High School Coach Uses CPR To Save Swimmer Suffering Heart Attack

A Chicago high school swim team endured a scary event a few weeks ago, as one of its swimmers had a heart attack in the pool. The quick action of her coach was the only thing that saved the swimmer’s life.

16-year-old Claire Luning was swimming on a relay during her high school swim team’s practice when the heart attack hit, per Chicago’s ABC7 news station. A butterfly leg with her Walter Payton-Jones College Prep teammates suddenly turned disastrous when Luning finished her swim and started having trouble breathing.

“It felt like I couldn’t breathe, that I was not taking in enough oxygen and I started to panic but I kept going for some reason but it kind of went fuzzy,” Luning told ABC7.

Her coach, Mac Varilla, says Luning was already unconscious and not breathing by the time she was pulled from the water.

“I noticed the signs of life were not there, like no breathing, no pulse, her eyes were wide open – that’s when I knew this was a big emergency,” Varilla said in the ABC7 story.

But Varilla was able to perform CPR and resuscitate his swimmer, who is now recovering after being diagnosed with Long QT Syndrome, a heart condition that can cause chaotic heartbeats. The diagnosis means Luning’s swimming days are over, but she and her coach are now publicizing the story to promote CPR training and electro cardiograms (or EKGs), a medical test that could have alerted Luning to her condition earlier.

You can read another account of the incident on Chicago’s WGNtv.com here.

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5 years ago

What a hero.

5 years ago

This is amazing!

Swim Mom
5 years ago

We had a similar incident at our club a few months back. College swimmer home from school for the summer. Thanks to the quick thinking of his teammates and our coaches he survived. It was a terrifying experience for our whole team. I’m sure most coaches will go through their entire career without having to utilize their CPR training, but it’s so important that they take that training seriously in case of situations such as this. So glad to hear this young swimmer survived.

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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