Mailbag: Don’t Forget NBAC, Louis Lowenthal, and the Dangers of Hypoxic Training

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March 13, 2013

From a reader:


I hope you and Tim Joyce return to the investigation of Louis Lowenthal’s death from shallow water blackout, stemming from a likely attempt at hypoxic training on his own.

As dangerous as hypoxic training is for age group swimmers, whether or not they are supervised, the practice is widespread in the Maryland/DC/Virginia region. See the following article from the Post‘s Reach for the Wall:

I also want to thank you for coverage of the swim coach sex abuse scandals rife within the ranks of USA Swimming club coaches — and now, with the revelations about Greg Winslow, within the ranks of NCAA swim coaches. I have a teenage daugther who swims competitively and I have been having conversations with her about how to recognize the signs “grooming” that can lead to abuse.

We have also had dialogs about emotional abuse by coaches that led to her revealing to me that, as a diagnosed asthmatic, she was coerced into doing hypoxic drills by an age group coach who wasn’t her usual coach but would coach my daughter’s group from time to time at her former USA Swimming club team. When my daughter complained of dizziness and breathlessness and needed to get out of the water to use her rescue inahler, the coach chatised my daughter. The coach told my daughter that my daughter didn’t have “real asthma” because the coach had a childhood friend who had suffered asthma attacks that appeared very different than what my daughter was experiencing. The coach told my daughter that her breathlessness was due to her being “overly dramatic” and that my daughter was causing herself to panic and hyperventilate. At the time this happened, my daughter was under the care of a pediatric pulmonologist for allergies and exercise-induced asthma.

There have been a number of recent articles about that debunk the myth that hypoxic training be of any real value to swimmers, triathletes and water polo players. The more light that is shed on the dangers of hypoxic training, the likelier that age group coaches will not only abandon the practice, but that coaches will also actively discourage swimmers from engaging in the drills on their own will grow. The risk that another swimmer could suffer the same fate as Louis Lowenthal needs to be eliminated.

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Concussion Inc. - Author Irvin Muchnick