Shallow Water Blackout Prevention

Shallow Water Blackout: An Interview with Vasa’s Rob Sleamaker

By Julia Galan of

Rob Sleamaker is known by many in the swimming community as the founder of Vasa, Inc., the company behind the Vasa Trainer and Vasa Swim Erg, widely used in the United States and around the world.  Recently, Rob has been on a mission that has less to do with innovative swim training and more to do with saving lives.

In August, Rob’s neighbor and friend lost his 27-year-old son, who drowned during a spearfishing dive in the Bahamas. The cause: shallow water blackout, occurring from a combination of hyperventilation and prolonged breath-holding underwater. As it turns out, shallow water blackout does not affect divers alone. There have also been multiple incidents – and deaths – in the competitive swimming world as well.

Rob made a promise to his neighbor that he would do everything he could to raise awareness about shallow water blackout, and he’s doing just that. We interviewed Rob to find out more about shallow water blackout, why it’s an important issue in the swimming world, and what he is hoping to achieve by raising awareness about it.

Four part series of articles on shallow water blackout to raise awareness of the issue and help prevent further tragedies from occurring.

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