College student dies after shallow water blackout

Experts are raising awareness about “shallow water blackout," which causes swimmers to faint underwater with deadly results.
2:43 | 04/17/21

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Transcript for College student dies after shallow water blackout
warning as spring turns into summer, and we all head into the water for relief, there is a phenomenon known as shallow water blackout that causes swimmers to faint under water and can have deadly consequences. ABC's Alex Presha has much more. He was the best. He was so much fun and just we really miss him. Reporter: For Angie and mark Pedrotti, the pain is still raw. Their first born, 21-year-old Joe, was just a semester away from graduating college. He was just getting ready to start the next phase of his life being on his own. Reporter: The end of March he was in Panama City, Florida, for spring break with his friends, hanging out at the pool Joe bet he could hold his breath long enough to swim around the pool's island in one breath. He was a good swimmer, also a big guy, 6'6", and the pool was just four feet. He took off and after around a minute his friends spotted him face down and unconscious. That's when he -- his friends saw him and they got him out and gave him cpr and called an ambulance. Reporter: Joe's obituary saying he died of shallow water blackout when a person holds their breath for an extended period. What happens is, they use up so much oxygen that they don't have sufficient oxygen in their bloodstream to keep them conscious and they black out under water. They literally faint under water. Reporter: As summer approaches and swimming season gets under way experts warn that shallow water blackout is different than drowning which occurs because of a lack of swimming skills. The major difference here is the people who succumb to shallow water blackout are not novice swimmers. Superior swimming skill and breath holding ability. And that drive to push themselves beyond their limits. Reporter: In fact it's something Michael Phelps is warning people about in recent Please follow these guidelines and, remember, if shallow water blackout occurs it's often fatal. Reporter: Experts say you should never swim alone or ignore the urge to breathe. Swim around a certified lifeguard and also don't attempt to long or repetitive underwater swims. Everything you warn your kids about and tell your kids about, this needs to be one of them. Reporter: Lastly, and this is critical, experts say you should never compete in those underwater competitions to see who can hold their breath the longest and you should never hyperventilate before an underwater swim. Eva. Alex Presha for us, good reminders as we head into that season where people are going to be in pools again.

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