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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6 Comments on "High School Coach Uses CPR To Save Swimmer Suffering Heart Attack"

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Kerry kropf

My daughter was diagnosed with Long QT 2 years ago and her swimming career is not over. She went to an awesome doctor at the Mayo, had surgery and back at it with regular monitoring.

I, too, had a similar experience several years ago with a girl swimmer having Long QT syndrome, as well. Thanks to my knowing cpr and many prayers, my swimmer totally recovered. At the time she was the youngest (13) female swimmer ever recorded. She got married this summer! Totally blessed!

Swim Giggles LLC

Wow, what a powerful article! This is why we coaches have to go through safety training periodically. Thank you for the awesome reminder. Happy swimming!

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson just can’t stay away from the pool. A competitive career of almost two decades wasn’t enough for this Minnesotan, who continues to get his daily chlorine fix. A lifelong lover of writing, Jared now combines the two passions as Senior Reporter for SwimSwam.com, covering swimming at every level. He’s an …

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