David Blaine has broken the world record for breath-holding live on Oprah Winfrey's TV show.

The magician remained underwater for 17 minutes and four seconds, beating the previous record - set on February 10th by Swiss Peter Colat - by 32 seconds.

"I feel great," Blaine said, having been pulled from a water-filled sphere on the show.

"I actually started to doubt I was going to make it because I'd never done it with such a high heart rate," he added.

The 35-year-old said breaking the record was a "lifelong dream".

When Winfrey asked him what he had thought about during his stint underwater, he replied: "You."

The bearded magician inhaled pure oxygen for 23 minutes before the stunt - permitted under Guinness World Records guidelines - so as to flush extra carbon dioxide from his blood.

"There's no enhancement, no cheating," he told Winfrey before the record attempt, explaining that his high-profile stunts - such as his 44-day fast in a glass cube and his two-day encasement in ice - were efforts to push the human body to its limits.

Blaine explained he had achieved a meditative state during the breath-holding attempt, helped by the reflection of the stage lights on the glass of the water-filled sphere.

But hearing his heartbeat - which became irregular towards the end of the stunt - helped him remain conscious, he said.

"I was pretty much here the whole time."

01/05/2008 09:40:21