7 January 2024

The story of two snorkelers… Part Rajib

Now when it gets to water, I am the polar opposite of Nikita (see Part Nikita). 25 years lived with a pool in the house – never quite figured out how to swim. Well, I can swim for a few yards, as long as somebody guarantees me that if I want to stand up, there will be ground under my feet. Moment I realize that I cannot, I start panicking.

When I retired, it was one of my goals to get comfortable with swimming in 2023. Of course, then I went back to work and all my plans – pardon the pun – unceremoniously drowned!

Decided to give snorkeling a shot. The first thing I realized is that you cannot put the gear over your glasses. Which is a bit of a bother for a person like me who is blind as a bat without the glasses. And then being under water without being able to see will immediately cause me to panic.

Anyways, once the girls had quite finished laughing at me with my gear on, I waited for all the snorkelers to leave the boat. Sharmila stayed on board with a few others. I decided to give it a shot by myself. I will hold on to the boat, I had reasoned. Little realizing how difficult that flapper thing will make it if I did not know the technique.

Before this, we had a trial in shallow waters without the flappers. It was only a few feet deep. I did well with the breathing and exploring. Except there were no fish around.

When the real test came, it was a whole different question. The waves and winds were high. And somebody had made the mistake of asking the captain how deep the water was. Moment I knew it was 9 feet, all sorts of fear psychosis started setting in.

I was still going to do it.

So, with nobody around and Sharmila keeping a watch out, I got down and held on to the boat stair. Breathing was fine. I was able to get away from the boat for a couple of feet. And saw a blue tang! (Remember Dora from Finding Nemo?”.

A few minutes later, I got a little more brave. Tried to swim away from the boat – all the while facing the boat to make sure I could make a dash for it if I panicked. Raised my head once to realize that the waves had drifted me to the starboard side.

I started swimming to get to the original position. Which is what I managed to do. But I think since I do not know how to swim well, I was exerting a lot of pressure. In about another two minutes, I thought I took in some water in my mouth.

And that is when I panicked. At that point there was no trying to reason with my mind. My amygdala had completely put me in a fight or flight mode. The feeling was similar to when I get claustrophobic attacks in small airplanes. Kept thrashing my way around. Sharmila realized this and called the Captain.

I signaled that I am okay. In reality, I had taken off my tube to raise my head to breathe. This made swimming more difficult. But I could thrash my way to boat parts, mooring buoys which were within a feet.

Eventually, reached the stairs of the boat and sat up. Somehow I was determined to conquer this one. In the meanwhile, all that thrashing meant my calf muscles had started cramping up. Between the captain helping me with a different gear and more helpful tips, I still could not get out of the vicious cycle of getting into the water only to get some water in my mouth immediately and panic my way back to the stairs.

After half a dozen attempts, I decided that I was at too high a level of panic to succeed. This is where having 5 feet water nearby would have helped to practice again to calm down.

So, there was my short attempt at snorkeling. One blue tang deep!!

For a person who loves the isalnds so much, I wonder what has stopped me from getting comfortable with water.

Posted January 7, 2024 by Rajib Roy in category "Vacations


  1. Pingback: The story of two snorkelers… Part Nikita – Rajib Roy

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