I learned to swim when I was younger, and as long as my head stays above the water, I’m good. But once water hits the top of my head, panic sets in. I start to have a hard time breathing and no matter what I do, I can’t get any air. This can happen when I shower sometimes. Just rising off my hair and suddenly the water will start flowing over my face and I have to quickly step back as I find myself suddenly gasping for air.
When I was a kid, my Mom took us to learn to swim. There was this huge swimming complex up on the hill and even now, I can vividly remember the large room we’d enter with the massive diving board and that smell of chlorine. Despite what I am about to tell you, it brings such rush of joy thinking to that moment, or any moment I go near a pool. Which, to be really honest, I find bizarre based off what I tell you next.
I don’t remember the dates or anything more specific, except that I was young. Maybe ten or eleven, I think it was around the third or fourth grade. Anyway, my Mom had dropped us off for our lessons and all started off well. To be honest, I just remember being told that we had to climb the diving board today and jump off. I don’t know how far up it really was, but in my memory it was like three or four stories and the climb took forever. I kind of remember the bars hurting my feet as I went up, they bit into the skin so I wouldn’t slip.
Never having a fear of heights, I ascended to the top. I think I did fight to not go up, I wasn’t scared of how high it was, but the coming down part was freaking me out. But I did make it up to the top. As the next thing I remember was the blueish water all around me and also feeling the bottom of the swimming pool just, every so lightly, tapping my bottom on the pool floor. I can still visualize how incredibly stunning the water was down at the bottom. It was rather bright, the pool walls look like a greenish yellow and everything flickered as the blue water reflected around.
The next memory I have is all sorts of people all around me. Every was crouched down and leaning over me. I was all wet and a bit cold though I remember being nice and warm, as I was laying on the side of the pool. Somehow I’d went from looking around the underwater enchanted land seconds ago to being flat on my back poolside with several people looking down at me. I think I coughed a couple times and then I heard my Mom. She was livid and screaming at people. Beyond someone saying I told them I didn’t want to do it and making me do it (jumping off the diving board is what I assume). I don’t recall exactly what else she was yelling, from there the memory fades.
I’m assuming I’d not climbed out of the pool on my own and had to be rescued. The look and panic, plus the much older people crouched over me and me being all wet like a rag doll, makes me think I’d been rescued and didn’t climb out on my own. My Mom had dropped us off, town was a good 15-20 minutes away, so how she’d gotten back so quickly … kind of scares me. I wonder how long I was actually out as it would have taken my Mom time to get back.
But to this day, some almost 50 years later, that is all I recall. Now days, I love the water, but can’t dare get my head to close to it or I panic, and I think a part of me knows what happens next even if I can’t remember.