Information and Video about Shallow Water Blackout

Many of you may have read or heard the unfortunate news about the UCSB Water Polo player, Nick Johnson, who was swimming at the Santa Barbara High School pool and had a tragic accident.  It is believed that he accidentaly drowned from hyperventilating while swimming underwater for a period of time.  There is a name for this in swimming, it is "Shallow Water Breathing" or "Hyperventilation induced-hypoxia".   

Hyperventilation, rapidly inhaling and exhaling full breaths of air, is the first link in a dangerous chain of events. It depresses the level of carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) in the lungs. The buildup of CO 2 is what stimulates the brain to inform the body of an  urgent need to breathe. Lacking the urge to surface and fill his lungs with air, an underwater swimmer could pass out from hypoxia, the depletion of oxygen. His lungs would be instantly flooded with water when breathing does kick in. 

We do not want to scare any of our swimmer, but we want all of you to be aware that this is a very dangerous activity for our swimmers to do, please do not play around and see who can hold their breath the longest underwater.  Our team coaches are trained to keep our swimmers safe and we do not want a tragic accident like this to happen to any of our swimmers.  We do care about all of you and want you all to stay safe while still having fun during swim practice and at swim meets.  Once swim practice is over for the day, you must exit the pool, no staying in and playing around in the swim lanes.  There is no coach supervision once practice is over.   

When you have a chance please click on the link below and watch the video talking about Shallow Water Blackout. I saw this link on USA Swimming's website and thought I would share it with you.  

USA Swimming's website,, is a very useful website to learn more about the sport of swimming.  All of our swim families should go on that website on a regular basis, they always have new articles featured and several excellent tips about swimming, meets, nutrition, etc.   You can also track your meet swim times from the USA swimming website.  


Bob Bowman is best known for coaching the 18-time Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps. Together with Cathy Bennett he discusses the very serious topic of Shallow Water Blackout. Even experienced athletes can become a victim of this tragic phenomenon where oxygen is deprived from a swimmer's system during practice which can lead to drowning. This insightful presentation will help to prepare even highly experienced coaches to provide a safer environment for their swimmers.