Today is the 4th Anniversary of my near drowning. Wait is that the right word? Anniversaries are usually happy occasions, depending to whom you are married, ok well I am happy to be alive!
The afternoon started off happy enough, it was a Friday and I took off work early to spend time with the guy I had recently started dating. It was a beautiful day to head to the beach.
For some women being seen in a swimsuit by their new man for the first time would be scary enough. For me, it wasn’t an issue. We arrive at the beach, and I notice it was really windy. I even said “wow, it’s really windy is there any warnings posted?”(Famous last words #1) I looked up and down the beach at several nearby lifeguard stands and saw no red or yellow flags posted.
So after laying our blanket out we headed into the water. The waves were a bit rough, so we agreed not to go “too far”. We began talking about how nice the day was, how we liked the beach, he then asked me “how well can you swim?” (Famous last words #2), I replied that I was a decent swimmer but I had back up since FAT FLOATS. He then told me that I was in good hands because he used to be a junior lifeguard. (Famous last words #3)
At nearly that very moment a big wave crashed over us and knocked my sunglasses off my face. The water was so shallow and clear I could see my sunglasses in the sand below us and we both tried to pick them up. At this same time more waves were crashing over us and we soon realized we were out farther than we should be, then a huge wave hit and knocked his REAL glasses off his face. The situation turned SERIOUS within seconds.
He was taller than me and was able to get his footing in the sand; I on the other hand was being pulled out with each wave that crashed. As the waves crashed I would get close enough to almost reach his hand, but then get pulled right back out to sea. This occurred a couple times until I realized I was in a rip current and I should not fight it. I had heard on the news how to survive a rip current and told him we needed to stop, I needed to let it take me. I was pulled out a bit farther and another wave crashed over me and pushed me under water a few seconds that felt like minutes. As I came up I told myself to catch a big breath so I could handle the “next” hit.
Just then I noticed the lifeguards on the beach with a rescue truck waving to me; they then waved their arms indicating I was out to far and needed to “come in”. You think? I immediately thought “IT’S YOUR JOB TO GET ME TO SHORE!”…realizing they didn’t know I was in distress I yelled out “HELP ME”. With that they came running. My boyfriend was still in the water, as he never gave up trying to help me. Even though he didn’t need recued, one lifeguards tended to him by making him grab a life ring and walk to shore. Another lifeguard swam out to me with a board and helped me climb on top and he paddled in the short distance to shore. As he paddled I apologized several times for getting out so far, he then replied “you’re just lucky we were here, with all the recent budget cuts we do not patrol as often.” Yes, I am!
Once on shore, the lifeguards asked me a few questions about how I felt and had me fill out an incident report. I felt tired, but ok, I had not swallowed any water that I remembered. They warned me of the signs to watch for in case I had actually swallowed water, then they showed me a “safer” area to go back in the water. I replied “oh we won’t be going back in the water today!”
We sat down on our blanket just to rest before heading to the car. The CAR! It’s was a stick shift, I couldn’t drive a stick shift and he had no GLASSES! Thankfully, he kept a spare pair of glasses in his gym bag. Whew another disaster diverted. So we headed back to my apartment changed and went to dinner.
So much excitement for one day!
I am thankful to be alive, I have to admit with all the previous scary health issues I had encountered I was already living life to the fullest…thus taking the afternoon off to head to the beach! The incident did make me more aware of the importance to always swim near a lifeguards stand, and to stay out of the water in windy conditions, even if caution flags are not posted, AND that no matter how buoyant my bootie might be, never underestimate the power of the ocean!
I kept our parking receipt as a memento of the day.