Brian Larue

Fall 2005- San Diego, California Brian’s story is a successful case, albeit a close call. So close, that Brian hit the brink between life and death and luckily his friend was able to revive him to life. In line with the typical profile of a Shallow Water Blackout victim, Brian is a strong, advanced swimmer and was a member of the NAVY. In his profession, Brian was required to train for diving. His training involved diving techniques, brick walking, breath-holding exercises, and hyperventilation before submerging under the water. In the Fall of 2005, after hours at one of the Navy Base pools on Coronado Island, San Diego, Brian and a few other trainees practiced their skills. Brian attempted the 50-meter brick walk, a pervasive training technique in his field. He was only a couple feet under the water and like anyone who trains intensively, had his mind set on his goal. He was to stay submerged, holding his breath and walk 50-meters underwater, without coming up for air. Committed to his underwater goal, Brain started under the water holding a brick unknowingly passing through the warning signs of Shallow Water Blackout. He remembers a strong urge to breathe. He still wanted to complete the task and forced his body to continue past his limits. He felt pounding in his head, pressure behind his eyes and in his chest and throat. This seemingly is any body’s reaction to air deprivation and it is difficult to know when training that the body is actually past its limits. The next memory of Brian’s was coughing on the pool deck. He was lucky. His friends were able to pull him out of the water in time after he had been underwater for a little over a minute. His friend started CPR. If any of the events had delayed at all, there is a good chance that Brian would not be here today. Brian suggests for other swimmers to “let someone know you’re there, know your limits and don’t hyperventilate.” While it is necessary to push limits in order to progress, he explains there are other ways to challenge oneself and build endurance and strength, such as other cardiovascular activities. “When you have that urge to breathe, it’s for a reason,” he explains. “If I didn’t have anyone with me, I’d most likely be gone.” He also advises notifying the lifeguard if attempting any training exercises. Additionally, he notes that taking a few quick breaths before training, otherwise known as hyperventilation, actually builds CO2 in the system and causes individuals to pass out quicker. Brian is an example of a success story. We need to learn from the experience he shared. Avoid Shallow Water Blackout, so others swimmers do not have close calls. Many others are not able to share their experiences because they don’t survive Shallow Water Blackout. It takes lives. Spread the word and educate about SWB, so it can’t claim any more victims.