Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Drowning panic

I didn't spend a lot of time in the ocean while in OBX. The surf was very rough and choppy. Plus, our rental house was in front of a sand bar, so waves were crashing twice in the space where I'd go into the water.

On Thursday, though, I gave it a go. We ran four sweaty, gross miles in the morning and figured we could take the ocean as a cool down.

My boyfriend immediately swam out to the sand bar. He's a soccer keeper and exceptionally strong. I soon followed, but didn't fare as well. I was fatigued from the run, and my upper body strength isn't what it used to be. I kept getting pushed back by the surf, and pulled sideways by the current. I could feel my body was tired, my muscles sapped, but I kept trying because I could see him standing there waiting for me.

Then I panicked. Why couldn't I touch the bottom? Why couldn't I get to him? I swam harder, tried harder, and got nowhere. Panic grew.

I see now why people drown in the ocean. Even though I was not in dire need, being stuck in the water with no quick way out is terrifying. I stopped struggling when a lesson about rip tides finally blared in my brain - that struggling against them is not the right idea. Instead, I relaxed and let the waves carry me back into shore. But I can see how the scales could tip another way, and I'd have been in a lot of trouble.

Which brings me to the young man who drowned in Ocean City over the weekend. Please be careful if you're heading out into the ocean now, especially on unguarded beaches, which most are. This is a tragedy that I hope is never repeated.

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1 comment:

Ann Delaney said...

Glad you shared your experience. I think many people under estimate the power of the ocean. I am waiting for the rip currents and high waves to settle before going back out ocean kayaking. I wear a life vest, but am still extra cautious.