Coaches Keep an Eye Out for Effects of Poor Air Quality on Young Athletes

SACRAMENTO -- It was another day of hazy, polluted conditions around the capital region as the streak of Spare The Air days stretched to 14 on Wednesday.

With the air quality teetering on being unhealthy for everyone again, officials, coaches and medical staff made taking care of the young athletes a priority.

"We're keeping an eye on how they're feeling, how they're breathing," said coach Ryan Randall. "If they feel a little heaviness in their breath we have them sit in the locker room for a few minutes."

"So we're constantly watching for swimmers who are getting out of the water who are having trouble breathing, holding their chest, not even being able to get out of the water," said lifeguard Jessica Martin.

The swimmers who have a medical history of asthma are the biggest concern.

With more than 700 athletes, it is up to each individual team to keep an eye on their kids.

Coaches are speeding up their cool-down periods in order to get the swimmers back to the hotel, where air conditioning is the best medicine.

With the Western Zone Swimming Championships going on through Saturday, organizers are not ruling out a change to the schedule if the bad air continues.

"And if we need to change the format of the meet for some of the events that are longer to happen in the morning versus happening in the evening or the afternoon, then we are prepared to do that," said event director Denna Culpepper.

Kids and the elderly are the biggest medical concern when it comes to bad air quality. But after two weeks of poor air quality, just about everyone can be affected.

"If they notice their breathing is getting worse or harder to take deep breaths," said Dr. Adam Dougherty with Sutter Medical Group. "If they notice a worsening cough or anything like a fever or chills or vomiting, that kind of thing, then they should definitely seek medical attention."

It's not just your lungs that can give you problems with the smoke and bad air. Your eyes and your nose can also become extremely irritated. Don't hesitate if you think you may need medical attention.

Do check on the air quality in your area, visit the AirNow website.

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