Christmas Day started out in typical fashion for Andrew Scott, but in no way did he think he would end up in the hospital.
Andrew opened gifts and was watching a movie with his family at about 4 p.m. At that time, Andrew started to come down with some flu-like symptoms, but still watched the movie with his family.
Two hours later, a dehydrated Andrew was passed out on the bathroom floor going in and out of consciousness.
Andrew’s parents, Kevin and Kathy Scott of Windsor, couldn’t believe their perfectly healthy son was fighting to breathe and had turned blue.
While Kathy called 911, Kevin and Andrew’s older sister, Allison, went into their swim-training mode.
Kevin is the boys swimming coach at Windsor High School. Allison was a standout swimmer at Windsor and competed at the University of Northern Colorado. Andrew, 17, a senior at Windsor, is a record-breaking swimmer for the Wizards who works out twice a day for the Loveland Swim Club.
“When he went down, he was unresponsive and in and out of consciousness,” Kevin said. “As a parent, it was probably the scariest thing that I’ve ever been a part of. I felt helpless.”
HIT THE WALL!
In order for Andrew to keep breathing, Kevin and Allison would yell out different swimming sets.
“Kevin would say, ‘Andrew, it’s a 200 set. You need to breathe!’ I can remember Allison got down in his face and said, ‘Andrew, it’s a 400 IM. Hit the wall and breathe!’ He would breathe,” Kathy said. “I said to Kevin later on that who but those three would have thought that because that’s their lives. They breathe in and out of sets all the time.”
Kevin’s a physical education teacher at Windsor High School and has undergone Red Cross training, as has Allison.
“I think that their calmness is what saved him. Kevin’s ability to use his Red Cross training and his coaching voice is what saved him,” Kathy said.
Andrew said his memory of passing out is fuzzy.
“I don’t remember a whole lot about it, but I do remember bits of it from here and there. I could hear them at that point,” Andrew said. “I remember them telling me to breathe. It was so reassuring to me. I needed to keep my heart rate at what I want. I needed to control what I want, and not what other things in the world are trying to make me do. In a sense, I think swimming saved my life just in the sheer fact that when I’m in a practice I have to control my breathing, my heart rate, and that when I do control them I can use them outside the pool.”
Kevin said while Andrew was being transported to North Colorado Medical Center in Greeley, the paramedics hooked him up to an EKG machine and they discovered that he had an irregular heartbeat.
“We got to NCMC, we spent Christmas night there,” Kevin said. “The next day the cardiologist came in, and he looked at Andrew’s heart and diagnosed him with a thing called Wolff-Parkinson-White (syndrome). It’s basically something that he’s had all of his life that we haven’t been aware of. It’s like an extra circuit in the heart, and when it’s triggered, his heart wouldn’t pump any blood.”
TWO-HOUR HEART SURGERY
Andrew ended up having heart surgery for a little more than two hours Jan. 4 where the cardiologist short-circuited the extra circuit. Andrew didn’t have to be cut open. The cardiologist, Dr. Shane Rowan, went in through Andrew’s groin area (femoral artery) on both sides in an arthroscopic-type procedure and used a camera device during the surgery to search for the extra circuit.
“They had his heart going about 300 beats a minute to get into that circuit, and once it goes into that circuit they search for it, they find it and then they cauterize it and that’s supposed to take care of everything,” Scott said.
After the surgery, Andrew was cleared to start swimming in a week.
Kevin said Rowan told Andrew he would be as good or better after the procedure. Once it’s caught and fixed, Andrew won’t have to worry about it again, so swimming six days after surgery wasn’t risky.
“Dr. Rowan assured us that it’s not going to come back,” Kathy said.
Andrew said he’s taking it slow, but he feels great in the water. Andrew even swam the week in between his surgery because the cardiologist wanted him to maintain his regular schedule.
“Some days I’m nervous to get in the water, but other days it’s nice to be in it. It feels good, it’s like home,” Andrew said. “It’s nice knowing that this won’t ever happen to me again. I don’t think it ever went through my head that I’m not going to swim again. It’s kind of scary that I’ve gone through so many years of swimming and cycling and nothing’s ever shown up.”
CONDITION IS RARE
The condition Andrew was diagnosed with is rare.
“Basically in the United States, I think (the cardiologist) said 5 percent of the population has this condition, but it’s really not disclosed until they have the EKG and electrocardiogram,” Kevin said.
Andrew is coming off a stellar high school swimming season where he placed ninth at the Class 4A Colorado Boys Swimming and Diving Championships last May in Thornton with a school record in the 200-yard individual medley (2 minutes, 00.48 seconds), and placed ninth with another school record in the 100 backstroke (55.40). Andrew holds six school records, two in the relays (200 medley, 400 freestyle) and four individual events (100 IM, 100 backstroke, 100 breaststroke and 100 backstroke WHS pool record).
The incident scared a lot of people considering the amazing shape that Andrew’s in. He started summer training for Loveland Swim Club right after the prep season, swimming twice a day except Sundays. He trained 20 to 22 hours a week during the summer being in Greeley from 6-8 a.m. for long-course practice, and from 3-5:30 p.m. in Loveland.
During the fall and winter months, Andrew swims in Loveland from 5:30-6:30 a.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and from 4:30-7 p.m. Monday through Friday after school. He also swims from 7-9 a.m. every Saturday in Loveland.
“I had never felt anything with my heart before,” said Andrew, whose looking to swim in college at Colorado Mesa University, St. Cloud State University (Minn.) or the University of Utah. “They said the surgery has a 95 percent success rating.”
THANKFUL TO EVERYONE
Kevin said he wanted to thank everybody for keeping Andrew in their prayers and thinking about the family.
“The medical staff at NCMC is awesome. They have been nothing but spectacular. From the first responders all the way to the cardiologist, the care was incredibly good,” Kevin said. “Our friends and people we know have been awesome, and our family certainly appreciates all their thoughts and prayers.”
The condition Andrew had could have resulted in sudden death if he hadn’t had his family around.
“I wouldn’t wish it on anyone,” Kathy said. “I’m really thankful that he’s healthy, and he’s strong and he’s here, and that he gets to do what he still loves to do which is he loves to swim. It’s his life.”
Kevin said it doesn’t matter if Andrew swims another lap.
“It really makes you appreciate what you have,” Kevin said. “Whether or not he swims, that’s pretty inconsequential right now. He has his health. He’s going to have a productive life. Just to see a healthy 18-year-old graduating and going off to college when you don’t know what it could have been before that. Thank goodness it happened at home.”
Andrew said the whole experience brought a lot of awareness to things in his life.
“I’m so blessed to have such a great family. I have great parents,” Andrew said. “My whole extended family has contacted me, and my friends have been phenomenal. They’ve done everything they can to help me out.”
My whole extended family has contacted me, and my friends have been phenomenal. They’ve done everything they can to help me out.
Swimmer at Windsor High School