BARCELONA – On Sunday evening, a 29-year-old woman in Barcelona sought refreshment and dived into the sea. More than six hours later, she was rescued by a cargo ship. She was then taken to hospital, where she was discharged in good condition during the morning on Monday.
The woman showed no signs of hypothermia, had no respiratory problems, and no apparent psychological trauma, according to health care personnel. A miracle considering that she went into the sea off San Miquel beach and was rescued from the water more than 7 kilometres away by the ship Medi Sidney.
According to experts quoted in El País, it is “surprising” that she came out so well, considering the number of hours she spent floating and swimming in the sea in the middle of the night. Emergency services were alerted an hour after her disappearance by other beachgoers who were concerned she had not returned. Also concerned was her dog, who had waited for his owner with her belongings on the beach.
Authorities searched for her until 2.00 am to resume the search the following morning. Fortunately for the woman, the cargo ship found her in the sea near the entrance to the port of Barcelona. The sea is 40 metres deep there, at around 4.00 am. She swam toward the ship and screamed until someone heard her and threw a lifebuoy at her.
She said she had drifted off the coast by the current. Initially, according to El País, the woman did not want to go to the hospital because she felt fine. Finally, she agreed to go in and be examined. She was discharged before noon on Monday.
However, the woman’s ordeal puzzles experts. They are convinced that there are only two factors that determine whether someone can survive in the sea: the water temperature and the physical condition of the swimmer. At low temperatures, the swimmer can become hypothermic. A condition that can lead to cardiac arrest in the most serious cases.
According to Fernando Sánchez, head of the rescue federation in Andalucia and consulted by El País, this is an “extraordinary case”. “To swim for six hours in the sea off Barcelona and survive without any sign of hypothermia is astonishing. Then you need a very good condition. The only case that resembles this on our coast was that of a boy who went through an inflatable raft in an inflatable raft. the current had drifted and was found after three hours”. Unlike the woman, this boy was dehydrated and in bad shape.
Warm seawater or lie
Pere Domingo, a doctor at Sant Pau Hospital in Barcelona, says the woman is either lying or the seawater must have been very warm. The seawater was 28ºC when the woman disappeared. That is a higher temperature than normal. Therefore, that may have helped her as it allowed her to maintain her body temperature.
According to Frederic Tortosa, president of the Catalan Rescue Federation, it is possible to spend hours in the sea without becoming hypothermic. “There are people who swim across the Strait of Gibraltar without becoming hypothermic when the water temperature is much lower there.” You have to be used to low temperatures.
Despite the positive result, a hint of mystery lingers around the story.
Also read: High seawater temperatures