Sailor breaks record for consecutive air squats

Pacific Region News / January 17, 2018

By Rodney Venis

On his attempt to break the world record for consecutive air squats, Leading Seaman Kris Winther said it would end one of two ways: he would either pass out from the pain or he would finish. Turns out he did both.

Five days before Christmas, the Maritime Forces Pacific sailor embarked on his amazing feat on the grounds of the Delta Hotel in Victoria. As he approached the 3,000 mark of the joint-bending exercise, the sleeves used to protect his knees cut off circulation to his legs. His muscles seized and he started to black out. His record-setting goal of 5,135 squats appeared distant.

“I was in the most pain I’ve ever been in my entire life,” says LS Winther. “I was coming in and out of consciousness and my friend had to stand behind me and keep catching me.”

Even for onlookers there to witness the feat, and those cheering him on in a live stream on Facebook, it was an exercise in pain and endurance. They watched him fall repeatedly, clutching his leg, dance about, and scream in frustration. Anything to coax another squat from his agonized body. But most of the time he went down and got back up, for 4.5 hours, reaching 5,200 squats to set a new world record and support a charitable cause.

In addition to months of training and thousands of squats leading up to his December feat, LS Winther set up the charitable organization Vets for a Cure and dedicated much of his record-setting attempt to supporting the B.C. Children’s Hospital through a fundraiser.

“Essentially I called it Vets for a Cure because I’m not looking for one specific cure,” he says. “It’s helping a whole lot of people in a whole lot of different aspects. Sometimes a cure is just a smile, or sometimes a cure is just support."

For the event he wore a T-shirt given to him by the parents of his friend Private Tyler William Todd. Pte Todd, 26, died April 11, 2010, in Afghanistan while serving with the 1st Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI).The back of the T-shirt bore the words “son, brother, friend, firefighter and soldier.”

For the first seven years of his 11-year military career, LS Winther served as a member of the PPCLI and deployed twice to Afghanistan. He said he struggled with “survivor’s syndrome” when he returned home.

“I stepped on an improvised explosive device when I was in Afghanistan, and one person in front of me passed away, my sergeant, the greatest man I ever knew. I end up living and ever since that day I was wondering why? Why did I get chosen to live?”

That question, and struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), formed part of LS Winther’s motivation for setting the air squats world record. He hopes the accomplishment raises awareness of those affected by PTSD.

“I also did this for my three-year-old daughter. She is healthy, but I don’t know what I would do if anything bad ever happened to her.”

His daughter Francesca made a few squats of her own alongside her father.

Courtesy of Lookout Newspaper