Cinenewsnow.com, a local news station in the Chicago area, is reporting of a near-tragedy at Peoria’s Notre Dame High School that was averted by one swimmer’s quick thinking.
16-year old Alex Bousky was trying to break a breath-holding record, and after 75 yards he passed out and suffered a seizure at the bottom of the pool. After a teammate noticed his absence, 17-year old Charlie Cain jumped into the water and pulled his teammate to safety. The team and the coach then took all appropriate actions, turned him onto his side, and called an ambulance.
“I went over to make sure he was okay, I didn’t expect to find him,” said Cain to Cinenewsnow. “He was on the bottom of the pool. I brought him up and over the wall and our coach got down to pull him out. All the guys were doing stuff for him, we opened the doors up and we got him on his side. One of the guys found someone to call the ambulance.”
Cain was trained by his coach, Steve Frye, in a Red Cross lifesaving class. Even though he was never a lifeguard, he took the class in hopes of furthering his medical career, according to the article.
Cain’s heroics are certainly to be commended, but this is another scary reminder about the dangers of these sorts of underwater challenges.
The dangers posed to swimmers at practice has been highlighted by two recent incidents at two of the country’s major clubs. In one case, a teen at SwimMAC was transported to a hospital by ambulance after nearly drowning. In the other, tragedy was not averted when teenager Louis Lowenthal drowned at the North Baltimore Aquatic Club. There are still no firm details (and may never be) about precisely what happened in that situation. Aside from highlighting the risks, both of these cases also highlight the importance of having as many trained lifeguards on deck as possible; both in a formal role, as well as coaches and other athletes who might be observing practices.
While USA Swimming has not issued a specific ban on the type of challenge activity described above, some organizations like the YMCA have issued bans targeting these extreme challenges. Regardless of bans, such challenge activities continue to occur in our pools. In order to maintain a safe training environment, coaches are expected to consider the age, distance and recovery time when undertaking any breath control training and never push or challenge their athletes to place themselves in duress or a dangerous situation. The Safety Training for Swim Coaches course, required of all USA Swimming member coaches, addresses the issue of inappropriate hypoxic training.