Camden teacher who ‘died’ for five minutes in swimming pool is saved by lifeguards

Camden teacher and resident Ed Bray (centre, rear) with 'hero' lifeguards

Camden teacher and resident Ed Bray (centre, rear) with 'hero' lifeguards - Credit: Archant

A teacher who stopped breathing for five minutes while attempting an audacious underwater swim has praised the lifeguards who saved him.

Ed Bray, 35, says he “stared death in the face” before being brought back to life by staff at a swimming pool in nearby Hackney last Saturday.

The Camden teacher, who lives in Cliff Road, was pulled from the 25m pool at Clissold Leisure Centre, unconscious and blue, after attempting to swim two lengths underwater.

A regular swimmer, he said he was unaware of the difficulty of the feat until he suddenly shut down, “like a computer, when the power cord is pulled”.

Lifeguards performed mouth-to-mouth and chess compressions for about five minutes until Mr Bray began breathing again.

He said: “The first thing I knew about what happened was when I heard the sound of loud breathing. That was me – I had started breathing again but it was really laboured.

“The whole experience was very surreal – I had stared death in the face – and very frightening.”

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Mr Bray suffered hypoxia, brought about by a lack of oxygen supply to the body, and was taken to the Whittington Hospital in Archway where he was monitored overnight.

He added: “The lifeguards were absolutely brilliant, as were the paramedics and everyone at the Whittington, and I’m incredibly grateful to them all.

“I’m still a little sore and a little shaken but I’m here to tell the tale and that’s all because of the quick-thinking of the lifeguards. I want to say a huge thanks to them.”

Lifeguards Kirsty Gifford-Pitcher, Darryl Kelley, Filippo Fusi and Alex Rainsby, as well as leisure centre manager Vicki Smith, were all involved in bringing Mr Bray back to life.

Mr Fusi, a former beach lifeguard, said: “I was so relieved when he started breathing again and then talking. I said ‘We’ve brought him back’. I’ve been quite emotional since it happened but seeing him now makes me really happy.”

Ms Smith added: “Everyone’s training kicked in and we all worked together to ensure Ed was given the best treatment possible, saving his life. It’s only now things have sunk in. I’m so proud of all the staff that day and so happy to see Ed’s made a full recovery.”

Undeterred by his brush with death, Mr Bray is attempting to swim to the Isle of Wight from the mainland to raise money for the Whittington Hospital.

The feat involves a 1.2mile dash across the Solent.

If you would like to sponsor him, visit