Tom Sietas celebrates breaking his own Guinness world record for holding his breath under water. Photograph: Richard Drew/AP
A German man has broken his own world record for holding his breath under water after managed to remain submerged for 15 minutes and two seconds.
Tom Sietas, a 30-year-old engineering student from Hamburg exceeded his own Guinness record time by 37 seconds at the world free diving championships in New York.
Emerging from his single-breath dive, which was watched live on US national television, Mr Seitas said: "I'm hungry". He prepared for his record-breaking stunt with a five-hour fast which helps to slow his metabolism.
While his feat went virtually unnoticed in his native Germany, he was celebrated in New York by stars such as Jennifer Lopez and Michael Jordan.
Mr Sietas began free-diving over a decade ago after a scuba diving instructor he met on a holiday in Jamaica recognised his extraordinary ability to hold his breath.
He has since held a total of 12 world records.
His success yesterday was helped by inhaling pure oxygen for 20 minutes prior to the event. The world record for breath being held under water without the assistance of inhaled oxygen stands at nine minutes and eight seconds, and is also held by Sietas.
Mr Sietas has attracted much attention from the medical profession for being able to do what is physically impossible for most.
But according to Dr Marc Spero, a lung expert for the organisation Divers Alert Network, he has the natural advantage that his lungs are 20% larger than average for a man of his size.
He also manages to maintain a corpse-like stillness that helps him to preserve oxygen. In a similar situation most people would be flailing and gasping for air and wasting oxygen in the process.
Mr Sietas said that holding his breath helped him to deal with stress, such as getting over an argument with his girlfriend, because he didn't think about anything when he was under water.
The art of free-diving was famously dramatised in the 1988 Luc Besson film Le Grand Bleu about the rivalry between two world-class divers.