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Shallow Water Blackout Prevention

Lifeguard on standby at a pool

The practice of hyperventilating and repetitive breath holding is not permitted in CAF swimming pools during recreation, military fitness and sport activities.

There are approximately 140,000 deaths annually to drowning worldwide. It is estimated by a number of sources that Shallow Water Blackout (SWB) is responsible for up to 20% of all drownings. As well, it is thought that nearly all drownings or near drownings by advanced or elite swimmers is the result of SWB.

Described for years by the US Naval center and the training of Navy Seals and Divers, SWB is now coming to the forefront for prevention by a number of groups including USA Swimming, the American Red Cross as well as several European and Australian Swimming Associations.

What is Shallow Water Blackout?

Shallow Water Blackout (SWB) It is an underwater “faint” due to a lack of oxygen to the brain brought on by holding your breath for long periods. Without immediate rescue, any swimmer quickly drowns.

Although underwater breath holding has often been viewed in the past as a low-risk childhood activity, the dangers of SWB are becoming more widely recognized more specifically in environment where achievement and pushing boundaries is part of the culture.

In 2019, PSP updated the aquatics policy stipulating that the practice of hyperventilating and repetitive breath holding shall not be permitted in CAF swimming pools during recreation, military fitness and sport activities.

How to fight that Silent KILLER

  • Do not encourage prolonged breath holding, breath holding contest or hypoxic training    
  • Do not encourage does not improve oxygen capacity
  • Obey the lifeguards and coaches when they ask you to stop
  • Speak to your Fitness and Sports instructor for safer training options