Lake of Fear

February 13, 2008
By Megan Bunde, Stewartville, MN

I started to panic as I felt the sandy bottom slip from under my feet. The murky lake water came pouring over my head like a waterfall. I yelled “Angie, Charlotte, Help me!” but the water hit my face and went in my mouth and up my nose. It smothered my words. My arms were flapping as if I were trying to fly. My legs kicked wildly as if I were fighting off a bear. My panic was soon replaced by fear. The only thing going through my head was that someone needs to help me. I could not believe what was happening. It was like a scene from a horror film. I was drowning…

I never was a good swimmer. They say some people are naturally drawn to water and some to land. Well, I was drawn to land. That would explain why I waited till I was twelve and a half to learn to swim. Water made me uncomfortable so that alone made it difficult to learn to swim. Watching me swim was like watching a cat try to swim in water. It was depressing. I did get more comfortable with it…eventually. I was cautious when I did swim. I never swam past were I could touch the bottom and I always swam with another person.

I will never forget the day, a few months after I had learned to swim; my sisters and I went to the beach. It is a day I will keep with me the rest of my life. I remember that day like I remember my telephone number. We started out just laying on the beach. It was a chance for us to catch up on our tanning. The sun beat down on us like a magnifying glass beating down on ants. There was a gently breeze that smelled of barbecue for the near by campers grilling. The day was going perfect until my sisters wanted to take a swim.

“Megan, are you coming?” my sister Angie asked. I did not want to go swimming at that moment so I lied. “No. I’m not feeling too good. I’ll just watch you and Charlotte swim.” I replied. “Okay,” they both replied. So I lay on the beach and watched my two sisters swim. It did look like fun. Maybe I should join them I thought to myself. They looked like they were having the time of their life. I did not want to miss out on all the fun.

I stood up, but I hesitated. I was still scared of the water some and I knew I was not that great of swimmer. As I looked at them, they looked like little bugs. They were swimming out farther and farther. I thought I should hurry and try to catch them before they got too far out.

I raced down the mountains of sand like a sprinter to try and catch them. When I reached the end of the beach, I dived in the water with no hesitation. The water was cool and refreshing like a soda on a hot day. “Hey wait for me you guys!” I yelled as I started to swim out to them but the wind ate my words. So I kept swimming. It seemed to be talking forever. I tried to hurry but I got tired so, I had so slow down.

The water was still shallow so I started to walk. I was tired of swimming. The sandy bottom of the lake felt good on my feet. I felt pretty safe swimming by myself since I could still touch the bottom of the lake. I was proud of myself for actually being in the water. I felt as if I were invincible.

I kept walking and with surprise the bottom of the lake vanished as if I were in a magic show. There was a drop off and I stepped right off it. I was not prepared for this sudden change. It was so frightening. I started to panic and not think. I needed to calm down. “Help! Help! Help!” I yelled out. The water ate my words. I thought I was going to die. There were so many people around earlier but now it seemed as if I were the only person alive. I only hoped my sisters would come for me. The seconds seemed like hours. No one was around to help. Finally, I felt a firm hand grip my shoulder. When I looked up, I saw my sisters pulling me in to shallow water.
All the fear I had suddenly vanished and was replaced by a feeling of safety. I was so scared that I was not going to live another day. That was the first time I had truly been terrified. That incident has prevented me from enjoying swimming. I am haunted by it every time I step foot in water. I was truly scared the moment I almost drown. I have not felt that fear again since then. I realize now what true fear is. Fear is like love: you do not know what it feels like until you truly experience it. It changes your life forever.

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