The world record for a person holding their breath underwater is currently 17 minutes and 19 seconds. This type of competition is called static apnea and is usually attempted in a pool. Competitors can breathe pure oxygen for up to 30 minutes before the attempt. Although these records are recognized by Guinness, they are not recognized by the free diving community which do not allow the breathing of pure oxygen.
In 2007, German engineering student Tom Sietas set a world record by holding his breath for 15 minutes and 2 seconds. He beat his previous time by 37 seconds. His secret is to fast for 5 hours before the attempt to get his metabolism down. He then breathed bottled oxygen for 20 minutes before plunging into a tank in New York City. He also holds the record for holding his breath without bottled oxygen at 9 minutes and 8 seconds. Thirty-year-old Sietas apparently has lungs 20 percent larger than the norm for someone his size.
In early 2008 Peter Colat of Switzerland then got 16 minutes, 32 seconds. It seemed a race was on to out do each other.
On April 30, 2008, David Blaine then broke the record again for breath holding. It was taped at The Oprah Winfrey Show and aired live that night. Blaine held his breath for 17 minutes 4.4 seconds to set the Guinness World Record, Blaine prepared by breathing pure oxygen for twenty-three minutes. The show also reported on his training regimen, which included sleeping in a hypoxic tent. During the attempt, his heart rate dropped to about 50 bpm.
On September 19, 2008, Tom Sietas broke the world record again for holding breath underwater on Regis and Kelly Live. Tom Sietas broke David Blaines record by a further 15 seconds, holding his breath for 17 minutes and 19 seconds.
For the record Tom Sietas also holds the static apnea record without using bottled oxygen at 10 minutes and 12 seconds.
Source : ezinearticles.com