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Sunday, 24 March, 2002, 17:40 GMT
'Merman' sets new diving record
Haydn Welch
The monofin helps Haydn Welch to swim like a dolphin
A new national underwater breathing distance record has been set by a man swimming with a single giant flipper which makes him move like a dolphin.

Somerset jeweller Haydn Welch swam 139 metres in one breath to smash the British record for freediving using a carbon fibre device called a "monofin".

The two-foot Russian-made flipper, helped the 44-year-old beat 39 competitors in the horizontal freediving race in the National Association of Freediving competition in Amiens, France.

In January, Mr Welch reached 131 metres in Switzerland, but was told his record could not be ratified as the organisers were not officially recognised.

The monofin does require more effort than normal flippers so you have to be fit, but it is faster

Hadyn Welch
Undeterred, Mr Welch trained hard and competed in a recognised event, adding another eight metres to his personal best.

Mr Welch said: "It was a little frustrating learning my January record was invalid, but I just remained focused and knew I was going to do it again.

"Last time I didn't do enough training but this time I had two months to train and really went for it.

"Most swimmers use two normal flippers but I prefer the monofin.

"The motion is very much like a dolphin action - a bit like a swimming butterfly.

Training regime

"It makes a really smooth and graceful manoeuvre.

"The monofin does require more effort than normal flippers so you have to be fit, but it is faster."

The father-of-two from Taunton, Somerset, is 15 years older than the average competitor.

He now aims to concentrate on depth diving for the UK championships in July and world championships in the Caribbean in September.

See also:

12 Feb 02 | England
'Merman' sets underwater record
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