Nitro Swimming’s Emergency Response Saves 15-Year-Old’s Life

nitro-swimming
Photo Courtesy: Mantaray Photo

How will YOU react when seconds count?

The practice started out like they always do at Nitro. It was Wednesday, September 16, and the late senior group had made it through their warm up and their pre-set. It was 8:22 p.m. and they were just wrapping up a hard kick set with boards. Legs were burning as the kids made it into their final wall.

But one athlete didn’t look like himself as he floated/coasted into the wall (which is not how we finish any set at Nitro).

Two coaches noticed something was amiss immediately, and began asking questions:

“Are you alright?”
“Say something.”
“Can you talk?”

No response other than some wheezing and a glassy stare from this 15-year-old.

8:23PM: They helped him out of the water, thinking he was going to throw up, turned him on his side. No vomiting.
They turned him back over on his back, checked pulse, and detected nothing.

8:24PM: “Go Get the AED! Call 911! Clear the pool!! Get the kids into the locker areas!” CPR was started immediately.

In the viewing bleachers, as good fortune would have it, was a doctor. A few seats away, a nurse. Just a few more seats down was a commander for the Austin/Travis County EMS. All three of them sprang into action as soon as they saw compressions from across the pool.

Our coaches and our three parents never gave up.

Fifteen full cycles of CPR. Two shocks with the AED. EMS arrived alongside with their equipment at 8:31:50 p.m. The boy miraculously regained consciousness after no pulse/no breathing for over seven minutes!

He has recovered, is back at school, but unfortunately will not be returning to competitive sports. Further tests at the hospital revealed he had a heart defect called Long QT syndrome, which led to the cardiac arrest episode called Torsades de pointes. The doctors all agreed that CPR alone would not have saved his life. The AED was what made the difference.

A few takeaways:

1. Always watch the water! Your first priority, always, is to ensure your athlete’s safety. And they are ALL your athletes.

2. The fast action of the coaching staff AND use of the AED is what saved this young athlete’s life.

3. If you don’t have an AED on-site, get one ASAP. If you do have one, make sure the pads are not expired and that you have adult AND child’s pads. Also, it’s good practice to continuously check the battery.

4. Everyone played their roles to perfection, from the first recognition that something wasn’t quite right, the 911/AED command being given, the clearing of the pool, hustling the kids into the respective locker areas until area was clear, the extra assistance the coaching staff received, all made it look like we’ve done this a hundred times before. It was our first (and hopefully last) incident.

Parting comment

When the athlete regained consciousness, he only had two concerns– He needed to get his homework done…and was he still going to be able to swim in the meet that weekend?!

Safe swimming to everyone,

Mike Koleber, Nitro Swimming Head Coach

17 comments

  1. Rick Cockcroft

    Great response , and glad they had the tools.

    years ago I motivated for an AED for our pool, and the committee turned it down. I then went to the next meeting and made a statement , which changed their mind.

    I stood up and said I was surprised that the committee had decided a life was not worth $1200 ( the cost of the AED).

  2. avatar
    Terri

    So very thankful for a second chance at life for this young man. God was certainly at work that evening, divinely placing people who would unknowingly participate in and witness this miracle! A big thank you to the coaching staff, parent assistants, and EMS for their efforts in helping to save this swimmer’s life. We love our Nitro family!

    Nitro on 3, Nitro on 3…1,2,3…NITRO!!!

  3. avatar
    JefftheSwimmer

    Two things. If anybody reading this, especially adult swimmers and parents of a swimmer and do not have CPR/AED training from the Red Cross sign up and take it. The whole class takes a few hours. You learn to use the defibrillator. Its very simple.

    Be sure in your community your pool and school and work place has one. Tina Charles, USA professional basketball player and Olympic gold medalist has a non profit charity called Hopey’s Heart named after her aunt who died of cardiac arrest and would have lived with an AED present. Her charity purchases AED’s for schools, businesses etc. etc. etc.

  4. Karen Shineflug Moore

    We had this exact thing happen in Chicago a few weeks ago. Thankfully, the same outcome as well.

  5. avatar
    Craig Siegel

    Great save. For reasons that are unclear to me as a cardiologist, routine ECG screening of all teenage athletes is not currently recommended in the U.S.

  6. Angela Baker

    Way to go Nitro! Great job of knowing what to do and acting quickly!

  7. avatar
    Dakota Phillips

    Great work guys! Happy the swimmer made it out and there was a great collection of coaches and parents equipped to handle the situation.

  8. avatar

    Way to go Nitro! Was so impressed with all of you when I heard about this story! Keep up the great work teaching and taking care of kids!

  9. avatar
    Sachin

    Great Job..

  10. avatar
    Kathy Goudeket

    No surprise. Proof that you train your people well. Great reminder to us all.

  11. Audrey Barto Wells

    Love the parting comments. …. Shows how awesome and dedicated swimmers are, and the whole article, how their parents and coaches area as well.