Local News

UNC swimmer showing steady improvement

Posted September 16, 2008

— A University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill swimmer who was hospitalized last week is showing steady improvement, a UNC doctor said Tuesday.

Sophomore Allison Barnes experienced an apparent severe hyperthermic episode at swim practice Sept. 9, university officials said. Her coaches called 911, and Barnes was taken to UNC Hospitals.

Dr. Thomas Brickner, of UNC's sports medicine department, said in a statement that Barnes has “shown steady improvement over the last 48 hours and has been upgraded to stable condition.”

Barnes has been transferred out of the intensive care unit, but will remain hospitalized for ongoing medical care.

“Allison is awake, responsive and ambulatory with assistance,” Brickner said.

Barnes is a member of UNC's women's swimming and diving teams and earned her first varsity letter competing in distance freestyle events during the past academic year.

Barnes' older sister, Amanda, graduated from UNC in 2008 and played on the lacrosse team.

Keith and JoEllen Barnes thanked "all of the athletic family here at UNC" – from the university chancellor and athletic director to the swimming and lacrosse head and assistant coaches – "for their continued support during this challenging time."

Barnes is from Bel Air, Md., and graduated from C. Milton Wright High School.

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  • mpheels Sep 17, 2008

    It newsworthy b/c its unusual. We don't hear about every person that has cancer or a heart attack b/c lots of people have cancer and heart attacks. We do hear about the very rare/extreme/interesting cases though, like someone having a heart attack in a public place. Every time a person drowns in a local pool it's news. Every time there is a severe car accident it's news. House fires are news. Anything that doesn't happen every day is news.

    Likewise, it's very unusual for a person to have this kind of health incident while swimming, especially a young and presumably healthy person. Add in the prominence of being a university athlete, and yes it's news worthy.

  • 8675309-9 Sep 17, 2008

    Hope she continues to get better. Maybe this is newsworthy because she swam for the same North Baltimore Aquatic Club program that produced Olympians Michael Phelps and Katie Hoff.

  • Adelinthe Sep 17, 2008

    Commentor5 - I was thinking the same thing. What makes this girl any different from the probably dozens of others who became ill on the same day???

    Still, praying for her.

    God bless.

    Rev. RB

  • TheAdmiral Sep 16, 2008

    "hyperthermic episode" definition: An episode where your body overheats, to a point in which it is dangerous.

    In other words, it is the inability of the body to cool itself. If she was in warm water, it would explain the situation.

  • bbad238 Sep 16, 2008

    Can someone please explain what a hyperthermic episode is and why that would happen? The story itself should have been more helpful

  • Commentor5 Sep 16, 2008

    OK - first let me say, I'm glad she's getting better - that's good news. But why is her case so special? Yes, I know that athletes make the new alot, particularly when someone dies on the field. However, there are other folks at UNC, Duke, WakeMed, and Rex hospitals that were gravely sick and are now recovering wonderfully. Why don't we hear about those individuals? Don't tell me its a privacy thing....if folks whose loved ones were sick in the hospital were to publicize their loved ones' health, I doubt seriously that WRAL would publish it or deliver it on the 5 o'clock news.

  • bmsmith Sep 16, 2008

    Please keep the updates coming. Prayers continue for her. Wonderful to hear there is an improvement