North London teacher, 35, ‘dies’ for five minutes while attempting 50m underwater swim


A teacher who stopped breathing for five minutes after being pulled unconscious from an east London pool has spoken of his debt to the lifeguards who brought him back to life.

Ed Bray, 35, had been trying to complete two underwater lengths of the 25-metre pool at Clissold Leisure Centre, Hackney, without coming up for air – something he had seen on TV.

“The first time I saw someone hyperventilate was on TFI Friday,” he told the Standard. “They had a free diver on the show who used the technique to hold her breath under water for four minutes. I was impressed so I started using it myself.”

But Mr Bray, who admits not having researched the technique properly, began suffering hypoxia – a lack of oxygen in the blood – and passed out, hitting his head on the pool floor and biting his tongue.

“I was under the misapprehension it increases your oxygen level,” Mr Bray said of the technique, “when actually it lowers your carbon dioxide level.”

Read The London Evening Standard and Hackney

About Author

Production engineer and certified swim coach. Full-time IT consultant, spare-time swimming aficionado. 2 sons, 2 daughters and a wife. President of the Faroe Islands Swimming Association. Likes to run :-)

1 Comment

  1. Hyperventilation prior to underwater time must never be done alone. Every year dozens of kids worldwide die whilst trying to hold their breath underwater as long as possible. Ads have been run warning Aussie kids to never try to set breatholding records without a buddy watching them. What happens? Humans rely on the rising concentration of Carbon Dioxide(CO2) in the blood to stimulate breathing, not the falling concentration of Oxygen (O2). When you drive CO2 down by hyperventilating, the slow rise in CO2 that occurs underwater can take longer than it takes for O2 levels to reach the point where consciousness is lost, leaving you to drown without ever having felt the need to breathe. Very sad to die this way…….so unnecessary!! Be careful!!!

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