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A leading cause of in-water death among competitive swimmers

Preventing Shallow Water Blackout, A Leading Cause of In-Water Death Among Competitive Swimmers

JACKSONVILLE, Florida, September 16 courtesy of Swimming World Magazine.

Rhonda Milner talks about creating an organization that she hopes will increase awareness of the dangers of shallow water blackout. She talks about the warning signs that swimmers, coaches and parents should look for to help prevent more deaths.

SHALLOW water blackout, brought on by hypoxic training and pushing the boundaries of one’s breath-holding abilities, is one of the top causes of in-water death for competitive swimmers. Coaches, swimmers and parents are often not aware of the warning signs of impending shallow water blackout, but a new organization led by Dr. Rhonda Milner is aiming to increase awareness of this silent killer.

In this video interview from the American Swim Coaches Association’s world clinic, Milner talked about the tragic death of her son from shallow water blackout that prompted her to create to educate people on the dangers of hypoxic training and why many don’t often see the danger until it’s too late.

Shallow water blackout occurs when the amount of oxygen going into the brain gets drastically low during breath-holding exercises underwater. The low level of carbon dioxide in the lungs often prompts the swimmer to black out underwater, even though he or she feels like they can hold their breath a bit longer.

Milner said the training practice of holding one’s breath to practice underwater kicking or the seemingly fun game of competing to see who can hold their breath the longest are two common places where shallow water blackout can occur. She points to the recent death of a swimmer at North Baltimore Aquatic Club, who was practicing his underwater kicking in front of lifeguards and in the presence of others in the pool, as an example of how hypoxic training is so normal that many do not keep a close eye on those doing it, even the well-trained athletes.

To learn more about Shallow Water Blackout, visit the organization’s website.