Mark Pawlak – Aiming High

Mark Pawlak

Aiming High

             For Errol Morris

             “I always thought that record would stand until it was broken. ”–Yogi Bera

Sui Generis

Extreme sports enthusiast Wolfgang Kulov
has claimed a world record for cycling underwater
a distance of two and six tenths miles
along the bottom of Germany‘s North Sea coastline.

Samir Tandon has his name featured
in the Limca Book of Records,
the Indian version of the Guinness Book
for his ability to recite songs
from Hindi language films backwards

Paul Hunn is famous as the man who produced
the loudest burp ever measured,
a belch comparable in volume to a pneumatic drill
or to an aircraft taking off. And now,
he has set out to surpass his own record.

Bibhuti Bhushan Nayak, a martial arts expert
and man of numerous feats,
has made his latest mark in the ‘groin smash,’
in which three forty-one pound blocks
were placed on his groin
then smashed with a sledgehammer.


Wolfgang Kulov, who used a specially designed
lead bicycle for his underwater feat,
was followed by divers and by spectators

traveling on the surface in boats
from Scharbeutz, in Schlewsig-Holstein,
to the Timmendorf beach,
in the neighboring German province of Ostseebad.

Besides film songs, Samir Tandon is also known to read out
entire passages from newspapers,
to recite verses from ancient Sanskrit texts,
and to repeat back pieces of conversation he has just heard,
all in reverse.

Guinness World Records officials were on hand
with sound level meters and recording equipment
to verify Paul Hunn’s attempt to set a new burping mark.
He began with a series of belches,
that grew progressively louder;
but, try as he might, Hunn fell short of his
one hundred eighteen and one-tenth decibel record.

Bibhuti Bhushan Nayak’s new mark bettered by one brick
the current ‘groin break’ record
held by American Cliff Flenoy.
On this same occasion, Nayak broke yet another record
for the most push-ups in a minute–one hundred thirty-three–
outdoing the mark of one hundred sixteen
set by Paul Dean, a Briton.


Wolfgang Kulov’s underwater journey
went without incident: “A couple of fish,” he said,
“came along for the ride, sitting on the handlebars.”
And at one point, he had to drive around
a discarded garden gnome that someone had thrown in the water.
“But other than that,” Kulov said, “no major incidents arose.”

Samir Tandon achieved his expertise through practice
by reciting backwards up to twelve hours every day
for a period of four years. “I have always wanted
to do things differently,” he explained.
Tandon, who has added English pop songs to his repertoire,
next wants to produce and sell
audio and videocassettes of his performances.
“And,” Tandon added, “I would love to publicly read
a book written by a great writer in reverse.”

Paul Hunn admitted disappointment
at his failure to set a new burping record
but vowed that he would return with another challenge
when he was feeling in better form.
“Hunn was under a lot of pressure with everyone watching.”
said Guinness Records senior researcher Della Howe.
“But,” she noted, “It’s like the athletes
at the Commonwealth Games at the moment–
you have to train hard and just go for it.”

Bibhuti Bhushan Nayak’s ‘groin break’ and push-up feats
were recorded by local newspapers and by a TV crew.
They will be submitted for ratification by the Guinness Book,
where his name has already been entered for completing
eight hundred nineteen backhand push-ups, the most ever.
He has also holds records for performing
one thousand four hundred forty-eight sit-ups in an hour,
and for withstanding forty-three kicks to the groin.


Wolfgang Kulov had thought his feat would take him
at least eight hours, so he was amazed
when he emerged from the water
after only three hours and fifteen minutes.
But setting a world record for underwater cycling
was not something Kulov had ever expected
to have any difficulty doing. “As far as I know,”
he said, “I am the first person
to ever have ridden a bike underwater.”

Samir Tandon admitted that learning to recite backwards
“was difficult in the beginning.”
“My family members thought I was mad
and forbade me from taking up the hobby.
But, nowadays,” he said, “when they see me perform,
they are proud and happy.
In fact they encourage me.”

Paul Hunn got a similar response to burping out loud.
“My dad used to hate it when I did it as a kid,” he said,
“but he is coming round to the idea now.”
“My girlfriend wasn’t too keen at first either,” Hunn added,
“but when we went out to America
to appear on a chat show there,
she soon came round.”

Bibhuti Bhushan Nayak, as a child,
Was inspired to break records
after seeing a television series on human endurance.
“These acts,” he explained, “are not only

very strenuous, but also
extremely dangerous.” However, he stressed,
“nothing can be achieved without risks.”
“I want to break other records,” Nayak added,
“I want to aim higher.”

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