There’s a video going around called the Pool of Death, showing young men playing in the water in a large rock pool in Hawaii. The water is pretty feisty and the thrill-seekers appear to be having a fun adrenaline-filled time. You can see the full video here on You Tube and read viewers’ opinions ranging from “Why are they risking their lives?” to “Where is it, I need to have a go?”
Henley Swim’s Tom Kean has taken a few moments to give his thoughts on the video, and what it shows us about water safety.
I’ve just watched the Pool of Death video for about the 10th time, partly because I wanted to make an informed comment on it now and partly because it intrigues me.
I’ve also finally managed to watch the clip with the sound on, and it confirms to me my initial suspicion that the three lads, far from being in mortal danger, are in fact having a whale of a time. It’s clear to me they know exactly what they are doing. I bet they are locals, although that is a complete guess. I wonder, bearing in mind the clip has had over 62 million views if they have ever been interviewed about their aquatic shenanigans? If not I’d be first in the queue to say hi and ask what they made of it.
What is abundantly clear to me though is that whilst their technique is not quite up to that of Mr Phelps, all three of them are fit and perfectly strong swimmers. The rising and falling maelstrom is no surprise to them; in fact they are clearly anticipating the waters going up and down and use this motion to “play” within this amazing pool. And when the sea suddenly and dramatically retreats, they stop swimming and go with the flow – pun intended.
At no point do I hear shouts of panic or requests of help – it all seems like fun to me, albeit possibly dramatic to some. I’d be quite happy to be corrected, but I reckon I’m right. I’m afraid I’ve not really had the chance to research the story very much, other than to read the confident yet usually ill-informed comments from those who have no way of knowing what’s really going on, a bit like me I guess.
What it does show is how to move with the water. How not to fight it; and importantly how it doesn’t drag you under into a swirling abyss. In all my years of swimming and observing all kinds of water related activities, people simply don’t get sucked under like that. What they tend to do is panic and sink, and normally very quietly. But to suggest there are unseen (dark) forces in the water trying to suck you under is an exaggeration which will only perpetuate unhelpful myths and spread ignorance.
So what can we learn from all this for our own water based fun? Well I guess we must accept that some of us have a lot to learn, and that there are lots of myths that are better dispelled. Understanding your environment is surely your number one job, and knowing your limits a close second. Never swim alone. Know how the cold can affect you. And how alcohol and bravado don’t mix well with water. In other words, worry less about the things that won’t actually hurt you, like mud, weeds and piranhas! I’d rather tell it as it is and help people understand what the dangers really are. And those lads weren’t in (much!) danger.
Tom is one of the two co-founders of Henley Swim, and has been involved in organising mass-participation swimming events for over 10 years.