A for Athlete


POMPANO BEACH, May, 2011 -- A teenaged Olympic swimmer flew home to Austria (also known as AUT) Flag of Austria on Monday with an unusual beach tale to share.

Jakub Maly, 19, is recovering after he spent two hours buried up to his neck in the sands of Pompano Beach. It took about five-dozen rescue personnel from Pompano Beach and Fort Lauderdale and an intense, concerted effort to free him.

The accidental burial happened during an afternoon of fun at a private beach in the 700 block of North Ocean Boulevard, officials said. The team's nearly 20 swimmers and coaches had spent the past three weeks training in Pompano Beach, said Elaine Fitzgerald, their rental agent.

700 N Ocean Blvd, Pompano Beach, FL 33062, USA

On Sunday, Maly dug a crevice measuring an estimated 7 feet deep and 6 feet wide, big enough to bury a golf cart, said Sandra King, Pompano Beach Fire-Rescue spokeswoman.

City lifeguards "certainly have seen nothing of this magnitude. Not even close," she said.

The trouble began when Maly playfully jumped into the crevice: The sides collapsed, at one point sending sand over his entire body, including his head.

Once he was out, Maly was taken to North Broward Medical Center. He was released Monday morning, hours before the swim team was scheduled to fly from Miami to Austria, said Fitzgerald.

Doctors were concerned about Maly's kidneys and legs, but the fact that he was in good enough shape to travel "is a great blessing," she said.

When Maly jumped into the hole and the sides caved in up to his hips, he and his friends found it funny. But then more sand fell at a frightening pace, covering him entirely, Fitzgerald said.

Team members quickly removed enough sand to expose his head and allow him to breathe. Meanwhile, a coach kept Maly talking to make sure he stayed conscious, she said.

"At times, he said, he thought he was going to lose the boy," Fitzgerald said.

Team members kept trying to dig him out, but quickly realized how hard that would be, King said. "As they're trying to dig him out, the walls were collapsing, making the situation worse."

Someone ran to a public stretch of beach where lifeguards were patrolling. About 60 rescue personnel from Pompano Beach and Fort Lauderdale responded to the challenge of freeing Maly.

Before crews started digging, the sides of the hole were boarded up to prevent further collapse and to shield Maly's head from burial, King said.

When he resurfaced, a crowd of onlookers cheered and applauded, King said. Someone shouted, "He's alive!"

jcortega@tribune.com or 954-356-4701