How to Cool Off and Stay Safe in Public Pools

The cool, glistening waters of public pools are certainly seductive on a hot summer day. But if they’re not properly maintained and treated, these public pools spread germs that can cause unpleasant illnesses and ruin the fun. Here’s what you need to know to stay safe (and cool) in a public pool.

Source: How to Cool Off and Stay Safe in Public Pools

“Another One Bites the Dust” works too, but you might not want to be caught humming it while doing CPR. 😉

You could teach swimmers to communicate their status over the water, the same way scuba divers do under it. If I point at a kid, they need to make a fist and tap the top of their head with it. That’s the “I’m okay” sign. If I don’t get a response, I need to go get you.  That said, I’ve swam in water where visibility is 6 ft at most, with goggles.

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How Learning to Swim Changed Over the Course of American History

Now that the dog days of July have arrived, you’ve probably given some thought to taking a dip. But first, you might consider some beach tips from a pair of books—both from the historical medical collection here at the New York Academy of Medicine, published in 1818 and 1918—once used to teach swimming. Of course, some advice has aged better than others.

Source: How Learning to Swim Changed Over the Course of American History

It’s an interesting read, to see how complete the instruction books were for the time period.  I do think swimming is one of the life skills you need to learn.  It was highlighted for our local community recently because there were a few drownings in the past year by tourists.  The local lakes and parks haven’t had lifeguards for as long as I’ve been a kid, but then drowning is silent (contrary to TV/movie/media).

Lots of people I’ve met have used swimming training for triathlon to address & conquer their fear of the water.  To my knowledge, they are largely successful.  One found out they loved open water swimming – they just waited for everyone to leave before starting off.  This person was finding that swimming in a pool was triggering her anxiety now, but she still doesn’t quite understand what the trigger is.  Lots I know do not like swimming through weeds, which can happen in open water.  Meh – it’s unnerving for a moment when you touch one but it’s not likely to get tangled & cause problems.

PSAdvisory: Why Rescuers Die While Drowning Victims Survive

It only takes a couple of inches of water to drown someone.  Water wings are a poor babysitter.

There are many terrible examples of a person coming to the rescue of a drowning victim only to drown themselves. It’s so common that there’s a name for it — aquatic victim instead of rescuer syndrome, or AVIR syndrome. But there are many reasons rescuers can drown while many of the people they rescue survive.

Source: Why Rescuers Die While Drowning Victims Survive

Why do people die trying to rescue people? No training, coupled with years of exposure to practices that are down right false when it comes to life saving.  If you are not trained, do not attempt a rescue.

There are four levels of swimmer in this sort of analysis:

  1. Active Swimmer: Making good progress through the water, body horizontal good breath control.
  2. Distressed Swimmer: progress slows, still has breath control, body position begins to dip from the horizontal.  Important: can still shout for help
  3. Active Drowning: Body position nearly vertical, head back, no thrust from arm motion. All energy expended goes to keeping the head out of water. Arms move up and down at the sides (no typical “swimming stroke motion”).  Important: no breath control
  4. Passive Drowning: unmoving floating or sitting on the bottom, unconscious.

Active drowning victims have no breath control.  Since they have no breath control, they also make very little noise – they can not shout for help.  They are 100% focused on living at all costs. They are in what is called “The Instinctive Drowning Response”. Meaning you float, and they don’t – they will lunge, grab, and otherwise crawl on/over you to get out of the water. This is why you approach from the back, out of eye sight and grab people, or barring that, fix their attention and then dive around them and grab them.  To reiterate: Never approach an active drowning victim from the front – they will kill you.

Are you a swimming on blood thinners?  I got pulled from the water in a local Sprint distance triathlon a little over 6 months ago.  It was windy, and the lake is large so there was no protection – to date, that was the roughest fresh water I’ve swam in.  My arms felt like lead, but I’d experienced shoulder soreness that I could push through before so I kept going.  I was having difficulty catching my breath 20-30 meters before the first bouy, and it got bad enough started alternating rolling onto my back.  It didn’t improve, and medical staff in a boat called out to me.  I got to the boat, still couldn’t breath well so I got into the boat.  This was where the fun began…

Once in the boat and out of the water, I remember still having issues breathing but feeling phelgmy.  Like when you have a chest cold, needing to hawk up…  So I did, and spat over the side of the boat.  Immediately the crew in the zodiac said they were taking me to the hospital.  It wasn’t until I got to shore that I saw that I was continually spitting up blood.  Automatic ambulance ride…

My INR was tested at the hospital – it was 2, maybe a little above.  What the doctor surmised was the exertion combined with being a “bleeder” (meaning, being on blood thinner) led to bleeding into the lungs at the alveoli.  It happens to normal people, but with the decreased clotting those of us on blood thinner are more prone to something like this happening.   So I was quickly cleared, and spent the next couple of days still coughing up the remaining blood and occasional clot.  No one said anything, but I’d set that if I was still coughing clots on the third day I’d seek a medical  opinion in case there wasn’t enough healing occurring.  I was fine on the third day.

I swam open water two days later, with a whistle and a notion to swim very carefully.  It was fine, and with time I’ve gotten better.  I’ve also found swimming next to fast people in the pool who create a lot of wake can be beneficial.  Though I hate getting a mouth full of water as I’m trying to breathe, the repeated experience allowed me to get over the fear and anxiety so I can recover in the water without loosing my swim stroke.  You don’t improve if you ignore the issue, but be careful and gradual.