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Thread: Underwater swim

  1. #1
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    Underwater swim

    I have been swimming at a local YMCA for the past 11 years. They have had an on again and off again (mostly off) Masters program. I try to swim 3-4 times a week and have always performed essentially the same "routine" before my swim.
    Recently, I have been warned, and notified that I am at risk of being kicked out of the pool for my warm-up routine.

    I am fully aware of the risks involving hypoxic blackout. There seems to be some unclear rules regarding "No breath Holding", "only swim 2/3 the length underwater", "only swim 3/4 the length underwater" etc.

    Is this behavior unreasonably dangerous?

    Any suggestions?

    As a routine practice, I have always performed the following actions prior to my swimming workout:

    • Kind of a weird thing but I always make it a habit of not ‘testing’ the water before jumping in. (Weird I know… but it’s habit)
    • I place my goggles on my head standing at pools edge and jump in.
    • I quickly surface, take a breath and perform a dolphin kick swim underwater the length of the pool. (25 Yds).
    • Upon surfacing, I begin a series of leisurely freestyle strokes, and transition to drills before engaging in my main sets that are approx. 2500-4000 yds.


    At no time whatsoever, do I attempt to engage in hyperventilation followed by underwater breath holding, or repetitive underwater laps. Never!

  2. #2
    Very Active Member JPEnge's Avatar
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    Re: Underwater swim

    At one pool I lifeguarded at in college, there was a guy that would come in and swim an entire workout consisting of underwater laps of breaststroke pulldowns. He would go so slowly and stand so completely still with his head bowed in between each length that it was extremely unnerving. But, being that it was an old-money country club with that accompanying sense of entitlement from members and there was no specific pool rule against what he was doing, there wasn't much I could do.

    I guess my point is, depending on how you look doing your underwater length, I can understand the lifeguards' trepidation.

    Have you tried explaining yourself? If you have and haven't gotten anywhere, you might just have to drop that portion of your warmup if you wish to continue swimming at that pool.
    400 IMer/200 backstroker in another life, now sprinter/breaststroker... Yeah, I don't know how that happened either!

  3. #3
    Moderator Rob Copeland's Avatar
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    Re: Underwater swim

    Is this behavior unreasonably dangerous?
    Maybe not for you, but it may be for someone sees you doing this and tries to emulate your underwater swim. It’s kind of like diving into the shallow end. For many of us we can dive into 3 ½ feet of water with no risk. But, this could be catastrophic for someone else trying to dive because they saw me dive. That’s why our pool has rules against diving in the shallow end.
    Any suggestions?
    Personally, I’d change my routine instead of being kicked out of the pool. If your pool has a rule or guideline prohibiting underwater swimming, then go ahead and follow the rule or talk to the aquatics director about changing the rule. Please don’t debate it with the lifeguards, they are just trying to enforce the rules they have been told to enforce.
    The opinions expressed in the above post are mine and not those of U.S. Masters Swimming.

  4. #4
    Very Active Member ForceDJ's Avatar
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    Re: Underwater swim

    Well...this policy isn't isolated. The pool I swim at (and also work part-time as a lifeguard) is on a Navy training base. The base is home to Navy divers, a few SEALs who are out of the usual SEAL tour rotation, and sailors training to get into the SEAL training program. All of the above are required to swim lengths of the pool underwater. However, the pool is primarily for recreational use (i.e. lap swimming). Consequently, they are NOT permitted to do it during recreational/lap swim times. This type of swimming/workout requires more supervision than just regular lap swimming. The pool can be reserved for specific training such as this...with proper/qualified supervision and instructors.


    Dan

  5. #5
    Very Active Member orca1946's Avatar
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    Re: Underwater swim

    For your swims to continue - can you take one breath in the middle to ease the guards concern?

  6. #6
    Very Active Member knelson's Avatar
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    Re: Underwater swim

    Quote Originally Posted by swimnfit View Post

    • Kind of a weird thing but I always make it a habit of not ‘testing’ the water before jumping in. (Weird I know… but it’s habit)
    Not weird at all. I think testing the water before getting in is weird especially in a known pool.

  7. #7
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    Re: Underwater swim

    Thanks for all the replies and suggestions. In no way will I do anything to risk my ability to use this pool. I also understand fully the challenge that lifeguards face. I have been a lifeguard and a Search And Rescue swimmer in the Navy as well. I think what I am trying to find out is if there is a consensus among various agencies, pools etc as to what behavior or indicators that are used to reduce risk. (ex. No Running, No Diving, No Horseplay) to Hypoxic blackout. Simply stating, "No Breath Holding is allowed" is ridiculous on it's face for anyone entering the water. Are there examples of good rules for lifeguards to enforce? This is a difficult balance for certain since Guards could easily be watching for, and enforcing underwater swimming yet miss the person sitting beside the edge of the pool, hyperventilating and ducking their head under and blacking out. One rule that I ran across states "One Breath, One length, One Time, Only!" Not certain if that's a good enough universal kind of rule but interested in thoughts.

  8. #8
    Very Active Member ForceDJ's Avatar
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    Re: Underwater swim

    Quote Originally Posted by swimnfit View Post
    . I think what I am trying to find out is if there is a consensus among various agencies, pools etc as to what behavior or indicators that are used to reduce risk. (ex. No Running, No Diving, No Horseplay) to Hypoxic blackout. Simply stating, "No Breath Holding is allowed" is ridiculous on it's face for anyone entering the water. Are there examples of good rules for lifeguards to enforce? This is a difficult balance for certain since Guards could easily be watching for, and enforcing underwater swimming yet miss the person sitting beside the edge of the pool, hyperventilating and ducking their head under and blacking out. One rule that I ran across states "One Breath, One length, One Time, Only!" Not certain if that's a good enough universal kind of rule but interested in thoughts.

    Well, you might also want to check with the pool's insurance provider. Many of the rules the lifeguard/pool enforces are mandated by their insurance company (the way my homeowner's policy says I've got to have a fence around the pool in my yard. And the insurance is more if I have a diving board.) And...states also mandate certain rules...i.e. All personnel are required to shower before entering the pool. Some rules may not be as enforced as others, but they are required rules. So try as you may...I doubt that you'll get the policy changed at your pool. For what it's worth, the rule/signage at my (Navy) pool says "No long distance under water swimming."

    Dan
    Last edited by ForceDJ; June 1st, 2018 at 11:55 AM.

  9. #9
    Very Active Member __steve__'s Avatar
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    Re: Underwater swim

    Another thing to consider is that though leisure 25 UW’s might not be hazardous to yourself, someone without experience might be encouraged to give it a try.

    That’s the explanation I got anyways

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