Hawaii Swimmer Had Heart Condition -- March 6, 2003
HONOLULU, March 6. MIKE Sheldt, the 18 year-old University of Hawaii swimmer who died during practice on Tuesday afternoon, was suffering from a serious heart condition, an autopsy revealed yesterday.
Sheldt had hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a disorder of the heart muscle that generally includes enlargement of the heart and a thickening of the walls of the left
The city medical examiner's office said the disorder was "a contributing factor" in the young man's death.
Coach Mike Anderson and team physician Dr. Andrew Nichols said they had not been aware Sheldt had any medical problems. "All the kids are required to undergo a thorough screening with our medical staff before the season starts," Anderson said. "There was nothing that indicated, at that time, any pre-existing conditions."
A teammate pulled Sheldt from the bottom of the pool at the school's Duke Kahanamoku Aquatics Complex and attempted to resuscitate him. Paramedics and Dr. Nichols were immediately called to the scene and they, too, tried unsuccessfully to resuscitate him with a portable defibrillator. He was taken to Straub Clinic & Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
"[Mike's] training partner noticed he'd gone down, said U.H. Athletic Director Herman Frazier. "I had heard perhaps 15 seconds or so, and we reacted and responded as quickly as possible."
There were more than 20 people in or around the pool at the time of the accident. Frazier said safety precautions were followed "by the book."
University President Evan Dobelle commented: "I knew Mike well and he was a promising young athlete and scholar. His loss is personally devastating to me, and I am struggling to make sense of a situation that has no explanation."
School officials have counseled Sheldt's grieving teammates, who practiced Wednesday.
"This is what Mike would've wanted -- is his teammates to go on without him," Coach Anderson said. "It's with a broken heart and a lot of sadness. Our kids and our coaches, we're showing some cracks, but we're not broken and we're going to go on."
Sheldt's parents arrived in Honolulu last night from their home in Charlotte N.C., where their son had made his mark as a high school state champion swimmer and a member of the National Honor Society.