The International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF) will host a fascinating and visionary event: The “Conference on Near-Death Experiences while Drowning”. Since its inception in 1965, ISHOF has been the "Mecca of Aquatics" bringing together many fascinating people and acting as the facilitator for knowledge exchange. This conference aims to bring attention to a very important issue largely neglected by most aquatic safety professionals; near death experiences during a drowning episode.  

“I could see, floating in the air, the lifeguards attempting to resuscitate a lifeless body; it was mine.” “I saw a bright light that asked me, in a life review, what I have done in my life for love and learning.” “I felt peace and no fear of death.” Holden and Avramidis reported in their "Near-Death Experiences while Drowning" book, that these are words of those who “died” temporarily and reported how they felt when they returned from the “other side.” These experiences are not illogical or pathological. Millions of survivors cannot be labeled as delusional. The phenomenon that occurred is termed a Near-Death Experience (NDE). Contemporary advances in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and defibrillation have enabled lifeguards and first responders to bring large numbers of victims back to life, heretofore unprecedented in human history. Of the millions of those who survive drowning each year, about 20% of survivors report NDEs.

Often when victims report their Near -Death Experiences (NDEs) to health care providers and first responders, due to inexperience with this phenomenon, these reports are often labeled as hallucinations. When a Near Death Experience is discounted, it becomes psychologically disconcerting to survivors. Similarly, the survivors or their families may believe that they are have lost touch with reality. The conference seeks to:

1. Discuss NDE characteristics that a successfully resuscitated drowning casualty might report.
2. Show a sample of drowning NDE accounts.
3. Provide recommendations for how water safety professionals or doctors can use NDE related information in their work.
4. We will also include a poster session which will be open to any water safety- and aquatic related information, attendees will have the opportunity to view additional contributions relevant to drowning in terms of prevention, rescue and treatment.

This conference will provide a day of insight into this unique phenomenon, along with providing useful professional information for first responders and medical personnel. 

Aquatic Greetings,

Bruce Wigo¸ J.D.                    Stathis Avramidis, DipEd, BEd, MSc, MPH, PhD
Co-Chairman                            Co-Chairman