Record record-breaker makes a big splash

Ashrita Furman broke the world record for most water balloon hits in one minute in Edinburgh yesterday. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Ashrita Furman broke the world record for most water balloon hits in one minute in Edinburgh yesterday. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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HE ALREADY holds the world record for eating jelly with chopsticks, hula hooping under water and balancing a milk bottle on his head.

These, along with 129 other feats, have earned him the title of “most records held at the same time by an individual”.

Yesterday, in a quiet Edinburgh courtyard, Ashrita Furman set his 133rd record, for the number of water balloons broken on the body.

And today the 57-year-old health store manager from New York will try to claim his 134th when he travels to Loch Ness to raise the bar for skipping – while wearing flippers.

“That was fun,” he said yesterday, after 20 blue balloons full of freezing water exploded on his body in the space of a minute.

Visiting Loch Ness was the inspiration for his trip to Scotland but the irrepressible Mr Furman decided to fit in an extra record breaking attempt in Edinburgh – just hours after getting off an overnight flight from New York.

With bare feet and wearing a turquoise T-shirt and checked shorts, he shivered on the cobbles of Gladstone Court off the Royal Mile as he prepared himself.

Balloon thrower Bipin Larkin had to work extra hard as the pair realised the cold was making the home-made water bombs more difficult to break.

“I played tennis so I guess that helps,” said Mr Larkin. Mr Furman added: “When we practised in New York they were breaking easily – but the cold is making them harder to break.”

In order to break the record specified by the Guinness World Records book, the blue balloons had to be at least five inches long and a third full of water.

They had to be thrown from ten metres away and had to break on Mr Furman’s body and not on the ground. If the pair managed to smash more than 15 balloons it would be accepted as a record, but documentary proof has to be submitted to Guinness before the record becomes official.

Claire Burgess, PR manager for Guinness World Records, said: “People who want to break a record have to apply to our Records Management Team. To be accepted, a record has to be measurable and it has to be interesting.”

She said Mr Furman was well known to the Guinness organisation. He has broken a total of 365 records since 1979, although some have since been bettered by others.

“He has this incredible passion for record breaking,” she said. “He has inspired a lot of other people to take up record breaking as well. He is bursting with ideas.”

Mr Furman said his inspiration was the late Indian spiritual teacher Sri Chinmoy, a meditation master who practised feats of endurance and who encouraged his followers to push themselves to their mental and physical limits.

“I was never an athlete and then I started meditating and found I had an incredible amount of energy,” he said. “We all have this tremendous strength inside of us which we never use.”

He will need all that strength today when he attempts a new record for the number of jumps through a skipping rope in five minutes while wearing flippers. The record currently stands at 113.