Chlorine leak at Thousand Oaks swim school harms swimmers

Daland Swim School in Thousand Oaks experienced a chlorine gas leak on Oct. 3, affecting 19 swimmers in total. During regularly scheduled activities, an equipment malfunction caused an excess of chlorine gas, typically used to kill bacteria, to enter the water.

Katie Wu, sophomore, and Maria Hutterer, sophomore, were at the facility on the day of the leak for swim practice. At around 6:30 p.m., the swimmers noticed bubbling near the pumps, and soon after, the team experienced an unpleasant reaction. “It was very hard to breathe. Some of us couldn’t breathe at all, and we were all coughing… everyone was panicking,” Wu said.

Besides coughing, some members of the team experienced more violent symptoms. “A few people did vomit and one person did faint. Some of the people with asthma had a bit more of a severe reaction,” Hutterer said. The only people affected by the equipment malfunction were swimmers.

Several ambulances responded to the scene, transporting at least 12 of the swimmers, including Wu, to hospitals in Thousand Oaks and Simi Valley. At 11:30 that night, Leslie Daland-James, the owner of the swim school, informed the community through Nextdoor that the chlorine leak was caused by a large surge from an automated pump. “It was scary for all involved, but thankfully no one was seriously hurt,” Daland-James said.

Despite the chaos that the chlorine leak caused, the Daland staff was commended by both affected swimmers and emergency personnel. “The response to calling 911 was very quick, and (the staff was) able make sure that we all got what we needed as quickly as possible,” Hutterer said.

Since the incident, Wu and Hutterer have been back at the facility. “We were there the next day for a therapy session and then on (Oct. 5) for a team picture and party,” Wu said. The swim school has since reopened and is back to regularly scheduled classes.