Breaking: Dressel taken from Jr Nats in an ambulance with breathing trouble

  38 Jared Anderson | December 13th, 2013 | Featured, Junior Nationals, National, News

Caeleb Dressel left Junior Nationals this morning in an ambulance after having trouble breathing in the wake of his 100 fly race.

One day after his ground-breaking sub-19-second 50 free race, Dressel reported some difficulty breathing in the pool area and left the meet to get medical attention.

Dressel swam the 200 medley relay and the 100 fly this morning before leaving, and wound up scratching the 100 breast. It doesn’t sound like the medical situation is too serious for the 17-year-old Bolles School star, but at this point Bolles coaches say that it’s uncertain if he’ll swim finals tonight.

The Greensboro Aquatic Center just had its HVAC systems upgraded last week to help improve air quality leading into the Junior National meet, but the results appear to be pretty mixed, based on swimmers’ reviews and now Dressel’s situation.

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38 Comments on "Breaking: Dressel taken from Jr Nats in an ambulance with breathing trouble"

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2 years 5 months ago

As a coach at the meet, I can tell you the air is bad and I’m not even swimming.

2 years 5 months ago

Hah! I remember back in my day when my coach tried forcing us to work through it. He had to give up and end practice once even he started coughing.

2 years 5 months ago

So many kids complain about the air quality! After the
first day my swimmers started to cough and have problems breathing.
So much talking about the new ventilation system… It’s the

2 years 5 months ago

USA Swimming has known about the air quality issues in Greensboro. It is a difficult and expensive venue for people to reach (how many direct flights to Greensboro are there???) and there is a history of air quality issues. One new HVAC system for 1200+ swimmers is a bandaid, and our athletes, coaches, and officials are paying for it. What was the logic in choosing this venue?

I hope USA Swimming starts putting the athletes first with their venue selections. Another example- Junior Nationals outside in San Antonio when August temps historically are over 100 degrees? Is this about paying them back for not picking San Antonio for Trials or putting the kids in the best competitive venue available?

Come on USA Swimming. Do the right thing for your swimmers.

2 years 5 months ago

I am a swimmer and i competed at this meet, i train here at
GAC and swim 80% of meets there. The air quality has never been a
problem for me and wasnt there

2 years 5 months ago

It wasn’t horrible yesterday… but the first thing I said as I walked in today was that the air sucked. It sucks. Eyes burning. Coughing. Very poor “fix”. It’s going to be a factor in what could have been a special weekend.

Wahoo Strong
2 years 5 months ago

You are right – this is a shame. Greensboro needs to get their act together. I get the whole, “Build it and they will come” mentality, but this is crazy to keep giving them meets when they clearly don’t have the control over the air/water quality, and they haven’t SINCE IT WAS BUILT. What about ACC’s? Kids are supposed to stay on deck and cheer for their team, and they can’t run outside to get fresh air. They need to change the venue to Georgia Tech. I was just there last weekend with hundreds of swimmers and there were NO PROBLEMS. This shouldn’t be about politics. These swimmers work too hard to be stuck in air that is harmful to their health and to their athletic performance. You wouldn’t ask a football or baseball team to play on a field that is covered with harmful pesticides, so they shouldn’t expect our kids to swim in an aquatic center with toxic air. I hope Caeleb feels better quickly.

2 years 5 months ago

Wahoo Strong – I think the silver lining for ACC’s is that there will be fewer people in the water. Still won’t be ideal, but hopefully won’t put anybody in the hospital.

2 years 5 months ago
Another coach
2 years 5 months ago

I am a coach at the junior meet and the air quality is just fine. A wonderful facility and an inexpensive destination.

2 years 5 months ago

Hopefully it is just because of bad air. Does he have asthma? As we know, many kids start swimming because of asthma. I know we did; our boy started swimming at 7 because of constant respiratory problems. He has not been sick every since, and I mean ever, for 4 years. Swimming was a “miracle cure” for him. Good luck to him.

2 years 5 months ago

Asthma was my first guess too. Indoor pools are a dicey proposition: A well-ventilated one can help some folks with asthma, a poorly ventilated one can trigger dangerous asthma episodes.

2 years 5 months ago

I spotted a news article on increased asthma risk among young swimmers. According to the results of new research young elite swimmers (who trains a lot) bear a double risk of having asthma compared with their peers (who are not swimmers).

Of course it’s difficult to prove causality to the swimming itself. However, it was stated that if chlorine is blended with sweat and urine it creates nitrogen trichlorides which is a potential factor causing asthma.

But as researcher herself stated, she wouldn’t recommend anyone to stop swimming. The positive effects on one’s mental and physical health clearly outweigh the possibly negative ones. However, one thing is for sure, there is nothing dangerous in good air quality or clean water. Swimming outdoors in a clean pool is probably the best form of training for swimming in terms of health. And bad air quality or unclean water is unacceptable in any case.

2 years 5 months ago

I got diagnosed this past Spring with asthma and I haven’t been in a pool that was worse than this since then. As a swimmer at this meet, I had to use my inhaler 5 times this morning, and other swimmers I’ve talked to say they were having problems too.

2 years 5 months ago

The facility managers should be embarrassed. Their inability to manage the water and air quality is negligence.

2 years 5 months ago

The air quality is terrible. My asthma has been under control since I was 5. This meet, my asthma was so enflamed I had to go sit outside of the pool for an hour.

Always Real
2 years 5 months ago

Air is a disaster, we are putting vicks on the bottom of swimmers feet at night with socks on to clear congestion. Swimmers running outside after races for air is not an uncommon site.

2 years 5 months ago

Elixir Vegetal is a very good decongestant as well (Bobo Gigi can testify about that), but since these are underage swimmers, never mind that suggestion.

2 years 5 months ago

Say it ain’t so

Swim mom
2 years 5 months ago

Echo coach’s comments. Lots of kids struggling…sitting outside in the cold, running for the door for air. Kids going to urgent care for breathing treatments, lots of scratches. Also very crowded on deck compared to last year. Kids came in swimming so fast….but times did seem slower today

On a positive note, meet is well run. Although hard to hear the start because the venue is noisy.

Lou Jones
2 years 5 months ago

Air isn’t terrible, but it isn’t good either. Came from a meet last week in Cary, NC (TAC) where the air was twice as bad…. I think these “evacuator” systems are big jokes… what a waste of money.

Addac swim
2 years 5 months ago

To be honest, the air here is incredibly better than meets in the past. If you’ve been to Y nationals you know what I’m talking about. This place is totally packed, and compared to Indy??? This is amazingly better.

It’s gotta be tough to fix a problem this big, but kudos to GAC for making the effort. It is not unnoticed!

2 years 5 months ago

The poor air quality at indoor pools is caused by a chemical reaction between URINE and CHLORINE. Therefore, the more people that people in the pool, the more the life guards have to treat the pool with chemicals, and the worse the air quality gets. It’s not rocket science. Stop peeing in the pool and you will be able to breathe.

2 years 5 months ago

I’m not certain of the reliability of the source, but UT Austin is requiring showers for all swimmers. Showers can reduced chloramine load by 30% or more. That’s a partial solution only, and should be part of a comprehensive approach that includes air circulation, eliminating pool urination, UV sanitation, and good chemistry. With 1200 swimmers, narrow deck space, and all those spectators, it must be quite a handful to manage.

On the live feed, I noticed that the water didn’t look crystal clear. Can anyone speak to that? Is this just what I saw on the video feed?

Brian M
2 years 5 months ago

Actually you are partially correct/ Issues are caused by not only urine, but by soap, perfume, sweat, shampoo, etc. anything that is organic in nature. So even if people are not peeing in the pool, your combined chlorine level will still rise (bad air) . The problem is that it is almost impossible for the chemical balance to be maintained properly when you are dealing with a bathing load of almost 700+ competitive swimmers in an indoor facility, especially one with a poor ventilation system. In an ideal world, you would superchlorinate the pool after every finals session to burn off the bad stuff, and start over with max free chlorine every morning.

2 years 5 months ago

From what I remember of growing up in a northern LSC this was never really an issue. I then moved south to VA and first experienced these air issues around some of the pools down there, and since moving to the NE area have really experienced the problem ten-fold. From my loose knowledge of pool chemical management and the issues associated with bad air, the problem stems from one issue; chloromines. However, this simple problem stems from many other related issues: too many swimmers in the pool for both the water filtration and air circulation to handle, not just inept aquatic managers.

Pools are expensive to build in that they do not generate revenue(!) other than to run (clean, staff, water, heat, light, etc) the facility itself (mostly. unless they are themed then it is easier to get at the general public base to generate revenue…but then you have to have more water, more heat, more chemicals, more air, you get the idea.

So when pools get built, what gets cut first? More often than not it’s: seating, deck space, and air and water filtration. So you get crowded decks, and water and air contaminated with chloromines.

So, with my rant over with, it seems like one of the more difficult remedies would be to build bigger and better filtration systems and build the pools around them.

The easier fix would be to go to geographically aligned Junior National meets (4 meets), then an East-West meet (2 meets) then a National meet (1 meet) throughout the year…meets that get progressively faster, keeping the attendance at each around 600.

BUT! You don’t make as much money like that!

Anybody else have any good ideas?

Oh, and the reason I began this, for the kids at Juniors & Caeleb, I hope you feel better!!!

2 years 5 months ago

You are right. I meant to include that a shower will help remove all those things (conditioner, sweat, dander, perfumes, etc). And 700+ swimmers jumping in to warm-up at the same time overloads ANY system (except outdoor pools).

Most pool filtration systems run on a 6 hour cycle. That means there are 4 complete “turnovers” per day. Each water molecule, and everything else in the pool, will reach filter media and UV lights ON AVERAGE only every 6 hours. Adding 700 swimmers over the 90 minutes of warm-up means that LOTS of organics are added to the pool, but that only 1/4 of the pool volume on average will be filtered during that time. 15 minutes of clear water at the end of warm-up is hardly any help, except for maybe more chlorine to reach the main body of water. All those organics will combine with chlorine in a pool for certain: at that point, the hope is that inevitable precipitation of di- and tri-chloramines out of the pool as chloramine gas will be removed from the building and not add up.

2 years 5 months ago

It might be due to where they (Bolles) were sitting. CCiST is located under the platforms and the air seems to be fine there. There is also a door to the outside that people are using pretty regularly. We are also used to a pretty poorly ventilated pool in Bloomington High School South (IN.) so we might not be the best judges.

Crazy swimmer thang
2 years 5 months ago

I’m coughing up my insides and dying slowly but surely, air
quality is terrible

Train for Life
2 years 5 months ago

Hope he is fine and able to compete in his remaining races.
Air quality doesn’t seem substandard to me.

2 years 5 months ago

I am a swimmer who usually doesn’t have any problems with
indoor pools whatsoever. Indy was great because there wasn’t 1200+
swimmers there. Texas Juniors was also great because of their
amazing ventilation system even with a huge attendance of swimmers.
This is by far the worst indoor meet I’ve ever been to. Coaches and
parents from many teams that I have spoken to can feel the effects.
When the fastest kid in the country is having issues and is carted
away by an ambulance, I think something is wrong. I genuinely feel
bad for Bolles swimming and any team that has had to scratch their
events because of this poor quality. I really hope USA swimming
creates a solution to the problem now and, most definitely, in the

Midwest coach
2 years 5 months ago

Air quality should be a prominent agenda item at USA
Swimming. It effects athlete performance and safety. I coaches at a
club for many years. This club’s president and de facto Head Coach
also owns and operates a pool service company. The coaches athletes
and parents were all effected by the unsafe air quality. In a three
year span six different athletes were medically diagnosed with
‘Vocal Chord Disorder’ -inflammation of the lining of the vocal
chords. As the only real game in town, athletes had to ‘deal with
it’ or quit the sport. Sorry for the impassioned expose. I pray Mr
Dressell is well. I certainly also hope USAs takes heed and spends
appropriate time on illuminating the effects of poor air quality,
in the interest of athlete protection.

Region VIII swimmer
2 years 5 months ago

“Air quality should be a prominent agenda item at USA

– It’s not. Every year the Region VIII Sectional meet is held at the Mizzou aquatic center in the summer. Each year, the air quality ranges anywhere from poor to suffocating. in 2009 it was so bad people were coughing up blood. After numerous inquiries to USA swimming about it, they basically said that pools that place a bid that win are awarded the meet. If the GAC gave USA swimming the best bid/deal then they got the bid, regardless of any possibility of air issues.

I was at USMS Nationals and did not think the air was bad at the GAC. I have also swam at Jenks that has this similar “new” HVAC system and found it fantastic. However, USA swimming’s only suggestion to me was to do my part and stop peeing in the pool and that would fix the problem (I get the whole chlorine + organic matter = chloramines = breathing trouble, but still, that is the best the organization can do?).

I might add that some cities actually add chloramines to their water supply, which can exacerbate the problem. Not sure if Greensboro is one of those cities (Columbia, where Mizzou is located, IS one of those cities).

2 years 5 months ago

City water with monochloramine sanitizer is common. When that water is added as make-up water to pools, it adds to the chloramine problems. There are two solutions to that, which would prevent build-up of pool chloramines:
1) make-up water for the pool is filtered through a charcoal filter before it enters circulation.
2) make-up water for the pool enters circulation, but hits a UV light before it gets into the pool. UV breaks up chloramine, which is the reason outdoor pools rarely have chloramine problems (besides the fact that they have better air circulation anyway).

Make-up water should never be added directly to a pool, as with a hose or straight pipe.

2 years 5 months ago

A: Not too difficult to design a proper a new HVAC system in a new facility. B: It’s a much harder task to retrofit an originally poorly designed system in an existing facility. Since they originally failed on A, I suspect they are having even more trouble with B and their new HVAC doesn’t have the efficiency they would have liked. Maybe they didn’t have time to test the new system properly before this meet but at the very least they should have drained all the pools and refilled about a week prior.

2 years 5 months ago

No news on how the kid is doing?

Hugo Miller
2 years 5 months ago

I thought Knoxville (last year) way WAYYYYY worse as far as air quality…. it’s not great here either, but way better than Knoxville.

2 years 5 months ago

what causes the bad air? the increased level of chloramines.

what causes the increase in chloramines? large number of swimmers uses up the chlorine in the water and the agitation of the water by the swimmers releases the chloramines into the atmosphere.

why aren’t the chloramines filtered? current air handling systems – hvac – only recirculate the bad air. the air is barely filtered.

solutions? 1) better air handling systems which REMOVE the air from the building. i have experienced the in-gutter evacuator system and it works perfectly; retrofitted systems not as well. 2) smaller meets. usa-s knew the meet could top 1500-2000 swimmers. gac knew they had a history of air problems with large meets (i.e. the y-nat meets held there and other meets). *uv systems can help, but the “bad” air still has to be removed for the facility.

what is next? first, usa-s has to do a better job of researching facilities. second, usa-s needs to have smaller meets. this means creating east/west jr national championships. faster standards aren’t the answer. third, all national-level meet hosting facilities must have been fitted during construction with gutter evacuator-type systems or are retro-fitted with similar.

the health of the athletes, coaches, officials and spectators is paramount. usa-s needs to take responsibility for the health of the participants and not the health of it’s pocketbook (read “sponsors”).


About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson just can’t stay away from the pool. A competitive career sixteen years and running wasn’t enough for this native Minnesotan, who continues to get his daily chlorine fix. A lifelong lover of writing, Jared now combines the two passions as Senior Reporter for, covering swimming at every …

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