A FORMER soldier is hoping to make a splash as he attempts to break the record for how long someone can stay submerged in an underwater tank – and so far it’s all going swimmingly!

Mark Colman will be feeling the pressure as he tries to stay immersed in the tank for 120 hours in a bid to not only smash the existing record, but to raise £500,000 for the charity which changed his life.

The former Royal Engineer, of Pendine Close, Corringham, was clapped and cheered as he took the plunge to begin his epic challenge at the Underwater Studios, in Burnt Mills, Basildon, at 10.30am yesterday.

Mark, 44, hopes to raise money for the charity Veterans in Action (VIA) – a cause he credits with helping him turn his life around after he suffered post-traumatic stress disorder.

Mark wants to beat the world record for the longest dive in a controlled environment, which stands at 100 hours over four days and four hours.

For five days the 30ft wide, 40ft long and 20ft deep tank will be his home, with Mark coming up for a 20-minute break for food and water every four hours.

To keep Mark occupied, the owner of the studios are pumping round-the-clock music into the tank thanks to specialist speakers and are also providing special games and activities for Mark to enjoy.

Mark, who served in the Gulf War, said: “There is no doubt this event will challenge me in many ways. This is a huge personal challenge for me.

“Two tragedies changed my life, the death of a friend in a diving accident, as well as the loss of my sister, which led to me suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

“Thanks to VIA I am more positive about the future and am turning my life around and now have a great relationship with my daughters and grand-daughter.”

Fred Woodcock, of the Under-water Studios, which is regularly used by movie producers for filming, added: “We are all proud to support Mark. We are doing 24-hour shifts here to make sure everything goes OK.”

Donations for the underwater challenge yesterday stood at £5,620, but Mark hopes to raise half a million pounds. To donate, visit MarkColman