The Wamego city government has reached a settlement with the family of a swimmer who drowned last year at the Wamego Aquatics Center indoor pool.

In a joint news release Tuesday, the family and the Wamego city government announced that John and Seana Balman of Manhattan received $350,000 for the wrongful death of their son, Thomas “Wyatt” Balman, 20 in a pre-litigation settlement.

On Oct. 13, 2020, Balman, a 2018 Manhattan High graduate, fainted while swimming laps and drowned.

Unknown to Balman, he had a pre-existing medical condition that can cause one to faint, according to Riemann Injury Litigation, the Balman family’s lawyers.

The law firm argued on behalf of the family that the lifeguards failed to perform their duties adequately.

The law firm said Balman was under water for about six minutes before his sister, rather than the lifeguards, noticed and raised him above the water.

Balman, who was the captain of the Manhattan High swim team, swam collegiately at Soka University in southern California.

The settlement also included the Wamego Aquatic Center updating its safety policies and regulations:

  1. Wamego Aquatic Center will have multiple Red Cross certified lifeguard instructors on staff or contracted to provide monthly training to all lifeguards.
  2. Monthly lifeguard training will be mandatory for all lifeguards.
  3. Training records will be turned in and maintained by the safety officer.
  4. Monthly safety training will be required by all staff members at the WAC.
  5. All WAC staff members must follow the emergency action plan.
  6. A lifeguard must be on the stand if there is anyone in the water.
  7. Phones are prohibited to be used while on the lifeguard stand.
  8. Lifeguards are to keep their eyes scanning the water at all times.
  9. Lifeguards should respond to any incident that they feel is abnormal or prohibited.