Dima Zaytsev, a 17-year-old competitive swimmer, was putting in extra training hours at the North Carolina swim training center SwimMAC last week when the unthinkable happened: Zaytsev nearly drowned. Swim coach Lindsay Treece spotted Zaytsev at the bottom of the pool and sprung into action.
"My hands were shaking from the adrenalin," Treece told NewsChannel 36. "I just kind of said, 'Okay, this is how I need to react. This is what needs to be done.'"
Treece, along with fellow coach Ryan Marklewitz, pulled Zaytsev out of the water, called 911, and worked to keep the swimmer alive until first responders arrived on the scene. While Zaytsev was hospitalized for several days, SwimMAC athletes wrote their teammate's initials on their arms and prayed for his health.
Fortunately, Zaytsev is now in good condition. He doesn't know what happened, but he believes he may have been using breath control, a technique that can lead swimmers to black out if not done carefully.
"It's possible I went too far, maybe I went too hard," he said.
Now in recovery, the swimmer says he has a new outlook on life. He told News Channel 36, "I've been calling all my friends and making sure that I appreciate every one of them. I feel like I got a second chance."
Fellow SwimMAC athlete Cullen Jones won a gold medal in Beijing and is now set to compete in London. As a young child, he nearly drowned at a water park as his mother, unable to swim, looked on helplessly. That experience inspired him to join forces with the Make a Splash Initiative, a national awareness campaign focused on teaching minority children how to swim.
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