Entries in Swimming (11)


10-Month-Old Twins Swim Length of Pool; Still Can’t Walk or Talk

File photo. iStockphoto/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- They can’t walk, they can’t talk -- but these 10-month-old twins sure can swim.

Ellie and William Trykush can already swim the entire length of a 25-foot pool without the assistance of their mother, a swim instructor.
The family discovered this hidden talent, when the twins, both born six weeks premature by emergency cesarean section, when vacationing in Cyprus, according to Britain's Daily Mail.  The babies began swimming underwater without flotation aids or help from their parents, Victor and Charlotte.

When the family returned from their trip, Charlotte took the children to the local pool where they each swam the entire 25-foot length of the pool, working their way up from five meters. The twins' mother swam underneath them on her back for their safety.

At 10 months, the twins now attend swim lessons twice each weekend, and swim for additional practice on the weekend, the Daily Mail reports.

Their father said he has his eyes set on the 2028 Olympics for his aquatic overachievers.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Swimmer Comes Back from Paralysis

Courtesy Dave Denniston(NEW YORK) -- Swimmer Dave Denniston had it all: Twice a top-five finisher at the Olympic Trials, a World Record Holder, a 15-time All-American and an NCAA National Champion.

That was before a fateful day in 2005 when a sledding accident left him paralyzed from the waist down, changing his life forever.

Denniston grew up in Wyoming with aspirations to become an Olympic athlete.  In high school, he shattered state records and was capturing the attention of college recruiters.

After Denniston graduated from Auburn he tried his success on the international level, competing in the 2000 and 2004 Olympic Trials.  His bids to join the U.S. Olympic team were unsuccessful, though, and after his 2004 attempt he decided to go back to Wyoming and wind down with some sledding, one of his favorite hobbies.

"I went up to the mountain with some friends and started to sled, and I decided to try sledding head first," he recalled.  "On my second try, I went down the mountain, I lost complete control of the sled.  I went into a grove of trees, and instead of hitting the tree with my face, I turned to my back at the very last second."

What came after the impact was the worst thing Denniston could have ever imagined.

"I was starting to spit up blood; the trees were spinning and worst of all... I couldn't feel my legs," he said.

While Denniston sat motionless on the snow, he recalled, an avalanche of possible scenarios flashed through his mind.  "Would I be confined to a wheelchair, or will I actually die?" he asked himself.

Denniston was flown to a nearby hospital, where he received the terrible news.

"It was when I was in the hospital when I found out I was paralyzed from the waist down, and I should get used to life in a wheelchair, because I would have little to no function in my legs," he said.

Denniston knew he still wanted to swim but he didn't know how to begin.  It was a visit from Jimi Flowers, the man who recruited Denniston to Auburn and who was also the head coach of the Paralympic swim team, that got him excited about swimming again.

"I loved being in the water, and I love the sport of swimming.  I also hadn't completely let go of the dream of competing for the United States in the Olympic Games," Denniston said.  "I wanted to be an Olympian, and I quickly saw that being a Paralympian was the exact same."

What followed was years of surgery, recovery, rehabilitation and training.  However, with Flowers' coaching, Denniston's dream became a reality when he made the U.S. swimming team for the 2008 Paralympic games.

"I had an overwhelming rush of pride when they announced my name," he said.  "I was able to hold back tears until I looked back at my parents and sister who were all in tears.  Then I lost it.  It's one of those life highlights I will never forget and was fortunate enough to experience again at the opening ceremonies in Beijing, with Jimi pushing me into the birds nest."

Today, Denniston is the coach of the 2012 Paralympic Resident Swim team in Colorado Springs -- the same position his mentor Flowers had before him.  Flowers died in a fall while climbing a mountain in Aspen in 2009.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Clean Bill of Health: Is Your Beach Safe for Swimming?

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- When it comes to U.S. beaches, it appears looks can be deceiving, according to a new report.

In its annual analysis out Wednesday, the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) rated 200 popular U.S. beaches, after examining their violation rates and practices regarding bacteria testing and public safety.

For 2011, 12 beaches earned a five-star rating. Among them were Alabama’s Gulf State Park Pavilion, Delaware’s Dewey Beach and Texas’ South Padre Island.

In the council’s report, it also listed “repeat offenders,” the nine beach areas in five states that for the last five years had exceeded the Environmental Protection Agency’s recommended standard for bacteria levels.

Those included New York’s Ontario Beach, Louisiana’s Constance Beach and Wisconsin’s South Shore Beach.

The council said the largest source of pollution was stormwater runoff.

“The 2011 results confirm that our nation’s beaches continue to experience significant water pollution that puts swimmers and local economies at risk,” the group said on its website.

The organization cautioned, however, that the label “repeat offender” did not mean the beach put the public at risk, just that the beachwater was of poor quality.

To find out how your beach ranks, enter your zip code here.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Protecting Yourself from Community Pool Health Hazards

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- When you dive into the cool, crisp water at your local pool on a hot summer day, concern over microbes may not be the first thing that goes through your mind.  But that chlorinated water may not be as clean as you would think.

In 2009, a survey by a group known as the Water Quality and Health Council found that one in five people urinate in the pool -- a problem that may have more implications for your health than the simple "ick factor."

The Water Quality and Health Council is sponsored by Chlorine Chemistry Division of the American Chemistry Council, an industry trade association.  It's a group that would arguably want people to have the cleanliness of their pools in mind.

Still, simple chemistry supports the notion that urine can actually deplete the chlorine levels in pools.  At the root of the problem is the interaction between the ammonia in urine and the chlorine in a pool, which forms a chemical called chloramine.

Aside from potentially giving off noxious fumes, chloramine, it turns out, is actually less effective at killing bacteria than chlorine, possibly leading to an increased risk of water-borne infections.

This might not be such a problem if people heeded the imperative commonly posted on signs at public pools that advises them to shower before they get into the water -- a step the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls "the first defense against germs that can make swimmers sick."  But the Water Quality and Health study revealed that nearly 70 percent of people taking a dip in the pool do not shower beforehand.

The CDC reports that in 2008, poor water quality led to one out of every eight public pool closings.  Those pool closings are for a good reason; past reports suggest many have fallen victim to infections from the pool.

One such victim is Brody Weiss, son of ex-Atlanta Braves Shortstop Walt Weiss.  Brody contracted E. coli from a recreation park wading pool in 1998 when he was 3-years-old.  After Brody became ill, tests at the park revealed chlorine levels below the level needed to kill E. coli.

And it's not just E. coli.  Health experts say that chloramine can also lead to wide varieties of bacterial infections including shigella, campylobacter, salmonella, hepatitis A and other forms of parasitic infections. In addition, chloramines -- not chlorine itself -- are often responsible for those stinging red eyes that we normally associate with a day at the pool.

The good news is that the CDC offers tips that you can follow to safeguard yourself and everyone around you when it comes to pool etiquette:

-- Don't swim when you have diarrhea.
-- Don't swallow pool water.
-- Practice good hygiene.  Shower with soap before swimming and after swimming.  Wash your hands after using the toilet or changing diapers.
-- If you are taking your kids to the pool, be sure to give them frequent bathroom breaks or check their diapers often.
-- Change diapers in a bathroom or a diaper-changing area, not at poolside.
-- Wash your children thoroughly (especially the rear end) with soap and water before they go swimming.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Breast Cancer Survivor Allowed to Swim Topless at Seattle Pool

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(SEATTLE) -- After failing to find swimsuits that fit comfortably, breast cancer survivor Jodi Jaecks asked the Seattle Parks and Recreation Department if she could swim topless at a local pool. At first their answer was no.

The aquatics manager for the Parks and Recreation department told Jaecks they require "gender-appropriate clothing" and therefore she would not be able to swim topless.

"I'm not an exhibitionistic kind of person. It's not my personality," Jaecks said. "I don't think of this as nudity. Not as it's generally perceived."

But after a Seattle weekly newspaper, The Stranger, ran a photo of Jaecks topless Wednesday, the Parks and Recreation superintendent changed his mind.

"This was a long-standing policy that had been in effect for a lot of years and it had never really been challenged," Dewey Potter, the communications manager for Seattle Parks and Recreation, told "The staff on the face of it did their job by following policy, but when the superintendent took a closer look he decided attitudes had shifted and he decided to allow this woman to swim and look at further cases one by one."

After hearing the superintendent's decision Wednesday, Jaecks, an Illinois native who moved to Seattle in 1991, decided not to swim and is adamant that this is not just about her but about all cancer patients.

"I never wanted this to be personal. This isn't about me specifically," Jaecks said. "Sure it started that way with my personal interest in swimming, but as soon as the department clarified their policy then it became much more political to me."

In March 2011, Jaecks, 45, found a lump in her right breast during a self-exam. Although her surgeon told her the lump was small enough to have a lumpectomy, Jaecks chose to have a double mastectomy without reconstructive surgery.

"I'm not neurotic but I knew that I would worry if I just had the one breast removed," Jaecks said. "I just felt like it was an empowering decision to make."

A topless photo of a breast cancer patient who had a double mastectomy ultimately led Jaecks to her decision.

"It's such a powerful image. She's so healthy and fit," Jaecks said. "It showed me I could be in shape again. I could be happy again."

Jaecks, who had always been fit, was eager to get back to a workout regimen. But when physical complications made it difficult for her to do activities she had done in the past such as biking, weightlifting and playing tennis, she looked to swimming after Jaecks' partner (Jaecks is gay) suggested swimming as a possible fitness option.  

Jaceks went searching for bathing suits that would fit without hurting her scars. At one particular store Jaecks tried on every type of swimsuit from one-pieces to rash guards, and even men's triathlon tops. But nothing felt right.

"They felt absolutely horrible," she said.

That's when she made the decision to swim topless.

"At some point it changed from being a physical comfort thing to why would I think of covering myself up," Jaecks said.

Although given the approval, Jaecks' decision not to swim, she says, comes from the Parks and Recreation department's not recognizing the overall issue.

"I didn't want this to be personal. I thought it was a bigger political issue," Jaecks said. "It's just all about trying to destigmatize cancer and cancer survivors and make people aware of the reality of cancer and in a less abstract way."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Dangerous Rip Currents Claim Lives at Florida Beaches

David McNew/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- An outbreak of rip currents at beaches in Florida has claimed several lives and endangered dozens more in recent days, prompting the National Weather Service to extend its public warnings to beachgoers.

Over this past weekend, two people drowned and more than 70 had to be rescued from rip currents in a single Florida county on the Atlantic coast, officials there told ABC News.

A 14-year-old boy went missing Sunday after getting caught in a rip current while swimming with friends at New Smyrna Beach, Fla. His body was found on shore Monday morning. Volusia County Beach Patrol Capt. Tammy Marris told ABC News that the teens were swimming at an unguarded beach, over 300 yards away from the nearest lifeguard.

The same day the boy went missing, a 66-year-old man died after getting caught in a rip current just off another beach in Volusia. He was pulled in by lifeguards but fell unconscious during the rescue process and did not recover, Marris said. Authorities have not released the identities of either victim.

The deaths follow another pair of fatal incidents that took place on Florida's opposite coast along the Gulf of Mexico the previous weekend.

There, 42-year-old Sonia Westmoreland died June 9 after she was caught in a rip current while trying to rescue her daughter and her daughter's two friends. The girls were saved by their father but Westmoreland was "blue around the mouth and non-responsive" when officers arrived, according to a police report obtained by ABC News. She died several days later.

Also on June 9, a 23-year-old Mississippi man drowned while swimming at an unguarded beach in Pensacola, Fla., according to the Pensacola News Journal.

Though the weekend is over, the threat from rip currents is not, according to the National Weather Service. Other Atlantic beaches, including Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach, faced a high risk until Monday afternoon.

What Is a Rip Current?

Rip currents are strong gushes of water that flow through a low point in a sandbar often away from beaches. The channeled force of the current can drag swimmers away from the shore at a rate of up to eight miles an hour.

"People are being pulled away from shore -- in a sense like a treadmill -- they are not able to get back in and, in most cases, due to their physical conditioning, or distance from the shore, or their swimming ability, the rip current takes a lot of out of them, and which then leads to potential fatalities," Gerry Falconer, a lieutenant with Miami Beach Ocean Rescue and president of the southeastern region of the United States Lifesaving Association, told ABC News in a 2005 20/20 special.

According to USLA statistics, which are self-reported by participating agencies, most drowning deaths blamed on rip currents occur at unguarded beaches. Last year the association counted 16 deaths due to rip currents at unguarded beaches and three at beaches where lifeguards were present.

"The most basic and important thing is to swim in front of a lifeguard tower, no matter what the conditions are," Marris said.

Falconer told ABC News that the frequency of drowning because of rip tides reveals a lack of awareness about the hazard.

"If people were out on the beach and the word 'shark' was used, they'd clear the water without a doubt, but to hear the word rip current, a lot of times, it has little effect…and it is just as deadly," he said.

The 2005 20/20 investigation highlighted the problem of drownings along the unguarded beaches of Florida's Panhandle.

Eight people drowned in one day in 2003 -- known as Black Sunday -- including retired CNN correspondent Larry LaMotte of Atlanta, Ga., and Ken Brindley of Conway, Ark., who were vacationing with their families. LaMotte had gone in the water to rescue his son who was caught in a rip current and got swept up himself. Brindley, seeing LaMotte in distress, went in to help but could not make it out.

LaMotte's wife Sandee told ABC News that the families had been completely unaware of the danger.

"Here we are, two families, two husbands, two fathers leaving behind two sets of children all because we didn't realize that were in danger playing here at the water's shore," said Sandee.

How to Escape a Rip Current

Lifeguards insist that the safest option for inexperienced ocean swimmers is to swim at a beach with lifeguards. For beachgoers who find themselves caught in a rip current, they offer these potentially life-saving tips:

  • Remain calm.
  • Don't try to swim against the current.
  • Try swimming parallel to the shoreline to get out of the current.
  • When out of the current, swim at an angle away from the current, towards the shore.
  • If you are unable to swim out of the current, float or calmly tread water.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Infants Learn to Avoid Drowning in Aggressive Program

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- For nearly 50 years, behavioral scientist Harvey Barnett has pushed infants into swimming pools with the hopes that they'd rescue themselves.  The program, never fully embraced by pediatricians, aggressively teaches infants as young as six months survival swimming techniques.

Barnett founded Infant Swimming Resource in 1966 after his neighbor's 9-month-old son drowned.  To date, the program has nearly 1,000 documented cases of children using survival swimming techniques to save themselves from drowning.

YouTube has shown numerous cases of babies intentionally falling into pools, only to tactically kick their head above water, roll on their backs, and float up to safety. In some videos, parents purposely push their child in the water and watch them rescue themselves.

Drownings are the leading cause of injury death for young children ages 1 to 4, and three children die every day as a result of drowning, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  An estimated 19 percent of drowning deaths involving children occur in public pools where lifeguards are present.

To be eligible for the class, infants must be able to sit up and roll over, since those are two techniques used, said Kim Moore, a certified Infant Swim Self Rescue instructor for nearly a decade. The children are taught to kick their head above water and roll on their backs to stay afloat, she said.

But the program, which has grown in popularity nationwide, has been slow to be accepted by major pediatrician organizations.

Before 2010, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommended against swimming lessons for children under age 4.

While the Academy has found some benefit to swimming lessons between ages 1 to 4 to prevent drowning, it has loosened but not eliminated its recommendation against infant and toddler swimming lessons.

"It must be stressed that even advanced swimming skills will not always prevent drowning and that swimming lessons must be considered only within the context of multilayered protection with effective pool barriers and constant, capable supervision," according to the 2010 AAP policy statement.

Evidence suggests that children ages 1 to 4 are less likely to drown if they have had formal swimming lessons, but the evidence has come from small studies and it's not clear exactly what type of techniques have been beneficial, said Dr. Mary Rvelyn O'Neil, a pediatrician at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in North Carolina.

O'Neil said she warns parents against intense survival-like swimming lessons before age one.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Taking a Dip? Think Again: One in Five Admit to Peeing in Pools

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- You may want to think twice before taking a dive into a backyard or community pool.  A new survey finds 20 percent of respondents admitting to peeing in a pool.

Dr. Chris Wiant, the chairman of the Water Quality & Health Council, says, “No matter how easy it is to pee anonymously in the pool, swimmers should avoid doing so.”

Dr. Wiant also advises parents to take their children on frequent bathroom breaks.

But urine isn’t the only contaminant affecting the water quality of a pool.  The WQHC survey finds that while virtually all Americans, 93 percent, say they would never re-use someone else’s bath water, 68 percent admit they do not shower before going in a pool.

“Swimming is not a substitute for bathing.  Too many people unknowingly treat the pool as a communal bathtub,” says Dr. Wiant. 

Health experts say a pre-swim shower removes sweat and cosmetics that can mix with chlorine to create irritants in the water that lead to problems for swimmers.

The Water Quality & Health Council survey involved 1,000 U.S. adults.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Did Deadly Parasite Kill Florida Teen?

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- A deadly brain parasite contracted during a swim in a local river is thought to be the culprit behind the sudden and tragic death of 16-year-old Florida teen Courtney Nash.

Nash had gone for a swim Aug. 3 with her cousins in St. Johns River and within a week began suffering from headache, stiffness, fever, and nausea -- all telltale signs of amoebic meningoencephalitis, a parasitic infection that attacks the brain and spine, Barry Inman, an epidemiologist with the Brevard County Health Department told ABC News.

The parasite enters through the nose and then travels through the sinuses and infects the brain and cerebrospinal fluid. Though this parasite is very rare, it tends to grow more in stagnant, fresh water during high summer temperatures, Inman said.

Nash was taken initially to a local hospital and then to Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children in Orlando, but despite every attempt at treatment, she died Saturday afternoon.

Though doctors at Arnold Palmer identified the amoeba Naegleria fowleri in her system before her death, Florida health officials are still awaiting official confirmation from the Centers for Disease Control that this was in fact the cause of death, Inman said.

Nash's is only the third case of amoebic meningoencephalitis in Brevard County since 1985, Inman said. Nationwide, there are usually one to three cases each year of this rare and dangerous parasitic infection. Only one person has survived the infection since the 1970s, he added.

Though chances of contracting this parasite are about one in 10 million, said Inman, people in the area are aware that there is some risk in swimming in certain fresh water ponds, lakes, and rivers.

Inman said that anyone suffering from the symptoms of this parasitic infection -- fever, nausea, stiff neck, and a frontal headache -- should seek medical attention.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Boy Who Survived Drowning Meets Rescuer, Condition Upgraded

Steve Mason/Photodisc(PORTLAND, Ore.) -- The condition of the 12-year-old boy who spent 25 minutes underwater in the Pacific Ocean and was presumed dead has been upgraded, and he has been moved out of intensive care.

"Dale's condition has been upgraded to "fair" by the hospital and is out of ICU," according to the blog,, set up in his honor. "He's not able to get out of bed yet, but he's been receiving physical therapy. He slept well last night!"

The good night's sleep, and promising medical news, for 12-year-old Charles "Dale" Ostrander came just one day after he was able to thank the young heroine who saved his life in a dramatic rescue Aug. 5 off the shores of Washington.

"Thank you," were the words Ostrander, of Spanaway, Wash., spoke to 12-year-old Nicole Kissel when she came to visit him yesterday in the Oregon hospital where the young boy continues to recover.

Kissel was swimming nearby with her father in the waters off the coast of Washington last Friday when she heard Ostrander, at the beach swimming with members of his church youth group, yelling for help.

"I heard some boy say help, help me," Kissel said. Ignoring the pleas of her father, she used her surfboard to swim into the churning waves and grab Ostrander.

"When someone is about to drown or someone needs help you don't really think about it before you're about to help them," she said of her actions.

"I let him on the board first, and I got on top of him, grabbed the board and he said, 'Keep kicking, keep kicking,'" Kissel said. "When we were on that board I kinda shouted out to myself, we're gonna die, I can't die like this."

Just then, Kissel recounted, another massive wave hit them both and, while Kissel managed to make it back to shore, Ostrander did not. The boy remained at sea, pulled underwater for more than 15 minutes.

Once rescuers from a volunteer surf rescue team finally spotted Ostrander and managed to pull the boy from the sea, he was not conscious and not breathing, and no one expected him to live.

On the shore, Ostrander's family and the other children from his church youth group dropped to their knees to sob and pray. Also waiting on the shore were medics who immediately started CPR on Ostrander and transported him to a nearby hospital where, finally, his pulse returned.

A medical helicopter then flew Ostrander to Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, where he was placed in a medically-induced coma.

The prognosis looked grim over the weekend, and the boy's parents feared the worst.

"They never expected him to live," the boy's father, Chad Ostrander, who was at the beach at the time of the incident along with his wife, Kirsten, said. "They expected him to be a vegetable -- never walk, never talk, never say a word."

Doctors in Portland tried one more time to reach Ostrander on Sunday night, easing him off sedatives and calling his name. This time, the young boy opened his eyes and blinked.

"That was when we knew, hey, maybe there is a miracle that's happening here," Chad said.

On Monday, those same doctors who feared Ostrander would not survive, were able to remove the breathing tube that had been keeping the boy alive.

Dr. Benjamin Abella, director of clinical research in the Center for Resuscitation Science at the University of Pennsylvania, said Ostrander's survival may be due to the fact that the waters in which he was submerged were sufficiently frigid. Abella said Ostrander's age and overall health may have also been factors in his survival.

Doctors continue to caution the Ostranders that their son faces a difficult road ahead of physical therapy, and could have permanent brain damage.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio