Underwater Stunt Brings Grueling Pain for David Blaine

ByABC News via logo
May 7, 2006, 10:39 AM

May 7, 2006 — -- David Blaine has made it to day seven of his eight-day stay submerged in a tank in New York City's Lincoln Center, but it has been far from easy.

The week underwater has left the illusionist -- who plans to cap off his stunt by holding his breath underwater for a record-breaking nine minutes while he frees himself from 150 pounds of chains and handcuffs -- in terrible pain.

"I think the time has started to really take its toll on my body. It has started to become horrific in many, many ways," Blaine said. "Every muscle doesn't just ache, it feels like a sharp, shooting pain, like a knife being stabbed."

Blaine said his skin, which has shriveled and pruned due to the water, hurts everywhere, too. His muscles have begun to atrophy, which he says worries him not just for the event's finale, but for "everything after that as well."

"I don't think it's permanent, but I've never felt this kind of pain in a stunt before."

Blaine has gained world-wide fame by creating marathon, death-defying stunts. In 1999, he buried himself alive in a see-through coffin for seven days. A year later, he was frozen in a block of ice for 63 hours. And, in 2002, he perched himself 90 feet above the ground for 36 hours.

He has trained harder for this underwater exploit than for any of those previous endeavors. He worked out with Navy SEALs, and dropped 50 pounds off his 6-foot-1 frame so his body would require less oxygen. During his ordeal he is being given liquid nourishment through a tube.

Surviving submersion in the 2,000-gallon tank is only part of the challenge for Blaine. In the beginning of the week, Blaine was practicing to break the record for holding his breath. Now, however, he thinks he is too weak to pull it off.

"I was basically doing breath holds on my own up 'til recently but now my long, everything, feels weaker than normal," he said.

But Blaine says he still believes he can pull off his grand exit tomorrow night with the whole world watching.

"I usually pull through at the end with some sort of adrenaline rush," he said.