Shallow water blackout

14 May 2010, 14:16

The family of a Gloucestershire teenager who drowned 4 years ago are raising awareness of the rare condition that caused him to blackout.

15 year old Luke Jeffery had a big future ahead of him and was being tipped to swim at the 2012 Olympics.

But Luke tragically died after suffering from 'shallow water blackout' while swimming at the Moreton-in-Marsh fire college in April 2006.

Now his family are using what would have been his 20th birthday to make people more aware of the little known condition.

Luke's mum Melanie told Heart more about the campaign:

Listen to Melanie Jeffery

'Shallow water blackout' occurs when:

* The body has been working extremely hard - exercising lowers the oxygen level in the body;
* By taking deep breaths in preparation to swim under water, the body expels carbon dioxide from the lungs;
* The body’s desire to breathe is brought on by a build up of carbon dioxide in the lungs - we breathe carbon dioxide out to breathe oxygen in;
* The lungs have reduced levels of carbon dioxide, and this fools the brain into thinking that there is not yet the need to breathe;
* The brain is low on oxygen from the initial hard exercise and this brings on a faint.

If you were on land fainting would send oxygen racing to the brain and ‘bring round’ you round, but in a swimming pool the swimmer inhales water, and without immediate aid will subsequently drown.

The campaign has the backing of former Olympic swimmer Sharron Davies and they hope to eventually get warnings of the condition displayed at all swimming pools.