By Jonathan Allen
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A lifeguard and another man, both in their 20s, possibly doing an underwater breathing drill, went into cardiac arrest and were found unconscious in a shallow public pool on Staten Island on Wednesday, authorities said.
They were pulled from Lyons Pool, which is just 3 feet 6 inches deep, and lifeguards immediately began CPR to try to resuscitate them, said a spokesman for the city parks and recreation department.
One man died before making it to the hospital and the other, who guards at a different city pool, remained in critical condition.
The men were both described as muscular and approximately 21 years old.
"They were apparently participating in some training drills that may have involved swimming underwater," Adrian Benape, the city parks commissioner, said during a visit to the pool after the accident, according to a transcript e-mailed to reporters.
"There is an unsubstantiated report that they were possibly training for a branch of the military service."
The incident occurred during the adults-only swim session on Wednesday morning. Lifeguards realized there was a problem after the men failed to respond to a whistle blown to mark the end of session, a parks department spokesman said. About 20 people had been in the pool at the time.
Lifeguards tried to revive the men while officers from the New York fire department headed to the scene.
The men's names were withheld while police contacted their families.
Both Benape and police said it appeared to be an accident.
"There's no criminality, by the looks of it," a police spokesman said.
There were two lifeguards and five other pool workers on duty at the time, Benape said.
Benape said the police were investigating the incident, while the city's health department will also conduct its own investigation in keeping with procedure following drownings at city pools.
Witnesses at the pool said the men had been seen frequently at the pool in recent weeks engaged in what looked like training drills, including breath-control exercises, a parks department spokesman said.
(Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Jerry Norton)