A New Zealand freediving champion plunged to 125m on a single breath only to have what would have been a world record cancelled on a technicality.

Official freediving protocols state that once competing divers return to the surface they must give an "OK'' hand sign; a verbal "I am OK''; and remove their goggles and nose clip within 15 seconds.

William Trubridge failed to do the latter and had the dive, in the Bahamas, cancelled.

"I made it to 125m and back to the surface, but my oxygen was just too low and I had a samba [a loss of muscular control caused by oxygen deprivation] and failed the surface protocol. I forgot to remove my goggles. There were groans and laughs, but on the whole I'm not too gutted,'' he told the Xtremesport website.

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"The dive felt good, so I know that it is within my reach.''

Three days before that he dove to 120m - and remembered to take his goggles off.

The 32-year-old this week won The World's Absolute Freediver Award (WAFA) for getting the highest combined score in six freediving disciplines in 2011 - he become the first man ever to break 600 points.

Trubridge told Xtremesport he trains as much as 15 times a week, a regime that includes breath-holding exercises, diving technique and yoga.

"To extend your breath hold you need to develop greater storage capacity for oxygen in your blood and tissues, but perhaps more importantly develop a tolerance to high carbon dioxide levels so that you can relax or stay calm despite the urge to breath that comes when CO2 levels rise.

"I use a lot of exercises to develop flexibility of the lungs, ribcage and diaphragm. Some of these I have taken from yoga practices, others I have devised myself. I am constantly doing yoga to keep the body, and most importantly the lungs, flexible.''

Trubridge holds the world record in the discipline of unassisted constant weight (no fins), and can dive to 100m without the use of fins, rope, weight, or any other form of assistance.

In 2010 he also broke the world record in the discipline free immersion (where the diver propells by pulling on a rope) with 116m.

According to his website, Trubridge learnt to swim at the age of 18 months and was freediving to 15m by the age of 8.

"I have a relationship with the depths they beckon me beyond my means cold dark vacant pressure forever night, endless dreams,'' he wrote.

Video of a recent 120m attempt can be found here.