There are no rules for how a world record actually comes together. Nor is there any guarantee that you'll smash it out of the park if you decide to try and break one.
However, 65 women, including Amy Chmelecki, did just that, braving minus 13-degree temperatures at 20,000 feet above the Arizona desert to officially break the world record for number of women skydivers linked in a vertical formation. In layman's terms, 65 women linked arms and flew headfirst toward the ground at terminal velocity.
The skydivers spent just under a week training and attempting to break the record, but it wasn't until the 16th jump that it all came together. "Setting a world record is not easy," Chmelecki said. "That's why it's a world record. It's not going to be given to us, we had to work really hard for this."
All the facts
Women from around the world, 18 nations in all, met in Eloy, Arizona, at Skydive Arizona. Over the past two years, the leaders of the attempt have been organizing training camps and all-women jumps as trials for this record attempt. After all, it's not just jumping out of a plane and diving head first — there are so many more elements that go into setting a world record. Some you can control, others you can't.
Once they were in Arizona, the women weren't guaranteed they would fly in the world record attempt either. Ninety jumpers showed up, but the record was set with 65 jumpers. In the end, Chmelecki and her team of organizers were pretty cutthroat on putting women on the bench — one mess up and you were out.
But, there's only so much you can control. The women battled with nearly broken legs, freezing temperatures, turbulence, hypoxia, head kicks, blown up sinuses, exhaustion and the weather. The later was one of the biggest challenges, which ultimately pushed the final record attempt to the very last day.
Now or never
The team had no more opportunities when the record was finally broken and with weather moving in, the pressure was on. With the sun just up over the Arizona mountains, the team headed high into the sky and battled severe tempuratures for a final attempt. Luckily on jump number 16, everything finally came together.
"We flew for 8.5 seconds," Chmelecki said. "I couldn't see behind me, but I could see in front of me and it looked so good. My cross partner could see behind me and she was smiling. You could just feel this buzz, an electric energy."
It was a long and exhausting week that was, at times, frustrating. But, in the end, the girls came away with a more than satisfying result.
Stay tuned over the coming weeks to find out what it really takes to complete a skydive world record.