Saturday, January 05, 2013

New Years Day 2013 - the day I nearly died

Damn, I nearly drowned today.

I went to Back Beach 16, in Rye with a friend who didn't swim.

The surf was rough as usual but I didn't think it would be a problem as I had swum in similar conditions before.

On the left side a high school crowd was sunbathing and one of the cute girls was wadding in the surf, ankle deep only.

I terribly underestimated the power of the sea. Foolishly I didn't choose to wear my fins because it would have made running into the surf awkward. I still wore my wetsuit and my hood.

I rushed into the surf, a wave knocked my mask so hard, the snokel came out. That should have already served as a warning sign but I didn't pay heed to it.

I swam further out and then I realized, "I'm stuck. I can't swim back." The sea held me in its grasp. When I swam forward, the tide pulled me back. And then it dawned on me - and so it should - the tide was changing.

Damn, I'm stuck; I'm going to drown.

Each time I tried to swim back, the receding tide would grab me and pull me back. Shockingly I found myself further away from the shore. The cold was getting to me and I was tired. Whats worse, I was swallowing too much salt water.

When you go scuba diving, you just inflate your BCD or use your air tank to swim under the currents - being used to that sort of experience made me ill-prepared for this.

I could see the people on shore but I was too embarrassed to call out for help.

Lying on my back , I closed my eyes and told myself not to panic. And I started to swim diagonally from the tide - it was slow progress but eventually I got back to shore - dumped unceremoniously onto the beach like a whale. Covered in sand, I was an awful sight to behold.

I walked back to my friend - and lay on the sand - vomiting out salt water. My head was pounding like crazy probably due to all the salt water in my system.

My expensive Aqua Atomic clear mask was lost when a wave wacked me hard on the way back; but I got a damn lesson.

The experience was sobering but also bizarre for me. For a few days I was wondering whether I had actually drowned and that God was letting me "live" a few more days on Earth. Everything I did afterwards took on a heightened, surreal sensation. "Wow, I'm eating", "Cool I'm watching a movie now", "I'm eating popcorn instead of sand!!!" etc..

It did lead me to appreciate what I have; I guess occasionally idiots like me have to experience this sort of harrowing episode and taste the sting of disaster more palpably to make us more conscious of ourselves.

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