David says there were a few factors that made his attempt more difficult than in practice sessions. "I had never done it suspended just by my feet," he says. "Normally, I just kind of free float, and this time I was aware of the feet and being pulled upward, so it was a little different."
The beeping heart monitor also made David aware of his irregular heart beat, which he says is why he floated toward the surface at the end.
During an extended breath-holding exercise, David usually meditates and reaches another state of consciousness—but not this time. For almost the entire 17 minutes, he says he was aware of his surroundings. He even opened his eyes at one point to focus on the studio's lights. "The lights were actually helpful," he says. "There were flecks of light on the sphere, and I was using that to kind of try to meditate a little bit."
When things get tough, David says he thinks of his deceased mother. "I always feel her with me," he says. In honor of the woman who raised him, he says he would have liked to hold his breath for 23 minutes. "That's a crazy dream. That's my mother's birth date and a lucky number in my life."