Apollo Beach Racquet and Fitness Blog

September 13, 2019 - Water Safety Red Flags

Water safety and proper supervision of children around water.

The key to having a safe aquatic environment for children is preventing accidents.  knowing what to look for and anticipating an accident before it happens is the difference between a life lesson and rescue scenario.  With over 50 years of experience, Mary Beth Sultenfuss at Apollo Beach Racquet and Fitness has compiled a list of “Red Flags” or things to watch out for to identify weak swimmers who need extra supervision.

Red Flags, because every child thinks they can swim.

Floaties, life jackets and water wings

A common cause of drownings is a false sense of security. Kids think they can jump in the water without consequence and adults think they don’t have to supervise a child with a floatation device. When that child takes off the floatation device to get a snack and jumps back in the pool without putting it back on, they often go straight to the bottom and the only sign of trouble at the surface is the initial splash.  Identify this child by some physical appearance other than the floatation device and make sure you know where they are at all times while scanning the pool area.


Children who jump in the pool and immediately turn around and swim back to the wall or turn around in the air and grab the wall as soon as they hit the water.  This swimmer is brave enough to jump in but not confident in their skills. If they get too far from the wall, they will often panic. If they don’t jump far enough then the child can hit his or her face on the wall, teach them to jump forward and tun in the water or don’t jump at all.  Identify this child as a weak swimmer and keep tabs on him or her accordingly.


When you see a child wondering around the pool on the wall hand over hand, or inching down a lane rope, they are not confident swimmers and can end up in the deep end. If they come off the wall for some reason then they will panic and be in a tough spot.

Kickboards and pool noodles

If you see that a swimmer (who you have identified as weak or not confident) has a pool noodle or kickboard and is heading to the deep end or away from the wall, that floatation device can be bumped out of their hands and put them in an uncomfortable situation.


Clingers are children who hang on others. This creates a potential situation for both the clinger and the one who is supporting them.  Clingers can overwhelm and potentially push the supporting person underwater, or the supporting person, often a bigger child will wander away from the wall or shallow side of the pool with the clinger in tow. If the clinger falls off or panics, latching onto the supporter and finds themselves under water because it just got deeper then you have a dangerous situation.

Ball in the water

A toy is floating in the pool and a young child wants to play with it. They don’t have the reach to get it or the coordination to get that ball without falling in the pool. Do what you want with this information, it creates a teaching opportunity on how to lay on your stomach to reach something or lay on your stomach and use a pole or tool to extend their reach. You can also let that child fall in, with help in proximity, and grab the child’s hand and put it on the wall.  You may not always be there when your child falls in, but the wall will be. Teach them early to kick back to the wall for safety.

Breath holders

Children who don’t come up for a breath, often aren’t blowing their air out.  If they don’t blow out, then it is not possible to get a new breath.  Even if this swimmer pops his or her head up for a moment, they may not have gotten a breath.  Keep a close eye on these swimmers and encourage them to blow bubbles. Getting rid of that old air makes it easier and quicker to get a breath.


Running, jumping, flips, jumping onto floats and diving into shallow water is lots of fun but can easily result in a serious injury. As the supervisor it is your job to manage and assess risk. If you shut down the daredevils and redirect that energy to an organized game, the swimmers can still have fun while managing the risk of injury.  Daredevils will continue to push the envelope to keep things interesting until someone gets hurt, the longer you let it escalate the greater the chances of injury.

If someone isn’t in charge of watching the pool, then nobody is watching.


September 11, 2019 - Freediving Safety

When it comes to freediving safety there are two major rules to prevent 99% of fatalities.  Rule number one is to have proper supervision and rule number two is to be weighted properly.  Unlike most adrenaline pumping sports, freediving is low impact and can be enjoyed for may years.  Freediving accidents do not result in sprained ankles, knee injuries or a trip to the hospital to evaluate a concussion. If these two rules are not followed, accidents can often result in fatality.

90% of blackouts happen at the surface, usually after the diver has taken a breath.  It is the result of rapid pressure change from ascending.  It takes 30 seconds for that first breath to get processed by the body and deliver oxygen to the brain, so if the buddy is within arms reach and watches the diver for 30 seconds before diving then 90% of fatalities have been prevented.  9% of blackouts happen at 15 feet from the surface or shallower.  An attentive buddy with proper training at the surface who is breathing up and ready to help in a moments notice can keep those blackouts from becoming fatalities.  Remember to dive within the limits of the weakest diver and always protect the airway to keep your buddy from inhaling water when recovering from a blackout, that could result in pneumonia and or edema from water and bacteria entering the lungs.

Every dead freediver recovered from the bottom has a piece of equipment in common, a weight belt with too much weight on it.  Divers should weight themselves to be at collarbone level on a peak inhale, and the top of your head should be out of the water on a passive exhale.  When a person blacks out, the throat relaxes and air is released.  That loss of air in the lungs changes buoyancy, we want to be weighted to float in that worse case scenario so the buddy at the surface can provide assistance.  It only takes a couple extra pounds to send an unconscious diver to the bottom but an attentive buddy and proper buoyancy is all it takes to prevent 99% of freediving fatalities.


NAUI & PFI freediving instructor Bill VanDeman demonstrates proper buoyancy in the pool at Apollo Beach Racquet and Fitness durring a safety seminar.
NAUI & PFI freediving instructor Bill VanDeman demonstrates proper buoyancy in the pool at Apollo Beach Racquet and Fitness durring a safety seminar.
NAUI & PFI freediving instructor Tyler Sultenfuss demonstrates how to assist a blackout  in the pool at Apollo Beach Racquet and Fitness durring a safety seminar.
NAUI & PFI freediving instructor Tyler Sultenfuss demonstrates how to assist a blackout in the pool at Apollo Beach Racquet and Fitness durring a safety seminar.
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