Drowned Twice, Went Swimming – By @MunrajSC
By Munraj Chawla
Drowned Twice, Went Swimming
At the time of writing this, 2019 is almost coming to an end. Marc has challenged us to end the year without regrets, meaning doing something before the year ends that we had planned to, but haven’t yet done.
For me, it was to go swimming.
Now, I know not swimming isn’t the most exciting regret to have but, if you’ve somehow not read the title of this SCAB, I‘ve almost drowned twice in the past. So, my small goal felt like a mountain of a task.
The first time I almost drowned I was twelve or thirteen, on a school P.E trip to Hillingdon Outdoor Activities Centre* (HOAC accepts no responsibility for my injuries and nor should they, I am an idiot and responsible for what happened, there is not a representative from HOAC sitting next to me as I write this. Promise.) After a successful task creating rafts from barrels, planks and rope, we were rewarded with a rope swing into a murky lake. For this, we were required to wear helmets. Unfortunately, the biggest helmet they had was still too small for me but (this is the part where I’m an idiot) I didn’t say anything. The strap around my neck was basically choking me before I got onto the rope swing, and when I hit the water it tightened, making me thrash around and swallow a bunch of water. I ended up coughing up blood after being pulled to the shore of the lake. I did also get the next day off of school though so… silver linings I guess.
The second time I almost drowned was in Canada. This time it was a lot less exciting and more accidental than anything. I was travelling with family and went to a public pool attached to the hot springs near Calgary. Somehow, I took a knock underwater and had the wind taken out of me. I also started to panic and thrash around (again). As the edges of my vision started to fade to black, like a creeping vignette, I felt someone grab and pull my hand as it was falling under the surface. I vaguely remember dry heaving and thanking the random man who had seen me flaying around underwater. After that I avoided putting my head underwater for years. The closest I got was in Japan, when I went to Okinawa. I took a break from the white sand beaches to put on a full face snorkel mask and go into the turquoise sea. Since almost drowning, I hadn’t submerged myself in a body of water or been swimming for fear of it happening again.
Cut to my local leisure centre. On the day, I was feeling waves of anxiety broken up by moments of determination. I showered, put on my swimming cap and went in to the FREEZING COLD WATER. The smell of chlorine already had my heart racing but the sudden shock of the cold water made me think my heart had just stopped.
I lied, I couldn’t do this. Why did I think I could do this?
A few deep breaths later and ok, I did it. I was in the water. Standing up. In the shallow end.
Either way, I did it.
One last deep breath and I was underwater. I’d forgotten how muffled everything sounded and how blurry everything looked beneath the surface, which were nice thoughts to distract me from the anxiety I was feeling. After a while I calmed down and ended up doing a lap or two of the pool. I was grateful for the hot shower afterwards and to have faced my fear.
Will I be the next Michael Phelps? Absolutely not.
Will I swim again anytime soon? Probably not either. Sorry Marc.
Am I grateful I did this? Sure. Thanks Marc. Happy New Year.
Song of the SCAB: NF – 10 Feet Down https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=My5lL0_sURw