SINGAPORE - With only five minutes on the clock, students darted down the staircase into portable toilets. Others retreated onto the wooden floor, massaging their limbs and wiping exhaustion onto sweatbands.
Teachers distributed bottled water, energy drinks and bananas.
With five seconds to go, students and teachers at Fuchun Secondary School got back up on their feet, ready to swing and swirl their way into a new Singapore record.
Earlier on Tuesday (Sept 6 ), 234 students and teachers from the school jiggled and jived their way into the Singapore Book of Records for a record four hours of zumba dance. In celebration of the school's 30th anniversary, they did the zumba dance with elements of hip-hop in the school hall.
"Towards the end all I was thinking was to keep going. It's just one more song," said Secondary 3 student Muhd Harun, 15.
Participants were allowed five minutes' rest after about every hour.
A group of teachers and students guided the rest from the stage as they moved to beats from Usher and Chris Brown to Vengaboys.
"This gets us moving rather than being in a boring classroom for four hours," added Secondary 3 student Deshantini Paneerchalvan, 15.
The school, which has a Lifelong Learning Programme in dance, decided that it wanted to celebrate its 30th anniversary in a memorable way.
"We thought that dance is the way to go because we ride on dance as a platform in our school," said Madam Rohizan Talib, the school's staff developer. "But just like preparing for a marathon, we had to prepare and condition ourselves for the dance."
Preparations started months earlier.
In March, the teachers and a dance vendor came together to choreograph a dance routine. The teachers rolled out a video in June to gear students up for the dance marathon. A month later, the students, who are mainly from performing arts co-curricular activity (CCA) groups, started practising the routine during CCA sessions.
"The students like it because it is easy to pick up," said Ms Hafiza Yahya, subject head of Aesthetics at the school. "Even during their school camp in August, we saw that the dance had grown on them. When familiar songs were played at the campsite, they all started dancing."
On the big day, dressed in striking quick-dry T-shirts and shorts with colourful streamers around their wrists, the dance participants were exhausted but not out.
"I am so relieved and proud of what we did," said student Harun, who is a member of the Malay dance club of his school. "I was shocked that I could last for so long."