I couldn’t breathe. The water swamped around me,choking and suffocating me. I could only see a swirl of blue. My eyesight dimmed as I frantically struggled to get to the surface. My lungs were bursting and I was getting tired of holding my breath. I stopped struggling when my body refused to cooperate. I thought I imagined some blurred shapes swimming above me,diving towards me. Maybe it was a face? My eyes closed and I blacked out as the last sliver of hope I saw disappeared.
I woke up,coughing and spluttering. I tried to open my eyes and winced at the chlorine which made them burn. I saw anxious faces and blinked furiously,but they wouldn’t fall into focus. I saw a doctor and maybe a nurse? I was too tired to enquire where I was. Too tired to notice,even,that I was breathing. I was still in the panic mode,wondering about the swirling blue,the breath of life,so far away that I couldn’t reach it and the horrible brush with death due to drowning.
I came to in a hospital bed,immediately struggling to sit up. The nurse held me down and somehow the reassurance she gave me comforted me. The door opened and my family rushed in with anxious enquiries about my health that made my head hurt. I could remember very little. Just how I had got cramps,how I couldn’t swim,the cold feeling of the creepy hand of death closing upon me… I shivered. I refused to think about it. I was a good swimmer,a champion at that. I had learnt it at a very young age. Water was like a second home to me. This suffocation,this fear,it was something I had never been able to comprehend before. For probably the first time in my life,I was relieved to be out of the water.
Months after the .. incident(as I like to call it) I still couldn’t get into the water. Some irrational panic caught hold of me. It was building up walls of fear in my mind such that the very thought of water made me want to run screaming in the opposite direction. It was some mental block which made me unable to move a muscle. The underwater breathing that I would do so easily,became more of a dream to me. I never associated myself with swimming anymore.It was like a book of life in which I had skipped one chapter. It seemed like a dream. I was always relieved when I got out of the water,even if it was the shallow end. My swimming career ended there. I could never ever enter the pool again.