May 9, 2006 -- Illusionist David Blaine's week underwater ended in dramatic fashion on Monday night -- with a night in the hospital, but without a world record for holding his breath.
Blaine, 33, tried to free himself from 150 pounds of chains and handcuffs while he held his breath for 7 minutes and 8 seconds, short of the world record of 8 minutes, 58 seconds. As a consolation prize, he set a record for the longest time spent underwater -- seven days or almost 177 hours.
Despite the previously unmatched feat, Blaine's trainer, Kirk Krack, said the illusionist was disappointed.
"He felt he let people down," Krack said.
Blaine did not give up without a fight. He had to be physically removed from the water by divers once experts recognized he was losing consciousness.
"We started to see a lot of contractions where just the insane urge to breathe was giving us the precursor to him losing respiratory control," Krack said. Blaine was in a slight state of hypoxia, or lack of oxygen, which led to him becoming unconscious, but he didn't go into a level that would have caused any long-term problems.
Blaine tried to break the world records for holding one's breath after 7½ days of intense stress on his body, including lack of sleep and inadequate nutrition. Complications with his chains also held him back, Krack said.
"First off, when he got into the chains, he was falling backwards," Krack said. "Right away he was off balance. As soon as that starts to happen, you're just trying to balance yourself."
Krack said the ideal body type to successfully accomplish this type of stunt was skinny with big lungs, not Blaine's natural physique.
After his week in the water, Blaine suffered liver damage, the sensation of pins and needles in his feet and hands, some loss of sensation in other parts of his body, and skin rashes.
Krack said the team saw signs of improvement in Blaine as soon as he was removed from the water.
"It's [his skin] recovering, and he'll be fine," Krack said. "Even last night it was getting better. It will take a bit of time."