Our thanks to Coach Paul as he reminds us again: Do NOT hold your breath!!!

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Our thanks to Coach Paul as he reminds us again: Do NOT hold your breath!!!

Shallow Water Blackout (“SWB.”) technically known as Hypoxic Blackout or Apnoeic Hypoxia claims many lives every year. Most cases are 100% preventable through increased awareness of what causes it & the danger it presents. “SWB” occurs when a person holds their breath underwater too long or other forms of hypoxic based actions.

“SWB” occurs from low levels of oxygen to the brain known as Hypoxia.

The physiological process is:

  • An inability to breathe takes place either consciously or from physical over exertion.
  • This artificially decreases CO2 levels.
  • As the breath hold begins oxygen is metabolised & CO2 levels increase.
  • As this continues the body gets starved of Oxygen.
  • Increased CO2 would normally result in a breath trigger.
  • As the CO2 levels were artificially decreased, with hyperventilation, there is no trigger.
  • CO2 levels are too low to initiate a breath response.
  • The swimmer loses consciousness, the body immediately reacts & forces a breath.
  • The lungs fill with water & without immediate rescue a drowning death will occur very quickly.

People do die from causes associated to the actions of breath holding. Even with swift action, “SWB” can lead to severe life impacts.“SWB” has no association to competency in water, athleticism, or swimming level. Dr Tom Griffiths, a leading world authority on “SWB” has stated his belief is “SWB” is responsible for most drownings of confident swimmers. Even elite level swimmers have been victims of hypoxic blackout. The unfortunate irony is numerous peer reviewed studies have clearly shown that Hypoxic training provides no performance enhancement.

We all need to take responsibility to spread the message of the dangers of breath holding in water & the possible tragic consequences. This will assist less parents & family members experiencing the trauma of loss to “SWB.” Excellent resources are available on Drowning & SWB from various, societies & organisations.

https://www.swimstrongfoundation.org/     New York, New York USA




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