Swimming is inherantly more risky than many other sports such as running around a track or hitting a golf ball. After all; if you work too hard and pass out, you won’t just fall down on the ground. You could very well drown. That is why most if not all public pools require there to be lifeguards present when you are on their premises. The problem, though, is that some pools have a lot of glare, and if there are a number of people in the pool then it can be hard to see under the water, and if the water is particularly deep that makes it even tougher.

So do these safety concerns mean that you should not swim? No, it does not. Especially if you live in Bangor, North Wales. They have computer and camera assisted lifeguards on duty, which saved the life of a 10 year old girl after she immediately passed out after getting in the pool.

One of the safety system’s four underwater cameras showed her sinking without any sign of a struggle into the 12ft 6in deep end. Once she had lain motionless on the pool floor for three seconds, the computer sounded an alarm which also pinpointed which part of the pool the girl was in to the five lifeguards on duty.

That is just really neat; camera’s keep track of potential problems, tell the lifeguards about it, and within a minute the victim is pulled out of the pool. One minute is much better than the 3 or 4 minutes it could otherwise have taken. The ?65,000 system, Poseidon, is a bit pricey, but if I had a choice between swimming in a pool equipped with it and one that was not, I would not have much of a choice on where I would want to go.

On the other hand, the system has been in place for 2 years and this is the first time it has worked. Which is not to say it has failed (the BBC article does not say), but is the investment worth the life or two it might save over a 5 year span? That would depend on the community and the resources that it has available. I do not know of anywhere in the States that use it, and in fact had never heard of it before now.