Thailand – Australia – United Kingdom

Brit diver’s world record four-and-a-half minute breath holding attempt

Sara Butler (pic:Adam Butler)


She’s known as Dolphin Girl – the diver who can hold her breath for an incredible four-and-a-half minutes.

She already has the world record for diving 90 metres deep. And next week Londoner Sara Campbell aims to go even deeper with her amazing monofin.

But that’s just the start of it… this summer she will become the first woman ever to “freedive” one of the world’s most awe-inspiring and challenging plunges – The Arch in Dahab, Egypt.

It is a huge archway, or tunnel, connecting the Blue Hole – a massive abyss – with the open ocean. To complete the dive Sara, 35, must first swim down 55 metres to the tunnel entrance.

After 10 metres the human body is no longer buoyant so she will use a “divebomb” technique to plummet further into the deep. She will then aim to take the shortest 35 metre route through the tunnel and then up to the surface threeand- a-half minutes later, swimming a total of 145m (475ft) – almost the height of Blackpool Tower.

Sara, who is just 4ft 11in and weighs only seven-and-a-half stone, will have to use every ounce of her strength – assisted by her £300 custom-made monofin – to ensure she doesn’t sink.

“Imagine holding your breath for three-and-a-half minutes,” she said. “Now imagine doing it while physically working your body at its limits, at depth.

Remaining calm is the only thing that will ensure I survive.”

The Arch has claimed the lives of countless scuba divers, and has been conquered by just a handful of male freedivers before.

Medical expert Dr Marios Anastasiadis last night explained the risks Sara will take. “Most normal people struggle to hold their breath for much longer than a minute, without exertion,” he said. “Any longer and they risk unconsciousness through oxygen starvation.

“Drowning is a real risk for Sara. At 50 metres her lungs will shrink. She will feel pressure on her whole body.

It’s not just lack of oxygen, it’s also the fact the water is cold.

“She will start to feel the effects of dizziness, lack of concentration and her vision may blur. If she loses consciousness she will die.”

Sara, who is a three-time world record holder in freediving, said: “It will be a huge challenge for me. It is very dangerous.”

Incredibly, she only started competitive freediving nine months before setting her records last October.

Sara added: “When I’m at 90 metres without oxygen I feel utterly at home. My body and the water do the dive for me – I just relax and surrender to this magical space. Freediving is a totally natural expression of the human potential under water. It is a tangible link to our past as sea mammals.”

Sara’s £300 custommade monofin is made of carbon fibre with a rubber insert for her feet. It weighs around six kilos and is one metre wide.

She holds the world record for diving 90 metres without air tanks – as deep as Big Ben is high. Next week she plans to go even deeper… in training for The Arch.

Most people struggle to hold their breath for more than 60 seconds. Sara can hold hers for four-and-a-half minutes.

‘I’ll have to stay calm or I will die’


One response

  1. Her name is Sara Campbell and can hold her breath for over 5 and a half minutes! For up to date information visit my website for all world records or

    October 1, 2008 at 11:08 pm