longest breath held voluntarily split image

Most of us have seen how long we can hold our breath underwater - but Budimir Šobat (Croatia) had proven he's unrivalled at the skill. 

On 27 March 2021, he broke the record for the longest time breath held voluntarily (male) with a staggering time of 24 minutes 37.36 seconds.

That's longer than an episode of The Simpsons!

He surpassed the previous record by 34 seconds - a long time when you're not breathing - and probably longer than most people could hold their breath in total! 

Budimir attempted this record in Sisak, Croatia, to promote the city after it was hit by a strong earthquake in December 2020.

"We have a huge problem here in Croatia with earthquakes... the situation is serious at the moment in Croatia," Budimir said when applying for the record. 

longest breath held upwards shot from underwater

"We hope to raise some money for people in need because earthquakes destroy the whole city of Petrinja," he continued. 

Budimir described it as "impossible to train" at the start of this year, due to the earthquake damage. 

However, the 56-year-old freediver was determined to break this record and persevered with his training as soon as he could. 

Of course, it took more than a few weeks to perfect his breathing technique and train for this record.

longest breath held upwards shot from underwater floating

"This record did not come by accident. I put all my effort in it. I was preparing myself for this record for more than 3 years.  I have trained 6 days a week."

"This journey is tough and full of unexpected situations where you can easily get stuck," Budimir said.

Despite the difficulties and dangers that come along with attempting a record like this, Budimir is driven by the thought of his daughter.

"The greatest motivation of all is my 21 years old daughter Saša who has autism. My results are giving me the media space and then I can speak about autism awareness."

However when Budimir was actually attempting the record, he was focused on one thing - his heartbeat. 

view of Budimir floating in the pool

"While I am doing my maximum static apnea I have my eyes closed and all I am focused on is to try to hear my heartbeat. Once I heard it I became calm and ready to fight the time." 

And fight the time he did! 24 minutes 37.36 seconds later he had secured a new world record. 

Before the attempt, Budimir hyperventilated with pure oxygen - the guidelines for this record allow this for up to 30 minutes before the attempt starts. 

What makes Budimir's achievement even more remarkable is that he only started freediving when he was 48.

longest breath held three stopwatches

"I am addicted to training of any kind so I have no problem with motivation and I never stop dreaming about achieving the top results in spite of my age. Now I have proved that everything is possible if you are strong and dedicated."

"In fact, my age gave me a benefit of experience to stay calm at the critical moments.

"Of course," he adds, "you have to be a little bit mad." 

But what does it take to be a freediver?   

Budimir believes that tackling the mental challenges that come with sport is most important. 

"Freediving is first of all a mental sport. If you can be stronger than your mind you will succeed."

His top three tips are:

  1. Never skip the training.
  2. It's better to be over trained then out of shape. 
  3. Don’t just do it. Do it right no matter what.

Budimir celebrating after attempt

The previous record for the longest time breath held voluntarily (male) was 24 min 3.45 secs, achieved by Aleix Segura Vendrell (Spain), in Barcelona, Spain, on 28 February 2016.

The record has come a long way since the first documented attempt by Robert Foster (USA), who voluntarily held his breath for 13 min 42.5 sec under 3.05 m (10 ft) of water in a swimming pool in San Rafael, California, on 15 March 1959.