A Minnesota woman now holds the world record for the greatest number of swords balanced on her body.
Bloomington, Minn., resident Erin Hunter says she found herself experiencing what she called “midlife crisis mode” when she was approaching age 40. So she decided to attempt what seemed like an impossible record to break.
Hunter picked the challenge because she has been doing Middle Eastern dancing — which includes balancing swords — since 2003. The previous record was held by a New York woman who balanced 28 swords in 2022.
“My inner voice has not been kind and I kind of wanted to find something else to do to help prove to myself that I could do these things,” Hunter explained. “I was considering options, and thought about a Guinness World Record.”
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Hunter began Middle Eastern dancing almost on a whim.
“I looked at a community ed catalog to see if there was something creative that I could do and saw a picture of [the teacher] who would become my dance instructor and thought, ‘Okay, I can’t dance. Maybe I can do this and learn it and become really good. And then at my high school reunion, I can go back and I’ll just like really impress everybody,’” Hunter said.
“I haven’t been to a high school reunion since, but I’ve still been dancing.”
Venues for Middle Eastern dancing include the annual Renaissance Festival in Shakopee, Minn., where she knew other performers who had broken world records.
“I thought that would be really cool to be on par with them and set a record and hopefully, you know, quiet that inner voice down a little bit,” she said.
The process for breaking a record is involved, beginning with contacting the Guinness Record organization, headquartered in London.
“You can either pay Guinness to have an adjudicator come out and verify your record right then and there,” Hunter explained, “or the route I went was documenting the whole process and then submitting kind of like a book’s worth of evidence to them.”
This included video footage and soliciting witnesses and timekeepers. The attempt to break the record had to be open to the public.
“Just basically making sure that you’re not pulling a fast one on them that you’re not like editing the video here just to throw in an extra sword or something like that,” Hunter said. “Then once you’ve got all your evidence, you would submit to them and then cross your fingers and wait.”
Last month, it was confirmed that Hunter broke the record by balancing 30 swords on her body for one minute.
She says part of her thinks that if somebody breaks her record, she would like to attempt it again. But another part says it’s time to move on to a new project.
“My only hope is that like the next person who tries to break the record has like, I don’t know, short legs so that they can’t,” Hunter said.