Ashdod girl nearly drowns in breath-holding contest

12-year-old discharged in good health after 2 days at Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot.

swimming pool house 88 248 (photo credit: Eyal Izhar)
swimming pool house 88 248
(photo credit: Eyal Izhar)
A 12-year-old Ashdod girl who has been a trained swimmer since the age of five was successfully revived last week after apparently being bumped underwater while competing against other girls in holding her breath during a supervised lesson. She has now been discharged in good health after two days in intensive care at Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot. Esther Ori reportedly lay on the bottom of the pool for about 70 seconds before other girls noticed her and her trainer dove in to pull her out. But the trainer couldn't open her mouth, as it was locked shut due to a vacuum phenomenon. A Magen David Adom paramedic was called and managed to open her mouth by force and rushed her to the hospital. Dr. Alvin Tabachnik, head of pediatric intensive care, told The Jerusalem Post on Monday that the case could have been fatal, but he did not regard the incident as involving negligence. It is quite common for swimming class participants to hold their breath as much as they can to show they are the best, but rare for such an incident of near drowning to occur. Esther said later that she thinks she was bumped unintentionally in the back by another swimmer, but doctors did not find any sign of this. The girl consciously dived deeper, but then lost consciousness and dropped to the bottom, the hospital said. In the emergency room, the doctors found that water had entered her lungs and her oxygen level was low. As they treated her with oxygen and conducted constant tests, her condition improved and she was transferred to the pediatrics department. Tabachnik added that the phenomenon of near-drowning in children by trying to reach the limits in holding their breath is dangerous. However, "deaths are very rare when such a competition is held, as trainers watch them carefully," he said.