underwater breath-holding

13-year-old Boy Saves Victim of Shallow Water Blackout

Editor's Note: This week we received an email from a mother whose 13-year-old son experienced a shallow water blackout while their family was vacationing in Orlando, Florida.  This story shows how SWB can happen to an adolescent even while under responsible adult supervision.  We applaud young Clayton for his alertness and rescue of his best friend, Reagan.  Thank you, Teresa, for sharing your story and helping to raise awareness of the dangers of shallow water blackout. Lives will be saved!

Clayton (Left) and Reagan (Right)

Clayton (Left) and Reagan (Right)

A Story of Survival, as told by Teresa Lamear

"We went to Orlando with our 13 year old son Reagan and brought along a family friend, Clayton, who is the same age in March of this year. These boys have been close friends since first grade and get along fabulously. I don’t think they’ve ever fought.  We rented a house with a pool and hit the parks for a few days. The last day we spent at the house relaxing.

When we first got to the house and the boys jumped in the pool, we told them 'Hey, no crazy jumping. No ER trips this weekend.'  Saturday they were swimming pretty much the majority of the day either in the pool or the hot tub. With or without goggles.

Around 7:30 pm, the boys were in the pool and thankfully my husband Ron and I were also on the patio. At 13 years old and healthy kids, used to being in swimming pools their entire life, it wouldn’t be unknown for us to walk away briefly. Take the dogs for a walk, fix food in the kitchen etc. We were watching our tablets for a delayed rocket launch at Cape Canaveral while the boys swam. 

Reagan was taking his turn swimming underwater seeing how far he could go. He hadn’t gone nearly as far as he normally does when Clayton noticed his body language change. Instead of thinking it was a joke, Clayton swam to Reagan and pulled off his face mask goggles. He could tell Reagan was dead weight and making an odd sound. He started swimming holding Reagan’s head above water towards the edge. When Clayton came up for air he yelled for us and caught our attention. By then he had Reagan at the edge of the pool and we pulled him out. Reagan was still unconscious. I don’t know how many seconds passed, felt like at least 30, before he came to. He didn’t cough up any water. He was just confused what was going on. Last thing he remembered was swimming underwater and knowing he needed to go up for air. He had fainted before he could come up for air.

He was completely fine and responding to everything normally. After consulting a relative who works in the ER, we determined we didn’t need to take him in. But were still very concerned wondering why this happened. Needless to say, I slept right next to him that night!

We let his older sisters know what happened. They were also shaken up by the close call. Our oldest daughter started looking up what could have caused Reagan to faint. She found information about your organization. After reading the information, it was very obvious that Reagan’s situation fit the Shallow Water Blackout description exactly.

We were SO FORTUNATE. Clayton was a hero that day for how quickly he reacted. We had a lot of discussions that night and the next day about the importance of Never play-drowning. Swimming with a buddy. Keeping an eye on your friends. CPR techniques and many other things.

I thank God every day that we have our boy and things did not turn out tragically as easy as they could have. I feel compelled to somehow warn other families.  Thank you so much for your organization and efforts to raise awareness. Living in SW Florida (Cape Coral, FL), we have a lot of interaction with pools and water. Hopefully we can help raise awareness also."

US Coast Guard Warns Trainees of SWB

Photo courtesy of https://www.facebook.com/AirStationMiami/

Photo courtesy of https://www.facebook.com/AirStationMiami/

When speaking with ASTC  (Air Survival Technician Supervisor) Matthew Laub at the Coast Guard Air Station in Miami, we were pleased to learn that the trainers there are very aware of the dangers of shallow water blackout. Before each trainee begins training they must read and sign the form below. The form explains what SWB is and states that if the policy of no hyperventilating is violated the student will be removed from training.


We applaud the US Coast Guard for taking this step to prevent SWB and senseless tragedies!  This is another step in the right direction.

* Special thanks to ASTC Matthew Laub.

Photo courtesy of https://www.facebook.com/AirStationMiami/

Photo courtesy of https://www.facebook.com/AirStationMiami/

Young Boy Saves Teen From Shallow Water Blackout

Staff, swimmers at Palo Alto pool credited with saving teen's life.

Photo and article from Fox affiliate KTVU, Fox2

Photo and article from Fox affiliate KTVU, Fox2



PALO ALTO, Calif. (KTVU) - Staff and swimmers at a Palo Alto country club are being credited with saving the life of a 17-year old boy. They say he nearly drowned, after blacking out at swim practice.

Austin Chase wasn't breathing when staff members pulled him out of the pool. And while they had never dealt with anything quite like this before, they had trained for it..read more

Aquatics Safety Research Group Releases Newest Lifeguard Video: shows why Lifeguards Can’t See – Visually and Mentally

Lifeguards, parents, and other human supervisors continue to miss drowning victims in the water. Who is to blame – Lifeguards? Parents? From decades of drowning prevention research and experience, the new Complex Quadriplex of Lifeguard Blindness video reveals a  hidden culprit – the perils of human sight and cognition.  

 Aquatic Safety Research Group’s brand new Lifeguard Blindness educational video illustrates the four most significant challenges that lifeguards and other supervisors face around the water. More significantly, this video provides strategies to strengthen supervision and supplement supervision with simple and affordable lifesaving strategies.

The four challenges presented include external distractions, internal noise, cognitive body blindness, and perceptual body blindness. Learning about these hidden lifeguard “blindfolds” will raise awareness of these challenges, saving lives in, on, and around the water. This 27 minute video is perfect for lifeguard in-service training and can be viewed one section at time - a must see video for every lifeguard!

The new CQLB – Complex Quadriplex of Lifeguard Blindness video is available with a limited pre-order special at aquaticsafetygroup.com or streaming on demand for 6-month rental or purchase at https://vimeo.com/ondemand/cqlb

and for more information contact
Rachel Griffiths at [email protected]

Drowning Deaths of Two Navy SEALs Were Due to Shallow Water Blackout

Special Warfare Operator 1st Class Brett Allen Marihugh, 34, of Livonia died April 24,2015.  A group of trainees found him and Special Warfare Operator 1st Class Seth Cody Lewis of Queens, New York, at the bottom of a combat training pool. Lewis also died.

Special Warfare Operator 1st Class Brett Allen Marihugh, 34, of Livonia died April 24,2015.  A group of trainees found him and Special Warfare Operator 1st Class Seth Cody Lewis of Queens, New York, at the bottom of a combat training pool. Lewis also died.

The Detroit News has obtained a copy of the results of the Navy's formal investigation of the drownings of two Navy SEAL's at a naval training facility in Virginia this past April.

Please view their informative article about the results of the investigation here

Highlights include:

- Cause of deaths have been ruled as shallow water blackout

- The Navy will now require a lifeguard or first-class swimmer to be present on deck at Naval Special Warfare pools for all conditioning swims other than laps. 

- Signs will be posted in pool facilities expressly prohibiting breath-holding.

- Rear Admiral B.L. Losey, commander of the Naval Special Warfare Command, has ordered a review of all training requiring breath-holding for compliance with safety standards, and for inspections at pool facilities to ensure the proper posting of emergency-response plans and equipment.

- Technically they were abiding by the "two man rule" so their deaths were not due to misconduct, as ruled by the Navy.

“Our commitment to be the best and push ourselves to ever higher levels of proficiency must be tempered by safety compliance that is often learned from a past tragedy like this one,” Rear Admiral B.L. Losey, commander of the Naval Special Warfare Command, wrote in an Aug. 14 letter accompanying the investigation. “Overconfidence is an ever-present risk factor.”

Our deepest condolences to the families of these true American heroes.