the mental focus required for the sport.
But determined Sara will try again on Friday, April 10, because there are still several days of competition left.
Sara said: "I'm not disheartened by my dive today, quite the opposite. Black-outs are a part of the sport and they give me vital feedback as to where I need to improve.
"Clearly I have the capacity to go even deeper, but need to work on my technique, strength and speed back to the surface, as well as hook breathing - in order to take the next step.
"Of course I don't have time to train all of that before Friday when I hope to go again, so I'll be focusing on the hook-breathing and hoping my body can do the rest."
When diving on standard air at these depths, divers experience a state of consciousness similar to alcohol intoxication or nitrous oxide inhalation called nitrogen narcosis which can impair decision-making and in some cases cause a lose of consciousness.
The depth she dived to last Thursday was the equivalent of the height of Big Ben’s clock tower.
Sara plunged the first 60m in 43 seconds before taking six seconds to find the tag qualifying the dive.
The 37-year-old emerged from the Atlantic with a new “constant weight” women’s world record - the most sought-after record because the diver must use only a monofin and their own power.
Sara said: “I’m delighted to have reclaimed my record, but 100m has always been my goal.
“[Last week] wasn’t about the number behind the dive, it was about proving to myself, and the world, that I have what it takes to be the best, to come back from real adversity and show that anything is possible if you can just set your mind to it.
“But this was by far the toughest world record I've earned.”
Sara shocked the diving community by setting three freediving world records within 48 hours after only nine months of competition.
In “incredible” year in 2007 saw the former yoga instructor claim three world records and become the world champion of breathhold diving.
However she was forced take a break from the death-defying extreme sport after her mother’s death last summer.
Sara is the smallest freediver on the circuit and is something of a physiological phenomenon because her lungs are about 22 per cent larger than average - something which has baffled medical experts.
The location for the Vertical Blue competition is Dean's Blue Hole, the world's deepest steep-walled depression in the sea floor, plunging 663 feet (202m) to the bottom of the ocean.
Freedivers use a “mammalian dive reflex” which sustains the body underwater by helping divers withstand deep water pressures.
Like other freedivers, Sara practices special breathing exercises before she plunges underwater which lowers her heart rate to reduce the amount of oxygen needed by the body.