May 22, 2011
By Madeline Grimm BRONZE, Stewartville, Minnesota
Madeline Grimm BRONZE, Stewartville, Minnesota
2 articles 0 photos 0 comments

The gentle water enveloping me turns to ice. My heart pounds out of control and my lungs start to burn like someone set them on fire. The beautiful, gently swaying weeds turn into clawing hands trying to pull me down. The dark unknown becomes menacing rather than interestingly curious. I can not tell which way is up and wonder if I will ever make it to the surface in time to stop the burning in my lungs. My fingers and toes are freezing and my mind goes blank. I can not comprehend what I need to do to make it to the surface and breathe in the fresh, cool air. My body freezes with indecision and I slowly sink into the depths of the water.

This has never happened to me and I hope it never will happen. This is a description of one of my greatest fears. Despite my fear of drowning, I went scuba diving. I had my doubts about diving and I was scared of what could have happened but I still went. I did not let my fear stop me from having a great time. If I had another chance to go scuba diving, nothing would stop me.

It was the middle of summer, about a week after the 4th of July I think, and I was finally going to camp. I had been so excited to go because I was going to learn to scuba dive. I went to the camp with one of my friends and we had quickly become friends with the other girls. On the second or third day at the camp, we had taken a bus to a campground and learned how to dive in their pool. It had been weird at first but, after a while, everyone had been swimming around comfortably under the glassy surface of the water.

The night before the scheduled dive was when the terror set in. I no longer wanted to scuba dive; so many things could go wrong.

“Why did you let me sign us up for this?” I had asked my friend. I felt so bad that my parents had paid for me to come and do something that I did not want to do anymore.

“I have no idea,” she replied. “I am really nervous now.”
I considered asking one of the counselors if we could skip the scuba diving but I decided to wait. I had decided to wait until we were actually at the lake the next day to decide if I really wanted to do it.

The day was just warm enough for shorts. The sky was cloudy and it was slightly breezy. The sand was dry and a little warm beneath my bare feet as I shivered from my nerves. It was around noon and it was our turn to go diving in the lake. The wetsuit was slightly damp from the previous group that had dived before me. The suit clung to my skin as I pulled it on. The suit chilled my skin and increased my shivering to the point of visible shaking. My nerves calmed a little as I slowly waded into the water. The suit made the water seem much warmer than normally would feel. I stopped at the end of the dock, about up to my stomach, and started putting on all of my gear. The instructor lifted the heavy air tank off of the dock and helped me strap it on. Then I wrapped the weight belt that would help me stay underwater while diving around my waist. The combined weight of the belt and tank made my body feel heavier than a pile of bricks. I sat back in the water and the weight easily pulled me under the water. I did not worry about the weight preventing me from coming to the surface though. My vest that held my air tank also filled with air to keep me floating with no effort once on the surface. My flippers, strapped to my feet, would easily propel me to the surface if needed. The goggles would let me see underwater. I started worrying when it came to the air regulator. What if the regulator broke and I couldn’t breathe? I knew the air tanks had a couple of hours worth of air in them, but I was in the last group. What if the air ran out? I was even worried about getting lost underwater and not being able to find my way to the surface. I was determined to go though. The instructor led my friend and I out into the deeper water. My head slowly slid under the water.

Fear seized my body. I couldn’t make out anything in the dark, murky green of the water. I focused on my tightly grasping the rope that led to the buoy on the surface of the lake. That rope was my connection to the normal world with fresh air that filled my lungs. I relaxed a little and I could start to make out shapes in the endless expanse of green. My friend swam comfortingly next to me and the instructor was in front of us, confidently leading us forward. The sight of other people made me relax enough to think rationally. Nothing was going to happen. I could now see the seaweed dancing in the water underneath me. It was an enormous layer covering the entire floor of the lake. I watched a lone fish slowly swimming past me. The water blanketed me like cool silk. My jaw started to ache from biting down so hard on the mouthpiece of my regulator and my hand was cramping from grasping the rope so tightly. I could feel myself breathing heavily. It felt like I was breathing water because of the regulator. I had to move my diaphragm more forcefully to get a good breath. The air from the tank was very dry and my mouth soon felt like sandpaper. I could hear myself breathing loudly and I could hear the bubbles, spewing from my mouth, floating to the surface. My feet leisurely propelled the combined weight of my body and my gear forward. I could not tell where we were going and I didn’t care, but we were soon heading into shallower water. We had been swimming for an hour already but it felt like it had only been a couple of minutes. My body felt heavy as I hauled myself from the water and the cool breeze felt like an icy blast. I wrapped my towel around me. It felt like it had come straight from a drier. We dragged ourselves off to eat lunch.

I was so happy that I had gone through with it. I can’t imagine that it even compares to diving in an ocean but it was still a wonderful experience. I was afraid once I got used to it and I never would have experienced that if I had decided not to go. I had faced my fear of drowning and experienced something so amazing. This event put my fear in perspective and has allowed me to do many different things that I would not have even considered doing before this. It did not erase my fear but it did let me see it in a less intimidating way. I will never let my fear stop me from doing something new.

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