(Photo by Bill Allen/NJ SportAction)

LIGHTING IT UP: Mike Campbell hones his free throw shooting form in a session at the Rutgers Athletic Center. Last Friday evening, Campbell lit up the hoop at the Princeton Family YMCA gym as he made 1,197 of 1,347 free throw attempts in one hour, setting a world record pending approval from the Guinness Book of World Records. Campbell, a part-time water safety instructor for the YMCA, made his effort as part of a fund-raising drive for the organization's basketball program.

Campbell Shoots Record Clip From Line in YMCA Basketball Fund-Raising Effort

By Bill Alden

If one had wandered into the Princeton Family YMCA gym last Friday evening around 6:30, it might've seemed like a basketball instructional film was being filmed as a video camera followed two referees and a shooter.

Instead, the scene was actually an attempt by the shooter, Mike Campbell, to break his own world record for the most foul shots made in an hour.

Campbell, a part-time water safety instructor for the YMCA, came into the evening with a record of 1,076 successful shots out of 1,266 attempts, a feat that was certified by the Guinness Book of World Records last August as a world record.

As part of a fund-raising effort for the YMCA's basketball program, Campbell toed the charity stripe last Friday with the hope of making 1,200 shots in his 60-minute slot. The refs and camera were on hand to count Campbell's shots and verify things for the Guinness certification.

Battling the humidity, Campbell made 1,197 of 1,347 attempts, setting the record pending approval from Guinness.

For Campbell, breaking his record was a draining experience. "I felt I was on but it was so hot in the gym," said Campbell, 52, a resident of East Windsor, who also works part-time in the emergency room at the University Medical Center at Princeton in addition to holding down a full-time position with CitiStreet in Somerset.

"I had made 220 after 10 minutes; I may have gone out too fast. My legs were as tired afterward as if I had run a 10k race; I get my power from my legs when I'm shooting."

Campbell has had the knack for outside shooting since his high school days in Bayonne. "I played a lot of playground hoops in Bayonne and shooting was always my strong point," said Campbell, who ran track at Bayonne High but didn't play for the school's basketball team. "I always did well in PAL foul shooting contests in high school; one year I made 20-of-20 shots in a round."

In the 1990s, Campbell started using his shooting talent on behalf of charity as he became an annual participant in the Hoop-a-thon at the Rutgers Athletic Center, an event that raises money for the New Jersey Chapter of the Huntington's Disease Society of America.

After making 212 shots in 10 minutes one year at the Hoop-a-thon, Campbell did some research to see if he was shooting at near a record clip.

"I've always found the Guinness Book of Records interesting; I saw that they had a lot of basketball records and that I was close to the 10-minute record for free throws," said Campbell, a 1979 Rutgers graduate. "I saw that most of the records were for one minute, 10 minutes, one hour, or 24 hours. I called Guinness and they said that they didn't a have a one-hour free throw record."

As a result, Campbell went for the one-hour record on the 2005 Hoop-a-thon, setting the standard with his 1,076-shot performance. He tried to set the bar higher at this year's Hoop-a-thon but came up just short, making 1,029 shots in 60 minutes.

With the Princeton Family YMCA starting a fund drive for its basketball program, Campbell decided to make another shot at the record to help the organization.

Campbell, a fitness buff who has completed many marathons and triathlons, underwent a gruelling regimen as he prepared for his latest shot at the record.

"I shot 300 free throws a day on weekday mornings," said the 6'0, 200-pound Campbell, who also runs 20-25 miles a week and swims two-three miles a week. "This is like a simulated game. It's a combination of shooting skill and keeping your form."

Campbell's bid drew around 50 spectators and those interested in contributing to the YMCA's hoops program can still do so by contacting the organization's Youth and Adult Sports Director, Geoff McBride, at (609) 497-9622 (ext. 203).

As a fan of both Guinness and the YMCA, Campbell was glad that he was in good form for his fans last Friday. "I love sports and it would be a kick to look at the Guinness Book and see my name," said Campbell.

"It's also for a good a cause; trying to improve the Y basketball program. I think it's good to get the kids going at a young age. The Y stresses the fundamentals and that's the way to start."

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