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Freediving Ban

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
It can take a long time to get an up-to-date response or contact with relevant users.

ggarrett

New Member
Feb 13, 2005
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For some time I have been a passive reader of these forums but an issue came to my attention which seemed important enough for me put my silence aside.

Yesterday, the managing lifeguard at the Cheyenne Municipal Pool in Wyoming handed me a copy of an article that appeared in the February 2005 issue of Aquatics International magazine which circulates to pool managers (private, municipal, and school pools) across the United States and presumably throughout the world. This article by Walter Griffiths and Tom Griffiths is titled "Dying for Air" and subtitled in the magazine with "Prolonged underwater breath holding is a silent, overlooked, killer. Here's why the practice should be banned."

You may read the entire article at http://www.aquaticsintl.com/2005/feb/0502_perspectives.html I found this article to be misinformed, alarmist, and to sensationalize

The inspiration for the article is the death of young man over ten years from presumably underwater breath-holding. He supposedly was practicing "hypoxic training (competitive and repetitive breath-hold swimming) that evening." What is unclear is whether he was practicing alone by himself after hours. The article states that he was found "the next day."

The article attributes his death to "shallow water blackout." From my understanding of shallow water blackout, it occurs mostly or maybe exclusively in depth apnea disciplines like constant weight when returning to the surface and the partial pressure of O2 and CO2 changes due to lower water pressure near the surface. The article goes on put forth the usual knowledge about CO2 triggering breath, low levels of O2, and endorphins. In conclusion, it calls for lifeguards to stop anyone practicing apnea and to recover anyone who is underwater. It states that "lifeguards, competitive swimmers and others must never be allowed to compete underwater." In my opinion, this article exemplifies the old adage that "a little knowledge can be dangerous."

This article may jeopardize our ability as freedivers to practice apnea in swimming pools. I know that I will now have to educate the management and lifeguards of the various pools in Cheyenne about apnea despite over three years of practicing safely in their pools. The authority that comes from the printed word in an international magazine could make it difficult. In additional, this article could harm public perception of freediving and might make obtaining insurance more difficult. With this misinformation in print, it could lead to other and more widespread article, reports, and features which might possibly shut freedivers out of swimming pools everywhere.

I humbly ask the leaders of the freediving community to contact Aquatics International and ask to publish a rebuttal article correcting the misinformation put forth in "Dying for Air." I would suggest that the presidents of USAA, CAFA, and AIDA together might bring sufficient clout to realize such a request. Determining the circumstances of this death might also determine whether this young man was acting responsibly. It's best to nip this error in the bud before it becomes a widespread and massive problem.

I know that I will need some back-up and some credible references when talking to our local pool managers. A rebuttal article in the same magazine would assure them that the practice can be safe.

In peace,
Glen
 

quasimoto

New Member
Oct 27, 2004
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WOW.

that was very innacurate and misleading. Although i have no real power, i would like to email them about it, so if someone could post an email adress i could send it to where it would actually be read, that would be nice:)
im also suprised no one else has replied to this thread yet, i would think many people on here would get worked up about it
 

Freediver81

The Arabian Stallion
Feb 5, 2004
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"IGNORANCE is a silent, overlooked, killer. Here's why the practice should be banned."

Quotation from my article on why a##holes like the author of the "dying for air" article shouldn't be writing on a subject that they have no knowledge of!


Said
 

Noel

New Member
Feb 1, 2005
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The email address for these folks is [email protected].

I'm sending off a POLITE letter. Hopefully enough of us can do the same that it will make a difference.
 

Pocoshower

happy when diving
Nov 9, 2004
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I am pretty sure that more poeple died playing soccer last year than training apnea correctly.

¡¡¡So, please stop soccer games too!!!

Ignorance; It can not be beaten by common arguments.
 

jome

Well-Known Member
Jul 5, 2004
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I'm going to have to disagree somewhat. Aside from a couple of misconseptions about SWBO etc, I found the article to be pretty close to how I feel.

The part I have a problem with is that it calls for a ban on organized competetive freediving. That's not the problem. The problem is unorganized, casual, solo breath-holders, like the guy that was mentioned in the article. The ones that don't have a buddy and no-one knows they're there doing what they're doing.

If anything, we should endorse organized freediving. Ie. it is absolutely banned in the pool EXCEPT at certain times when freedivers can come to train and the pool personnel is up to date on what they're doing and proper security (buddy system) is provided.

Now competitive freediving is a bit of two edged sword. Yes, it does make people push their limits. But the fact is, people are competitive, you can't just rub that off of them. If not allowed to compete in a pool, they will do so somewhere else, which is potentially much more dangerous. Kind of like teenage sex. It would be nice if they all would with hold from it, but they won't, so it's better to keep them at least educated about the risks...Just trying to ban it will solve nothing. Better to have organized freediving competitions, where people can do their thing supervised and we can distribute information in a centralized way.

Let's not kid ourselves. If the basic security is not provided, then apnea is indeed a very dangerous activity. Much more so than soccer. When done right, it can be relatively safe.

Just please, don't flame the author of the article with something like "you ignorant fool, we freedivers know better so shut up!". If you do decide to write to him, do in in a constructive way, trying to get the message above across...Flaming will just make things worse. With a few corrections and changes that article could be very useful for the target group (lifeguards).

I for one wouldn't mind if the lifeguards were more alert and educated about apnea. A total and complete ban is another story...
 
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Ben Gowland

Aplysia gowlandicus
Apr 4, 2002
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This takes me back...

A similar thing happened in the UK a few years ago - bt it has almost been forgotten now.

Our BFA safety in swimming pool rules were designed specifically to deal with this kind of misinformation - Alun is it worth sending them a copy?

Ben
 

Veronika

Well-Known Member
Nov 13, 2003
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Hi,
I have to agree with jome - but not completely.
Freediving can both be a very safe and a very dangerous sport, depending on how you do it. The problem is that you have to know your limits and have the self-discipline and respect not to push them when you are freediving in a public pool without official Apnea Training times. Doing Apnea training without buddy and not telling the guards whats going on is not only stupid, but also unfair towards the guards. They are the ones that are responsible and have to drag you out of the water in case something goes wrong. I think I do not have to mention that an LMC (or even worse) in a case like this will not exactly make freediving gain supporters.
I do, nevertheless, find the article both uninformed and ignorant, stating things like "Some Web sites even encourage breath-holding competitions [...]". So what ? Some TV broadcasts also show that driving a car in circles at 300km/h obviously must be great fun. Nobody complains about that.

Just my 2cc.

Veronika
 

Alun

Well-Known Member
Oct 5, 2001
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if you want a copy of the pool document, then send me an email
 
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naiad

Apnea Carp
Supporter
Oct 11, 2003
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I agree that athletes, competitive swimmers, lifeguards etc should be informed about the dangers of breath-holding, as I am sure that many accidents happen simply because of not knowing that there is any risk.

However, I feel that freedivers already have a very hard time convincing pool staff, scuba diving clubs, friends and relatives that their sport is reasonably safe if practised correctly, and that sort of article can only make matters worse. It doesn't explain that if practised safely and in a designated diving session it is an acceptable and recognised sport.

Lifeguards should also be more alert. Some are very good, but many are not paying much attention to what is happening in the pool. Many accidents can happen which have nothing to do with apnea (heart attacks, fatigue, cramp, non-swimmers in trouble, accidents caused by showing off...) - would these be attended to on time? If freedivers in trouble are often ignored, why would these cases be any different?

Lucia
 

jome

Well-Known Member
Jul 5, 2004
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Ok, I have to take some of what I said back. That article needs a lot of work. But still, with modifications I think it could be useful...

I didn't mean that everybody should be a competitive freediver, but that apnea training should be organized. Like here in Tampere (and in other cities in Finland as well), we have one lane reserved to us for a couple of hours two times a week. This works really well.
-Anyone interested in apnea can come join us
-We have the lane for ourselves, not having to worry about bumping into other people
-Lifegurads know "ok, its wed 19:00, those apneists will be at lane 1 again" and can prepare accordingly.

I think this is much better than people just going in at random, alone and training on the hope that if they black out, life guard might happen to glance their way.

In my opinnion apnea training outside those times could and even should be banned. I know I wouldn't care, since those are the times I train anyway. This way everybody wins and the lifeguards are happy. Outside such controlled sessions, it would be very hard for a lifeguard to spot someone in a crowded pool. It would be much simpler to assume that if someone is laying at the bottom, is an emergency and not to worry if it's just some freediver pissed at you because you ruin his pb in bottom static.

In my experience the staff at most pools is fairly open to such arrangements if you just take the time to carefully explain to them what you're doing and especially what you're doing to ensure everybody is safe. Please have some compassion towards the guards too and make their job as easy as possible. It's not their job to just sit there, they're responsible for your lives (in worst case). It's a pretty big responsibility and I know if I was trusted with someone's life my sense of humour might be a bit low in terms of practical jokes or wreckless behaviour.
 
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subaquaticus

Fond of the Red Sea
Oct 10, 2004
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jome said:
Ok, I have to take some of what I said back. That article needs a lot of work. But still, with modifications I think it could be useful...

I didn't mean that everybody should be a competitive freediver, but that apnea training should be organized. Like here in Tampere (and in other cities in Finland as well), we have one lane reserved to us for a couple of hours two times a week. This works really well.
-Anyone interested in apnea can come join us
-We have the lane for ourselves, not having to worry about bumping into other people
-Lifegurads know "ok, its wed 19:00, those apneists will be at lane 1 again" and can prepare accordingly.

I think this is much better than people just going in at random, alone and training on the hope that if they black out, life guard might happen to glance their way.

In my opinnion apnea training outside those times could and even should be banned. I know I wouldn't care, since those are the times I train anyway. This way everybody wins and the lifeguards are happy. Outside such controlled sessions, it would be very hard for a lifeguard to spot someone in a crowded pool. It would be much simpler to assume that if someone is laying at the bottom, is an emergency and not to worry if it's just some freediver pissed at you because you ruin his pb in bottom static.

In my experience the staff at most pools is fairly open to such arrangements if you just take the time to carefully explain to them what you're doing and especially what you're doing to ensure everybody is safe. Please have some compassion towards the guards too and make their job as easy as possible. It's not their job to just sit there, they're responsible for your lives (in worst case). It's a pretty big responsibility and I know if I was trusted with someone's life my sense of humour might be a bit low in terms of practical jokes or wreckless behaviour.
I very much agree with your views and the way apnea is treated in your country...

You seem to have established excellent collaboration with the lifeguards :inlove ...

just a question of vocabulary : what does pb stand for ?

in terms of mentality and acceptance of freediving, your country :thankyou seems much ahead of mine...

in your country people are more disciplined...

in mine there is an atmosphere of tension :ko in swimming pools between lifeguards and apneists... freediving is not yet entered in lifeguards' landscape :naughty and the dangers of apnea are not well widespread in the minds of many apprentice apneists... communication is sometimes difficult :rcard ...
 
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Ntrik

Well-Known Member
Jan 27, 2004
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Apnea training in UK pools has not been an easy thing for me largely because of misinformation and inflexibility of the lifeguards. The most baffling answer I have received from a lifeguard was in a pool in Colchester, where I was told a full face mask was against "regulations". The usual thing im told elsewhere is that my fins might potentially injure other swimmers which I accept. But thats where it stops without anybody suggesting anything. They say you cant swim with your blades or a mask on without offering an alternative and silently wish for you and your apneistic posterior to f off. So most of the time all that you can do without a "battle" is statics and no fins dynamics...and if you dont like it you can swim anti-clockwise around the lane like everyone else.
 

subaquaticus

Fond of the Red Sea
Oct 10, 2004
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Ntrik said:
Apnea training in UK pools has not been an easy thing for me largely because of misinformation and inflexibility of the lifeguards. The most baffling answer I have received from a lifeguard was in a pool in Colchester, where I was told a full face mask was against "regulations". The usual thing im told elsewhere is that my fins might potentially injure other swimmers which I accept. But thats where it stops without anybody suggesting anything. They say you cant swim with your blades or a mask on without offering an alternative and silently wish for you and your apneistic posterior to f off. So most of the time all that you can do without a "battle" is statics and no fins dynamics...and if you dont like it you can swim anti-clockwise around the lane like everyone else.

interesting post...

in the Parisian municipal swimming pools, the rule is no fins and no masks... they forbid static apnea but allow dynamic apnea under condition that there is a supervision by a lifeguard...

in the pool of Chatillon-Malakoff ; they allow finswimming but forbid the snorkel ! they also forbid the mask, the reason being an old regulation from the times where masks made out glass might break and hurt you...

in Saint Germain-en-Laye, they allow fins, but not too long and not too stiff ! they strictly forbid apnea...

I heard that in Grenoble, they allow you to practice apnea provided you have a buddy watching you...

In my opinion, static apnea is very dangerous... when somebody does not move, he might be alive ... or dead... who knows ?

an apneist doing dynamic apnea will quickly get noticed if he blacks out...
 
O

octopus

Guest
Banning an activity like this can make it only more dangerous, not less. It is very shallow approach to safety. People taking up freediving (or other non-conventional sports) will certanly be at bigger risk if their try to learn about it on their own, by trial and error. I am of opinion this is the main reason for poor safety record in freediving, as it is not very often that one can repeat their mistakes. :(

The way to make it safer is to educate,train people, to regulate the sport, not to ban it. Ban is not going to stop any of us (including newbies) doing it, it'll just make us push our limits in less convinient and probably less safe place than pool.

This site (and some others) is one of the best things that ever happend to freediving. Cheers. :)
 
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cdavis

Well-Known Member
Jan 21, 2003
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gg, thanks for the heads up. The article was pretty ignorant, even if some of what they had to say deal with real dangers.

I sent in a polite email, no need to get nasty, we have a lot of facts on our side. I hope AIDA will pick up on this.

Connor
 
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Pocoshower

happy when diving
Nov 9, 2004
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Veronika said:
stating things like "Some Web sites even encourage breath-holding competitions [...]".
Veronika

Sure our sport is dangerous, but I think that freediving web sites has a lot of information about safety. (No safety information at soccer web sites, he)

People here are realy concerned about the safety, during diving or training sessions. Let's say, If someone set a thread with something going dangerous, many people reply with safety advices. I like that.

Can't say nothing about safety rules in public pools, the nearest are 600 km from my place :duh

Cheers
 

jome

Well-Known Member
Jul 5, 2004
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I had no idea it's like that in other countries, even ones that are what I'd call traditional apnea countries. I guess we're pretty privilidged then. Maybe it's just such a new thing here, that no one's had the time to think about banning it.

Good luck to you guys. The best counter measure would be to write a short, fact filled and informative article that does not push the blame to anyone else, and forward it to the appropriate people. Sounds like the BFA article is spot on. Also it helps to organize into clubs etc, you'll have much more pull to effect things that way. They'll be reluctant to give a special permission to an individual, but they might be more willing if it was a national AIDA branch etc...

I agree that compelete ban is no way to secure anything. Unfortunately this kind of "out of sight, out of mind" approach to security is all to common in humanity...
 

naiad

Apnea Carp
Supporter
Oct 11, 2003
2,897
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octopus said:
Banning an activity like this can make it only more dangerous, not less. It is very shallow approach to safety. People taking up freediving (or other non-conventional sports) will certanly be at bigger risk if their try to learn about it on their own, by trial and error. I am of opinion this is the main reason for poor safety record in freediving, as it is not very often that one can repeat their mistakes. :(

The way to make it safer is to educate,train people, to regulate the sport, not to ban it. Ban is not going to stop any of us (including newbies) doing it, it'll just make us push our limits in less convinient and probably less safe place than pool.

This site (and some others) is one of the best things that ever happend to freediving. Cheers. :)
I agree. If there were no proper freediving clubs, people would not stop doing it, and more would decide to train alone. I used to push the limits alone before I knew any better.

Most of the pools I have gone to are very tolerant of our training. I hope that things stay that way.

Lucia
 

Erik

Well-Known Member
Jan 21, 2001
4,731
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octopus said:
The way to make it safer is to educate,train people, to regulate the sport, not to ban it. Cheers

I agree with all except 'regulate.' It may be semantics, but if you actually are suggestion that government get involved then I must disagree. A pool can regulate activities if they like as is their right, but I'd leave it at that.
Otherwise we could have Park Wardens asking to see our Freediving Licenses :ban Then I'd have to become a criminal ;)
Cheers too!
Erik Y.
 
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