Swim Instructor Writes About a SWB Incident

Hi friends and fellow swimmers: I am passing along an account from a colleague regarding an 'incident' that happened last week at a local Masters Swim Workout.

On Friday, about fifteen minutes after the conclusion of practice, Jeanne (name replaced) and I were in the pool office and heard several loud screams for help. As I exited the office I saw someone in the very far corner of the pool, in the pool, with his arms wrapped around another person, in a position similar what would be done for abdominal thrust, holding him up and shouting, "someone who knows what to do - please help!" As I arrived the situation seemed too clear and both parties were in the water. The one doing the shaking looked exasperated and shaken. The other man looked calm but very daze and confused. He didn't know what happened and the rescuer hold him he had passed out in the water. The following is the account of the rescuer: As it turns out the victim had completed 75 yards under water. He came up for a breath. The breath was described as 'one that didn't look (right) like one that you would want to take.' I take that to mean it was a very shallow, inadequate breath. It was then said that he went still with his mouth under water; the water line at his nose; and his eyes were rolled back. As I said, when I arrived the man had regained consciousness. He didn't know what happened but he knew where he was and claimed to be fine. He got out of the water by himself. 9-1-1 had been called and because he didn't want help the 9-1-1 call was called off. I walked with him back to the entrance of the locker room and asked him not to do this exercise anymore. I emailed him later in the day and he said he felt fine and was embarrassed. He also said he would rest this week and keep his underwater swimming limited to 25 yards. Free will does exist and I cannot tell anyone what to do. But I will say that I highly discourage this extreme form of exercise and think we all need to discourage it. Unless things have changed I do remember hearing that there is no scientific evidence that hypoxic training yields beneficial results. I will sometimes ask swimmers to extend their breath stroke count from 3 to 5 or from 4 to 6; and I try to remember when I do this to tell people to breathe when they need to and not 'turn blue or purple' as a result of holding their breath. I also do it from a perspective of doing if for efficiency and staying relaxed, and at full speed or with a high heart rate. Please remember what may be obvious: we are dealing with adult athletes who are mostly training for fun and fitness. Even though we deal with some very talented and competitive people this is a great example of the need to maintain balance while training. Although I don't believe there is anyone to blame here I do believe we all need to be aware of the incident and use it as a lesson to advise caution and discernment with the people we coach and advise.