The start of the morning was sad and shocking when the news got wired that Alex ‘Chumpy’ Pullin drowned in the sea, Palm Beach, Gold Coast, Australia. An Olympian, a world champion in snowboarding had such a sorry ending, which shall be taken as a lesson by everyone that even world champions can drown if you violate the safety norms!

Now and then my and all those who are in water safety their heart pains on such news! Everywhere, the lifeguards are requesting all to please follow safety norms, so that no one dies and we can not only save lives but also see these lives cherishing with their family and friends, blossoming this environment. The loss of this elite athlete is not only confined to that family in concern and knowns but this loss also extends to the game which he represents, the national and world federation, all athletes of that game but entire sports fraternity worldwide!

Why the world champion drowned?! As per police officials, the Olympian went for free diving, snorkelling but he was not wearing the oxygen mask! Hereby, it makes again the classical example of violating the safety SOP (Standard Operation Procedures). Thus, please do remember never to violate any safety norms, so that this world loses a precious life! I remember the Trivandrum National Swimming Championship around 1974 or 1975 were, India’s fastest and first swimmer who clocked less a minute’s time in a 100 meters Free Style dash, came across an accident on the beach. The swimmer again violated the safety norms and was bashed badly by the sea waves that caused swimmer with his backbone and neck bone injury, that resulted in him to quit swimming. Again, to quote this injury of his left Indian swimming fraternity a shock, as all had high hopes from him to bring laurels for the country in future elite swimming championship(s).

Why does this happen? The simple answer to this question is please follow safety norms immaterial how lucrative the situation is to jump in the water! Safety norms adherence will ensure one’s life safety else tragic accident can take place that could be fatal! Why elite and/or good swimmers become pray of such accidents? Such shortfalls are:

Overconfidence of being a good swimmer tends to overlook the following:

a. Depth of water body
b. Type of water body
c. The current of flowing water
d. Water temperature
e. Dimensions of the water body
f. Is there any buddy swimmer along!
g. The environment around the water body
h. Local bodies warning’s if any!
i. Do water beings present if any?
j. Am I carrying all safety equipment’s needed?

Abovementioned concerns may seem foolish at times but are very important to be considered! For instance, let me share an example with you of my own! I went to Perth, Australia in January 2003, to pursue my Bronze Medallion course in Lifeguard and also at the same time to participate in a sea race (the only one of my life, though I secured 36th position in it). One day I was patrolling on the beach as an internship protocol and after the duly completion of the duty, I was told to enjoy the seawater! Being a national level swimmer, I was confident to thrive but with one great mistake and that was not giving heed to the local warnings! When a wave approaches, one must sit down rather obstruct the wave to have fun, mistake what I did! Because the strength of the wave cannot be ascertained by merely looking at it! So, a strong wave came all shouted at me to sit down 3rd time but I again refused to follow and the result was in a fraction of a second I realised that wave is strong enough to break my neck bone and backbone, so I must lift my legs up and release my body to survive but still go hell lot of scratches on the body from the sand granules! Thereafter never dared to behave like that irresponsibly.

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Well a general guideline for all to adhere, the safety norm’s are:

1. Never swim alone even in known water
2. Never swim in unknown water(s) body unless expert from that area is there to help
3. Ensure depth, temperature, current and surrounding of the water body, enter only if it is safe
4. Never jump directly in the water body without thorough knowledge!
5. Have all required safety gears with you before entering a water body
6. In cold water beware of cramps, have a sip of isotonic drink regularly
7. In hard water never swim fast
8. Swim only the distance from where you can return to the safety area
9. To show off strength never swim when too tired
10. Never swim after consumption of any sedative or drugs like tobacco, alcohol etc
11. Follow safety guidelines of the water body displayed or told
12. To rescue someone, use only, aid to help if not a certified lifeguard
13. If certified lifeguard does not rescue, if you are tired, as you too will ow drown
14. Swim in presence of a lifeguard, in case, not a good swimmer
15. In the case of cramp(s) do back floating, shout for help and try to return to the safety area
16. If asthma patient only do backstroke or floating

Happy Swimming

The writer is Licence B holder, DSV Germany Swimming Federation.

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