Health Issues Regarding Swimmers And Teachers.My daughter is on the cusp of teenage hood and not surprisingly a regular swimmer.  Now swimming and girls over a certain age, do not always mix and I am personally dreading having to decide what we are going to do about it.  My personal belief is that tampons are not suitable for a young teen due to the slight risk of toxic shock syndrome and if you can’t see it, you can forget it.  Also, does my daughter really want to be having this conversation with me, even though I will discuss anything with her?

EASTCOBBERMagazineLuckily, for us, India is no longer a competitive swimmer, so isn’t required by club rules to reach the magic eighty per cent attendance that is required.  The conflict lies with the young competitor and a head coach who is hungry for results and  commitment.


So what about female swimming teachers?  How fair should employers be if there is a medical problem that means tampons are just not effective?  Sometime a go, I was contacted by a swimming teacher via Facebook who wanted my advice.  The conversation went as follows:
“I get bad periods due to fibroids so for two days out of a month I'm extremely heavy and can’t go out.  The other day I started my period whilst in the pool and I was covering other teachers’ lessons, I finished the classes; but had to cancel the private lesson after.  The swim coordinator has taken me off the cover list and stopped my own classes, which were going to be permanent every Tuesday as a result.  I have covered at a few hours notice for them for six weeks doing two - five hours at one time, as one teacher was caught drunk driving and lost his license and the other two female teachers I covered for have had and are having operations.”

To which I replied: “I think that is really unfair.  I think you need to arrange a meeting with the swimming coordinator and their boss and go with medical proof to back your case up.”

My friend had been honest  and told her manager before the incident that it would be for only two days and that day surgery had been arranged for a fortnight’s time to fix the problem.  As a lady herself, the manager should have been more understanding and there are always around such a problem.  For example, how deep is the pool?  If the children can stand up in the pool and are confident, 

it isn’t always necessary to have the teacher in the pool with them.  Even if the pool is deep, the children can be put onto woggles and work around the edge of the pool, so they are within easy reach.  Unfortunately, my friend had only signed a contract regarding cover and casual employment and not for permanent work and so didn’t have a legal leg to stand on.


Columbus School for GirlsI, myself, had my swimming career threatened by severe ongoing ear infections, shortly after I had qualified with STA level one and I was told by the ENT consultant that I might have to give up.  The lady who I was helping at the time, just said that I didn’t necessarily have to go into the water and there were ways round it – I was lucky to have someone so understanding.

So the question is, is it really fair for swimming clubs and schools to put health pressures on female swimmers and teachers, when it should be down to individual choice?

Beach Safety And Drowning Prevention

Matt WadeKids don’t have a care in the world when running down the sand dunes towards the cooling sea on a blistering hot day, but it is vitally important that all members of the family are aware of the hidden dangers of a day at the beach.  Unfortunately, drowning is the third highest form of unintentional death in the UK, with young people contributing a large proportion to this figure.  So what can be done to try and bring this figure down whilst on holiday?

Start by doing some research on your chosen beach before you go at www.goodbeachguide.co.uk or for Ireland, Lifeguarded Waterways and other bathing areas.  A blue flag (www.blueflag.org/menu/criteria/ beaches) awarded beach is certainly the ideal as the water quality and safety provision will be of the highest standard.  But even if you are not near a blue flag beach, take the the time to read and reinforce any information safety signage regarding that particular beach and apply the following rules to keep you safe.

Always obey the water safety flags and never swim alone:

Beach Water Safety

The area between two red and yellow flags means it is safe to swim and belly board.

Beach Water Safety

The area between two white and black flags means no swimming as the area is strictly for surfing and windsurfing.

Beach Water Safety

Do not enter the water.

Keep an eye out for rip currents – these should be avoided at all costs, even for the strongest of swimmers.  Clues to help identify rip currents are:

  • Choppy, churning water in a channel.

  • There is a noticeable change of colour (usually due to the bed being churned up) to an area of water.

  • The incoming water pattern has a break.

  • Debris, a line of foam or seaweed is travelling steadily out towards sea.

  • Look out for information points along the beach as rip currents don’t always show any of these characteristics and can quite hard to determine by the everyday beach visitor.

Beach Water Safety
A Rip Current

If you do get caught in a rip current, the most important and admittedly the most difficult thing to do is KEEP CALM and follow these six steps:

    1. If the water is shallow enough, keep your feet firmly on the ground.  The rip current might be quite weak, if this is the case, walk parallel with the shore until you are out of the current and then once you are out; walk diagonally for the beach.
    2. Deep water rip currents will only pull you out further seaward and it is highly unusual for them to pull you under.  So keep telling yourself to stay calm and swim parallel with the shore until you break the current.  If you get tired, flip onto your back, float and shout for help.
    3. Try on a frequent basis to touch the seabed with your feet (make sure you can get a firm hold), if you can stand up, follow the instructions for step one.  Otherwise, do not struggle against the rip (as this will increase your chances of drowning) and concentrate on swimming parallel with the shore and floating, you will eventually break free.
    4. Weak or non-swimmers MUST immediately call for help and attract attention by waving their arms.  To stay afloat, try remaining in a sitting position, keeping your head out of the water and pretend you are pedaling on a bicycle (whilst waving your arms), this is called treading water and is specifically used in water safety.  Floating on your back (you can still shout for help on your back, as your mouth and nose should be free of water) can help when you get tired of treading water.  Make sure your ears are in the water, eyes are looking at the sky, chin and hips are pushed up and relax.  A relaxed body is better at floating compared to a stressed out one.
    5. Rips are narrow and it is unusual for one to be over 30 metres (100 feet) wide and they generally subside about 15 metres (50 feet) to 30 metres away from the shore.  So as long as you keep calm, you will eventually reach the edge of the current.
    6. When you have escaped the rip, walk or swim diagonally towards the beach.  This is safer than moving straight towards the beach, as you could re-enter the rip.  If you have to swim and you get tired, flip and float on your back at regular intervals to rest.

The sea is tidal (which are dependent on the moon’s cycles, the sun and the Earth) and the weather (especially the wind) creates the waves and how big they are; which makes it all very unpredictable.  Keep an eye on the tides and if you are unsure, ask a lifeguard.  The last thing that you want to happen is for you or your family to be cut off because of the rising tide or you are suddenly in water, when a few minutes ago, you were on dry land.  Please do not dodge the waves, as you cannot predict what the wave will do and potentially, large waves could drag you out to sea.  Dumping waves usually occur at low tide and are to be avoided as they break with great force in shallow water.  The safest waves to swim in are spilling waves and these have an appearance of a soft wave with the crest breaking gradually as the wave approaches the shore.

Beach Water Safety
If you see an orange windsock flying, you should never swim with an inflatable and even then, always be careful using an inflatable whilst swimming.

Inflatables, body boards and surfboards can cause their own problems whilst in the sea.  What you must not do is abandon your equipment when you are in trouble, as they can be used to help keep you afloat and rested whilst you call for help.  Ideally, inflatables should only be used in swimming pools, as they can so easily be swept out to sea, even in calm conditions.  Children’s inflatables should always be attached to a line that leads back to a supervising adult on the shore.

Jeffrey Samorano
Tombstoning (jumping or diving from a great height into water) is extremely dangerous and can lead to severe injury (spinal or head) and in the worse case scenarios, death.  Why could this happen?  Water can be deceptive and be shallower than it appears, which will increase the chances of hitting submerged rocks that are not so easy to see.  Tides can make water depth variable and strong currents can sweep divers out to sea.  Diving into cold water could be a shock to the system and make it difficult to swim and breathe.

Remember, if you do get into trouble:

Shout and wave for help.

Try treading water or floating on the back to conserve energy (see information on rip currents).

Do not attempt to rescue someone else in trouble, you will be putting yourself at risk.  Instead, tell them you are going for help and either tell a lifeguard or if there isn’t a lifeguard available, call 999 or 122 and ask for the coastguard.