Proof GWR for 22 minute breath hold VIDEO:

GWR Validated (22 mins)

GWR for ice dive (236 feet) VIDEO:

GWR Validated (Ice Dive):

5 Questions

1) How do you train to get your body and mind ready for these extreme records?

2) What do you think about as you are holding your breath for that long?

3) Can you suffer from brain damage holding your breath for that long?

4) Why do you do these extreme records?

5) How do I get started in freediving and breath holding?

Front Page - Thank You Reddit - You Are The Best. Keep Your Question Coming. I am doing the best to answer them, but I am being FLOODED right now! And soon have to go do some training in the ocean! But this sure has been fun! I would love to come back some other time...

Been a long awesome day with you all! Literally impossible to answer all of your questions. Keep posting your questions and sharing the conversation with your network, and I will get back to answering more tomorrow! Thanks for your understanding! This was really fun!

UPDATE 11/13/12: Thanks so much for an awesome time here on Reddit! I am planning to do this again sometime in the future! Have an awesome rest of the week!

UPDATE 11/16/12: Due to the sheer amount of attention this post has gotten online, I will be spending time this weekend answering more of your questions. Right now, my book on amazon is sold out, but if you would like to download it immediately, please go to, and on the front page you will see it available (Ebook).


UPDATE 11/18/12: I´m promised;) - Will answer some questions now but running out of time. Instead I have made a special Thank YOU video (LINK BELOW). I hope this will bring new value to YOU and the rest of the Reddit "family";) - We will announce the winners here on Reddit after the expiration date Nov. 25th 2012. AND remember - that winner might very well be Y-O-U;) - Enjoy the video below and make sure not to miss the important details in the end. Thank you all once again - this has been GREAT and it would be fun to come back;)

Friendly, THE STIG (aka NOT the race car driver...but "Aquaman" coined by you all) :-)

Happy Thanksgiving to all - thank you for great engagement - here is a special Thank You for all in the Reddit "family" - be sure not to miss the goodies in the video...and stay tunes for a fabulous "Black Friday" surprise;)

FINAL UPDATE. Reddit Challenge closed. Thank you all for taking a chance and congrats to Jeff G for winning a FREE Lifetime Membership in our brand new Breatheology Academy. - It looks like this;) - - and you are always welcome - signup is FREE;)

Comments: 4551 • Responses: 47  • Date: 

TStape2420 karma

Is it true that dating is hard for you because no one can take your breath away?

StigSeverinsen2852 karma

Ha my girlfriend loves that I can stay a long time under water under in the spa :-)

minuss69322 karma

Does Guinness have a world record for that?

StigSeverinsen604 karma

You should ask them. They are open to all kinds of new strange records! NO KIDDING!

almightybob11278 karma

Do you ever do it at the local swimming pool to mess with the lifeguards?

StigSeverinsen1826 karma

Yes...when I was young and stupid I did this. I also used to tell my classmates that I was "watching television" as I was laying on the bottom. However, NEVER do this in your local swimming pool because your lifeguard might not save you, and it is not his responsibility.

I come from a professional background of swimming, and have lost several friends from mistakes holding their breath alone. NEVER do any of this. A big mission of mine is to educate people around the world on these specific safety issues.

I have a book (Breatheology), where I talk a lot about safety, and first aid.

almightybob1723 karma

I actually am a qualified lifeguard, and if I'm on duty it is my responsibility. Perhaps the laws here are different though (I'm in the UK).

But yeah, it sounds cool, I've always been interested in this, will probably check out the book. Thanks for the reply!

StigSeverinsen1083 karma

Actually no...I am from Denmark, but the responsibility of lifeguards is the same all around the world. I am also a lifeguard by education, and I can tell you that I know several sad stories where people have drowned even though lifeguards were on duty. This is because people put weights and go to the deep end of the pool, or cannot be seen because either light or reflection on the surface. This is why I always tell people to ONLY do freediving with professional assistants. It is not something to play around with, and you should never put that responsibility on a lifeguard. He is there to guard swimmers, not people doing silly things that are often not allowed in a swimming pool. Thank you for raising this important question. I am very concerned with safety, as I have seen and heard of too many young lives being lost. This is unbearably sad, and unnecessary.

HogBacon1234 karma

There's another Stig that has gone his whole life without taking a breath.

StigSeverinsen1474 karma

Not sure what you mean by this, but there's a driver in England who has a helmet on all the time, so of course he cannot breathe.

undulate802 karma

You don't have to do the 5 questions things if you're yourself doing an AMA, only if you're requesting an AMA. Anyway, could you answer the questions you put up? They are very good.

StigSeverinsen622 karma

Hi - haha...good question;) This is my first time here at reddit (I am from Denmark/Europe) - Thought I had to make these five questions and put ehat get asked most often by people and reporters...which question do you want me to be specific about?

undulate336 karma

Well the second one is what I though of when I first saw this thread. What is your mindset like when you're holding your breath?

StigSeverinsen888 karma

The secret is not so much what you think but how you think.

Your mind has to slow down with your heartbeat so that you conserve the minimum amount of oxygen.

I use many different techniques (visualization/imagry) ranging from childhood memories to imprinted images like dolphins and sharks.

Many times you get into what I like to call "Meditation under water" because you are in a meditative state where your brain works differently (alpha wave frequency).

The most important thing is that I have already done the dive 100's of times in my mind before I actually do the dive. This is KEY.

BuzzsGirlfriendWoof763 karma

The last thing I need to be doing to keep my heart rate down is thinking of sharks.

StigSeverinsen729 karma

Sharks are just fish. In fact I am going to be posting more videos of me swimming with sharks soon on my YouTube Channel. In fact I broke David Blaine's record holding my breath for 20:10 minutes in a shark tank. BIG SHARKS...THINK TROPICAL SHARKS. You can find this movie on the Breatheology YouTube Channel. I think it has the most hits, and was an official Guinness World Record also! I was the first ever to break 20 minutes. I am happy and proud about this.

undulate61 karma

I use many different techniques (visualization/imagry) ranging from childhood memories to imprinted images like dolphins and sharks.

This is interesting, it reminds me of the methods I use when I'm trying to fall asleep.

Seanehhs134 karma

that's the same as me when I would try and hold my breathe underwater, for those long 45 seconds

StigSeverinsen191 karma

Great! Just NEVER do it alone!

StigSeverinsen116 karma

Exactly...we all know a lot of these techniques, but we don't explore them so much because they are subconscious/natural to us. Be more open and try to test new methods for yourself. You will be amazed!

tingalor755 karma

As a man who clearly knows a thing about breathing, how the hell do I get rid of these hiccups I've had for the past 10 minutes?

StigSeverinsen1730 karma

Good question!

Simple answer...

Hold your breath for 30 minutes. It is a sure cure, but I wouldn't recommend it. </s>

jmutter31582 karma

I can confirm this. Another thing that works: drink a glass of water and then light yourself on fire.

StigSeverinsen1074 karma

Might work!?

tingalor284 karma

Ironically, I got into reading your responses and totally forgot about them. Well played, Severinsen.

StigSeverinsen253 karma

Good for you! :-) Actually...Shocking people can and will stop hiccups!

logically582 karma

Have ever genuinely thought, "I'm going to die now?"

StigSeverinsen1644 karma

Well actually training for another world record in Hawaii I got into serious trouble because there was so much algae on the rope making it slippery (was doing a deep dive pulling with my hands down and up). About 130 feet below, I felt like my mind and body started to waver, and at that moment a school of dolphins swam right by me. This woke me up, and I swear I have never experienced anything like this in my life before - just as if the dolphins understood that I was in trouble. It was one of the most incredible experiences of my entire life.

DickTreeFactory1343 karma

If I steal this and use it as a pickup line, will you be mad?

StigSeverinsen551 karma

No go right ahead! Be my guest! Good luck!

Azurphax350 karma

Came to the AMA expecting dolphin life-save story, was not disappointed.

StigSeverinsen76 karma

LOL! Good!

Redtube_Guy475 karma

How is that humanely possible? How did you train for that and how long did it take for you to get 22minutes?

Edit: humanly* I made this comment when this thread had like 3commenst total and wanted to type it really fast and it was late and didnt bother to check it. But I'm lolling at the typo

Lastly, I meant to say how long did it take him to train to get to holding his breath underwater.

StigSeverinsen803 karma

Well....nearly 40 years of training (I'm 39 now) - I have done these records before and was actually the first to pass the magic barrier of 20 minutes (in 2010 I did a Guinness World Record of 20 minutes 10 sec in a shark tank in Denmark) - I like to work in "concepts" so did 20'10 min like the year (2010) - When I train for a big record like this I start with a lot of cardio, then sprint/CO2 resistance, then flexibility (especially diaphragm and chest/shoulders)...because the CO2 build up like crazy and your diaphragm starts to make strong is a big "trick/mind game" to not start breathing then.....I focus a lot on visualization and get my subconscious mind to accept that I CAN actually do these I project my dreams/goals into the future...till they come true;)

Old_Grey_Mare418 karma

What do you do with a PhD in medicine?

StigSeverinsen712 karma

My PhD was on inner ear hair cell regeneration on mammels and humans...looking for ways to improve balance and hearing in humans...but also have participated in a lot of research the last 15 years where I have been the "guinea pig" for doctors...scanning my brain, ultrasound of heart, lung scans etc to understand what happens in the human body and brain after long breath holds (low oxygen levels/tension) - this to improve treatment of people with stroke etc...

StigSeverinsen656 karma

By the way....maybe I should tell you I am a Biologist (Marine Biology/Neuro-Physiology)...always had a great interest in animals....since can easily find some of my scientific papers online if interested....I am the only person in the world with the name Stig Severinsen - enjoy;)

LostSoulsAlliance155 karma

As someone with tinnitus and vertigo, I'm curious as to what hope their is to restoring these to normal. Is tinnitus caused by damage to the inner ear hair, and is it repairable?

StigSeverinsen244 karma

My main study as a Biologist was in Slider Turtles. In fact I was the first to show that turtles actually regenerate hair cells in the balance organ all throughout life. (You can find this scientific article online).

Regarding tinnitus...this is still a big question to be answered. But what I can tell you from my research is that we humans possibly have a higher regenerative power than originally thought. Just think of the human plasticity in our brains. As of now...the hair cells cannot be replaced, but I am sure you know that cochlear implants have been invented, and are very successful.

bahhumbugger59 karma

My friend suffers from terrible tinitus, do you know of any advancements or experimental treatments going on?

StigSeverinsen158 karma

See above. I am sorry to hear that.

7ateOut9359 karma

obviously holding your breath for that long hasn't caused you any brain damage. can you explain how this is possible?

StigSeverinsen575 karma

Contrary to what doctors tell you, you DO NOT get brain damage. Several doctors have researched my brain (PET/MR/CT scans) and never have found any evidence of neural damage. The important thing to remember is that the heart beats all the time, so oxygen is distributed to all cells, but of course you must be able to lower your metabolism and not burn too much oxygen.

fatman907277 karma

Do you hyperventilate before diving?

StigSeverinsen435 karma

Yes - According to Guinness World Records you are allowed to ventilate oxygen for 30 min before the dive...I hyperventilate the last can pass out from this so I try to find a good balance..

abetterthief277 karma

Whats the longest you've held you breath above water?

StigSeverinsen439 karma

I have passed 8 minutes several times, but don't train much out of the water.

Boogs27267 karma

Does it hurt much for you? If so, at what point? I ask because for example I can hold my breath for about 45 seconds (badass), but at about 30 its very uncomfortable! Is there a point where you have to fight with your body to stay down?

StigSeverinsen390 karma

This is a normal response. Your body wants to breathe. To become a professional freediver, you must learn to recondition your nervous system and overrule the signals to your brain so that you can hold your breath much longer. The trick is not to pass the limit.

CourageToGrow239 karma

How does it feel to hold your breath for 22 minutes? Do you go into a state of altered consciousness? Does it feel longer than it actually is (meaning does time feel like it passes more slowly when holding your breath that long). How does that first breath of fresh air feel after 22 minutes?

StigSeverinsen469 karma

Time is shorter for me than normal time, this is the key to these long breath holds. Since I am also quite naive, I constantly tell myself that of course I can do these dives :-).

I am not in "real time" when I do these dives, so YES I am in an "altered state of consciousness."

This is really interesting because we have so many different layers of consciousness. This is really one of my biggest journeys in my own "mind training."

This is also what I teach all of the Gold Medal Winning Olympian Athletes, and High Power CEO's...and they love this stuff because this is something that they aren't usually taught.

As you will see in the video when I break the breath hold record, I do not gasp for air after it is complete. In my opinion, you should be way beyond that point, and end the dive relaxed and with a BIG smile :-). That is my philosophy.

huggingalpaca216 karma

What are your thoughts on David Blaine?

StigSeverinsen467 karma

I have never met David Blaine personally, but had some good friends who helped him train for the record he did on Oprah.

If I remember correctly, he did 17:04 which I think is great for someone who is not a professional freediver. However, he focuses a lot on the dangers and nearly death experience. I like to focus more on the benefits and the positive psychology and how it can help other people.

This is a big reason why I do these dives. I want other people to improve their lives from the techniques and various breathing exercises I discover. I call it "Breatheology." Google it for more information.

I address David Blaine in my Ted Talk - just search "Stig Severinsen Tedx" in Google, and you will see my 20:10 record plus the training I did for my best friend who had brain damage (lyme disease), and who fully recovered even though the doctors thought he would never walk again.

garaging84 karma

That is amazing about your friends recovery. Cheers to the both of you.

StigSeverinsen272 karma

Thank you. He now has three kids, and is on the Danish national team of white water rafting, and doing a PhD in sports psychology. How much more could I have dreamed of for someone who is a true friend?!

mestivo204 karma

How close have you come to drowning? And did panic ever cause you to take a breath reflexively while under water?

StigSeverinsen773 karma

I have drowned a few times (in freediving terms "blackout" or "shallow water blackout" but I have always had a great safety team around to bring me back).

I have never inhaled water. That happens many minutes after you really die. This is actually a big misconception. Don't believe Baywatch, and all of the water coming out of the mouth when they drag a drowning victim up on the beach. Most drownings are DRY (No water in lungs).

IAM_GOD_AMA_154 karma

Has this skill ever helped you beyond setting a world record, like being chased by assassins and hiding under water so they can't find you?

StigSeverinsen510 karma

Yes actually! Great questions!

During the world cup in Hawaii in 2002, we celebrated on the beach with Dance and Alcohol. Guess this was not allowed, and the police showed up with bull horns, and tried to arrest us.

What did we do?'s a no brainer...of course we all just jumped in the ocean, and I've rarely had more fun than waiting for the police yelling and commanding and finally giving up and going home...this was a great night!

conejosusio140 karma

When I was a kid, I used to pride myself on being able to hold my breath for long periods of time. At fourteen, I swam the length of an Olympic pool, forwards and back, completely underwater. I also had thought of a trick I might be able to employ, though I never tried. I learned how to suck air into my stomach when I was little (it's actually very easy). Normally I'd just let it out in a big belch, but I thought that if I was trying to stay underwater for a long time, I might be able to burp up the air (a little at a time, of course, lest most of it escapes) and suck it into my lungs for added oxygen. I don't know if the oxygen would be corrupted by sitting in my stomach or not (I don't think so, though). Have you ever heard of anyone employing this method?

StigSeverinsen149 karma

Yes I have both heard of this, and also thought about this technique/trick. Believe me, I turn over every stone when I prepare for my record attempts. In Indian yoga, they also use this sometimes. I have never done this purposely, but may give it a try one day. However, my intuition tells me that it is too much trouble and un-cumbersom, it is better to work on your mind and focus.

DugDigger127 karma

Some say he has gills behind his ears to help him breathe underwater and that he has had sex with a mermaid more than twice......we call him 'The Stig'!

StigSeverinsen146 karma


blinkers124 karma

How do you handle the pressure going that deep, and how do you avoid getting the bends coming back up?

StigSeverinsen492 karma

This is not a deep dive. I hold my breath on the surface.

However...I have also held the world record for the deepest dive on the planet (unassisted without any fins). You must adapt slowly to the depth and focus on relaxation.

We have something called a "mammalien diving response" (you too), that slows down the heartbeat and redirect plasma from the blood to the lungs. This protects them from collapsing, just as in whales and dolphins. This was only discovered for humans in the late 1960's.

undulate117 karma

What do you think have influenced your ability to do these extreme things more, your genes or external factors like your training?

StigSeverinsen207 karma

Great question!

I honestly don't know!

But...I have been training in sports all of my life and have have been doing yoga, breathing and meditation intensively.

My guru in india has taught me the basics of yoga and indian philosophy, but my background in sports is also a strong factor.

Of course your genes are very important, and I know that I have a large lung capacity and a large spleen (where red blood cells are stored).

I work with scientists constantly and they still don't know whether these anatomical features stem from training or genes. What I want to say is that EVERYONE can train their body and mind to a much larger degree than they might believe to achieve incredible things. This is my firm belief.

AlexiPwns106 karma

First of, props man! I remember seeing you in the Guinness book of records. I have an odd question: What does one have to do to deal with cold?

StigSeverinsen202 karma

Thank you. I have done viking swimming for many many years (In Denmark we swim in the cold water all year round). I have trained myself to acclimate to extreme cold, but also have adjusted my mind to shut off the signals from the body. This can be very dangerous if you push your body too far because of hypothermia.

luckytaurus79 karma

have you ever tried smoking? also, do you purposefully avoid smokers not to inhale 2nd hand smoke?

StigSeverinsen355 karma

Tried smoking a few times, but never saw the benefit. I even took a few hits of MaryJane a few times in my earlier surfer career, and also ate a brownie with some "goodies" inside...but never found any real value in this.

I am HIGH ON LIFE, and the stuff you get from meditation and being underwater is much stronger shit!

But yes...I certainly avoid inhaling smoke from smokers, and detest smokers who litter with their butt. It is so disrespectful to nature and people around them.

I even stop breathing in heavy traffic/passing behind a bus or a truck. It has become second nature to me.

gunslinger_00672 karma

Have you seen the episode of Stan Lee's SuperHumans where they interview and test a free diver?

They do a complex test and determine that he has figured out how to "switch" his metabolism into anerobic mode (IIRC). His oxygen usage while holding his breath (at rest) continued until he hit about 80% O2Sat and then it just STOPPED. He sat there using essentially zero oxygen for minutes.

Can you explain some of this?

StigSeverinsen192 karma

No I have heard of it, but I am on Stan Lee's Superhumans next year in America. I also did a world record in that series.

bongolemon68 karma

Have your talents ever proved useful with a woman? What's the weirdest way your talent has ever brought you goodness?

StigSeverinsen302 karma

Actually yes! Several times!

Don't want to go into intimate details on spa experiences, but I held my Breatheology workshop some years ago, and there were two beautiful sexologists who were there.

They loved my teaching, and had a lot of questions on if I use the breath holding capabilities during "private time." I just answered their questions with, "I usually don't mix business with pleasure."

(But actually that's not really true)

askame63 karma

Which do you prefer, the English or French version of Big Blue?

StigSeverinsen61 karma

French / Version Integral

The music is amazing all throughout, and there are some parts of the story that link the relationship between enzo and jacques much better together.

Cousin-Eddie45 karma

I know I would freak out going that deep with the fear of not making it back up. What do you do to keep yourself centered? Thanks for doing this AMA

StigSeverinsen93 karma

You are welcome. I am having a great time with you guys answering all of your questions, as I have never done this before (I have great people on my team who suggested I do this, and so far it is great because people always ask GREAT questions!)

I usually dived with my eyes closed, and go either totally inside or outside mentally. I am not really "in the dive" I am somewhere else.

DontWorryImaPirate43 karma

How come you do the 22min breath-holding thing in water? Is it just so that people can be sure that you are not breathing?

I think I've read somewhere that when the body comes in contact with water it sort of adapts so that you can hold your breath longer, is that true?

StigSeverinsen113 karma

Yes...I do it in water so people know that I am not cheating. I respect the yoga culture of India, but many "Guru's" are impostors, and will tell you that they can hold their breath for several hours. I have been looking for them in India, but still have not found them. This does not mean that the real ones do not exist, but rather means I have not found them yet, but I want to, because I want to learn and explore more into this incredible world of breath holding and mind training.

Yes...water and breath holding triggers the mammalian diving response (See other answers where I explain this further).

plahplahplah40 karma

Have you considered playing a wind instrument?

StigSeverinsen21 karma

Never...but always dreamed of being able to play the piano or guitar. However, I have many people playing wind instruments, and also professional singers contacting me to get help to improve their breathing capacity.

Scruffii33 karma

Not a question, just wanted to say I'm a big fan!

Danmark elsker dig! :D

StigSeverinsen36 karma

Thank you! Love you too! (Elsker din entusiasme...mange tak og god dag)

MollyMathpants28 karma

What do you think about while you're down there? Or are you just focused on your lungs not exploding the whole time?

StigSeverinsen53 karma

As stated in another question, it is more about how you think...

Since I use a technique called "packing" my lunges are extremely filled...feels like they are about to burst. This is why I train a lot of flexibility...some of the exercises are quite extreme but necessary.

sanman318 karma

Can you comment on this: Mammalian diving reflex

As in, what does it feel like when it occurs? Also what do you think in your PhD opinion is the evolutionary reason for us having this ability?

StigSeverinsen38 karma

Here is an article I wrote on this very topic.

When it occurs you feel deeply relaxed, "heavy" (but in a good way), and you feel your heart beat very intensely. It is truly a joyous feeling.

Having a PhD or not...I have answered this question very specifically in my book "Breatheology." Try to search for the aquatic ape theory, then you will get some new perspectives on evolution.

Personally I believe it is because we originated from the sea.

Bughood17 karma

Did you ever pass out holding your breath for an extended period of time?

StigSeverinsen37 karma

Sometimes...mostly in the beginning of my training days. Now I know my body well, and have not passed that point for the last 10 years.