Man Describes His Near Death Experience With SWB

John Wood
John Wood

As told by John Wood of Concord, Massachusetts 

In 1960 I was a sixteen-year-old high school junior living in Maplewood, Louisiana.  My friend Tom Davis and I met at the municipal swimming pool on a hot summer day.  I had ‘discovered’ long distance underwater swimming.  With the accumulated intelligence of a teenager I found that I could swim underwater to the other end of the pool and back by hyperventilating.  I stood in the shallow end of the pool and breathed in-and-out rapidly until I started feeling dizzy.  I had developed the theory that this would saturate my body with oxygen and permit extraordinary time underwater.

My next memory was hearing the siren of ambulance I was riding in.  My friend Tom Davis was watching as I stopped swimming and slid to the bottom of the deep end of the pool.  He called the lifeguard who drug me out and administered artificial respiration.  My head banged on the edge of the pool as I came out, requiring a few stitches later. X-rays showed that I had gotten water in my lungs and I was kept in the hospital for a day.  A doctor explained the role of carbon dioxide in the breathing reflex, and I felt rather stupid about this stunt.  The irony here is that I had previously completed classroom and pool training as a lifeguard... training which made no mention of shallow water blackout.