Life at Deloitte

Deloitte professional breaks three world records

Breaking a Guinness World Record is no mean feat, which makes breaking three of them while still in your 20s, downright awe-inspiring.

Sanchit Sharma from Deloitte India’s Consulting team has just done just that. Moreover, he broke all three records within a period of less than a year:

  • Fastest time taken to arrange a deck of playing cards memorised under water – 3 minutes, 42.50 seconds
  • Most playing cards memorised under water – 67 cards
  • Most decimal places of Euler’s Number memorised – 3,141 digits (since overtaken)

Here’s what Sanchit had to say about this accomplishment.

What motivated you to try for a world record? How did you decide what exactly you were going to attempt?

I was always been fascinated by feats involving memory prowess. It was the urge to accomplish something using memory-enhancing techniques that drove me to explore breaking a record.

When it came to choosing my first record attempt (Euler’s Number), I have to admit that I just browsed through the Guinness archive online to see which records appear “achievable”. That was my naiveté speaking and it was indeed a tough record to break.

The next two records were an unusual choice. Considering my swimming skills are quite rudimentary, learning how to hold my breath under water was a more daunting prospect than memorising the cards.

So how did you prepare yourself?

You have to start somewhere, so my initial attempts involved sticking my head in a bucket of water. When I thought that I was improving, I tried to replicate that at the swimming pool of the Chelmsford Club in New Delhi. It was a jolt back to reality when I could only manage to stay under water to 20-30 seconds.

I realised that beyond the physical act of holding your breath, it’s also about overcoming your mental block. Since I had safety precautions in place, I knew I couldn’t drown, but your reflexes come in the way.

I researched the techniques that help you maximise the use of air in your lungs and made a systematic training schedule for myself. Following the structured training, I was able to hold my breath underwater for 2:20 - 2:30 minutes, at which point I decided to attempt the records.

As for the memorising part, I practiced relating both digits and cards with images that I’m well acquainted with, like people I’ve met, characters I’ve known on shows and movies, and connecting these images in my mind by concocting a vivid, imaginative story. I’m also actively involved in the International Association of Memory, an organisation that holds memory competitions worldwide. The online community of the association helped a great deal.

What did your family think about your attempts, especially the second and third?

Memorising Euler’s Number was quite a “safe” record, so there was a lot of support. Holding your breath under water took some convincing, especially my mother and grandmother. I’m certain there were a lot of raised eyebrows when I put my head in a bucket! However, they were by my side on the big day.

Let’s talk about the big day itself. Do take us through how it progressed?

The biggest myth (fuelled by TV shows) is that it’s a whirlwind process. In reality, the run-up to the actual day was a long one. It takes around three months to get acquainted with the rules and arrange the necessary personnel support.

You need two independent witnesses, two timekeepers, a professional card player to shuffle the cards, and unedited videos and photographs from several angles.

While I had no issues with breath control, I almost thought that I had flipped two cards while rearranging them afterwards. I waited nervously for the assessor to reveal the 56th card. Turned out that I was worried for no reason.

You would have been delirious with joy at that point!

Definitely! However, it’s another nerve-wracking process to get your attempt recognised. You need independent statements from all the personnel mentioned in the previous question. It takes another three months after submitting all evidences, to get the official result. When the confirmation finally came, it was an indescribable feeling.

What’s next for Sanchit Sharma? Which record do you have your sight on?

I’m still on a high about the previous one! I’m also keen to participate in memory competitions held by the association I mentioned earlier and am looking for sponsorships for that. But let’s see, it would be fabulous to break a few more records, for sure!

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