Illusionist Rides Coffin Into Deep Water

Illusionist Jackson Rayne is ready to take the plunge. He isn't getting married. He's ready to be shackled inside a canvas bag, locked in a coffin, and immersed in 10 feet of water.

The stunt, called "Immersion," gives the 22-year-old magician less than two minutes to free himself of these constraints. He'll attempt the stunt Friday, Nov. 7, at 7:30 p.m. in the Sparks Pool at Willamette University. Prior to the plunge, Rayne will also perform 30 minutes of magic. The event is free and open to the public.

Shackles, connected by chains, will be attached to Jackson's elbows, wrists and ankles. The Willamette University graduate student will be locked in a seven-foot canvas bag and placed in a coffin made of plywood. The side panels are open to allow the water to fill the coffin quickly. Ryan will have to work in the dark.

With the help of Tim Kelly, an "immersion trainer," Rayne has been working on the stunt since early September. In addition to swimming five miles a day, he has been concentrating on breath technique and breath management. In addition to his four pool workouts each week, he has incorporated yoga, weight lifting and meditation to better control his heart rate.

"I don't like underwater escapes," he says. "To be completely honest, they scare me. I like doing escapes, but I prefer not to do them underwater. I hate the idea of not being able to breathe when I want to."

Safety precautions will be taken to guarantee the safety of the illusionist. He adds, "We'll have a diver in the pool monitoring my progress, but the problem with being underwater is that the diver will not react unless he actually sees me panicking. There are many things that can go wrong with a stunt of this caliber."

Rayne, formerly known as Jason Rowton, is a student at the Atkinson Graduate School of Management at Willamette.