A 21-year-old man who was participating in a lap swim program at a public pool on Staten Island drowned Wednesday morning, and a second man in the same pool, an off-duty city lifeguard in his early 20s, was in critical condition after nearly drowning, officials said, according to the New York Times.
The two were discovered facedown at 8:25 a.m. in the Lyons Pool in Tompkinsville, and lifeguards on duty immediately tried to resuscitate them, said Adrian Benepe, commissioner of the Parks and Recreation Department, which operates the pool. Emergency medical technicians took the men to Richmond University Medical Center, where the first man was pronounced dead at 9:45.
According to witnesses, the two men had been doing underwater exercises in which they held their breath, possibly in advance of joining the military, a parks spokesman said. Officials did not release the name of the lifeguard, but the police identified the man who died as Bohdan Vitenko.
“They were apparently participating in some training drills that may have involved swimming underwater,” Mr. Benepe said at a news conference. “There is an unsubstantiated report that they were possibly training for a branch of the military service.”
It was the first drowning in one of the 54 outdoor city pools in at least nine years, a parks spokesman said.
According to the commissioner, about 20 people were in the pool at the time of the accident. Five aquatics staff members and two lifeguards were on the pool’s deck. The parks department said members of the pool’s staff were receiving grief counseling.
There has been growing concern about so-called shallow-water blackout. Children have long held contests to see who can hold their breath the longest, and advanced swimmers and others practice breath control to improve performance. But Web sites and testimonials cautioning against the practice have proliferated on the Internet.
Swimmers can lose consciousness after suffering a lack of oxygen to the brain and then drown. The Y.M.C.A. and other organizations tell swimmers to be aware of the dangers in their training materials.
Mr. Benepe said that since the accident involved a drowning, the city’s Health Department would be investigating it. The Lyons Pool reopened Wednesday afternoon for its regular session.