Ladies of Hive Community Contest #83: Not child’s play - Aquaphobia

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(Edited)

Jamaica

“Ok I am going to die – but I am still so young.”. These words probably best expressed my thoughts as I felt as though I was drowning on a beautiful but scary day. I was at Hellshire Beach on the Caribbean island of Jamaica with my family. I was swimming and showing off my newly learnt skills. My siblings and I had made “friends” with some of the other children our age. We were having fun.

We were close to the shore and could all stand in the sea with the water at about chest height. However, we started fooling around as some of the kids “dunked” each other in the water. Each child would break free on a timely basis and resurfaced or the kids would release the child in order to resurface. I knew it was my turn. I was scared and after being submerged - I panicked and immediately inhaled water. I was flailing around underwater but no one seemed to notice that this was serious. I thought surely my brother was there and would save me. I cannot say that I remember much thereafter. I was told that an adult intervened and brought me to shore. I was unconscious and CPR was administered and I am here to tell the story.
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I was about 10 and decided to never go back into a body of water. Going to the beach had a new meaning for me. My parents never encouraged me to swim either – neither in a pool nor at the beach. My swimming days were over. My parent accepted it. I had no fear of visiting beaches or sailing and everyone was always told beforehand that I cannot swim and that I had a fear of drowning. I began to have nightmares about drowning and that my parents were nowhere around. I had aquaphobia.

Greece

All our friends and family knew but of course not strangers. Now I was 22 and travelling on my own. I was with 1 American acquaintance, Liz -that I met 1 ½ weeks before and 2 Dutch guys, Jan and Paul, that we met 2 days before in Brindisi, Italy. We decided to travel together to Santorini and we booked a day trip on a large wooden sailing ship. I told my acquaintances that I could not swim – they thought it was a pity but understood. When the ship anchored off the coast of a small island, everyone undressed. Some were thrown into the water. Others sprung into the sea by themselves. I stood on deck, watching all the action. Jan jumped in first, then Liz. Paul was chatting with some girls, we met the night before-he was still on deck. I was asked whether I would go in and I told everyone that I could not swim. Some joked and thought I was not telling the truth. Suddenly, I was grabbed from behind by 2 strangers. They were going to throw me into the sea. I froze and could not speak. I was saved by Paul who saw the panic in my face. I could hear him shouting as he summoned them to put me down by saying I could not swim. The young men apologized. I was in a state of shock and was quite anxious thereafter, but the rest of the day went without incident after the initial shock.

The Netherlands

I knew that I needed to do something to change my situation. I was now a young adult and wanted to do things other adults did without fear. I wanted to feel normal. Afterall, I did not mind being close to water - just not in it. I wished my parents had encouraged me to continue swimming instead of allowing me to wallow in my fear. They thought they were doing the right thing. I still could not face the thought of being in a body of water again as I had no control of the water. I did not really want to think or talk about it.

Despite wanting to learn, it still took 3 years after Santorini to enroll myself for private swimming lessons. The teacher was a tough but an understanding person. I wore arm, flotation waist and ankle bands. Children at the pool often stared and asked what was wrong with me. I think they were not accustomed to seeing an adult learning to swim and in this manner. This is The Netherlands and swimming mostly starts from the child is a baby to 2 years old. I did not mind. I was on a mission. It was very difficult. Once I even started to cry. I persevered and soon the bands were removed. After 30 lesson one hour lessons, I realized that the familiar knot was no longer in my stomach. I still have some anxiety.

Even recounting this story was not pleasant for me but I decided to write it last minute nevertheless.

I still need to mentally prepare myself when I know that I will be in water or on a boat. I actually enjoy sailing and swimming now but will not voluntarily jump into the ocean.



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40 comments
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I don't know how to swim, when I was a teenager a doctor recommended me to do it or to relieve the pain in my joints something I've had all my life, but I didn't have time or money to enroll in a class, I hope I don't die before I have the opportunity to learn, but so far I still have no time, I think a drowning experience terrifies me, that's why I found your story very interesting, I congratulate you for having managed to swim

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I am sorry about your joint pains and that you were not able to do the lessons. I hope you found other ways to relieve the pain. It was a horrible experience and I am so happy that I can now swim but it is not a hobby.

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Hi @momogrow! Congratulations on overcoming this! I never learned to swim as a child either, and in fact, had a similar experience in a neighbor's swimming pool at a young age. I am okay in a pool as an adult as I did eventually learn to keep myself from drowning, but if you tossed me into a bottomless body of water like the ocean, I might not be able not to panic and drown. I am glad you've been able to learn to swim. Thank you for sharing something that wasn't easy. Take care! !LADY

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Aww sorry to hear that you also had a terrible experience. I am happhy that you got over it as an adult. Thanks for sharing with me - I know you totally get how this feels. Many thanks for the tip.

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Oh... that is one scary experience. Sometimes as kids, we love to have fun but then some would overdo it. Glad that you decided to face your fear and enrolled in a swimming class, hopefully one day soon, the childhood experience would no longer give you anxiety...
!LADY

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Thank you so much. Yes I hope to be able to feel comfortable one day. Kids do not realise sometimes and take their fun too far. Mny thanks for the tip.

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You are welcome :) All the best to you today and always💗

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Completely understandable reactions considering you had drowned at 10 and had to be revived.
It is good you are tackling this fear by facing it.
Learning to swim will absolutely be the best thing you can do in this situation as it will give you more confidence near bodies of water.
Keep being brave my friend you got this @momogrow 😎👍
!ALIVE !CTP 😉

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(Edited)

Many thanks for your kind words, for the tip and your encouragement.

The tips- You are Alive - is so appropriate!!

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You are most welcome i agree very appropriate @momogrow
Have a wonderful week ahead 😎
!ALIVE !CTP !LOL !PIZZA

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Its correct that we have kids learning to swim from two years old and that we also have school lessons for swimming . Glad to know that your lessons took away th knot.
!lady

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Yes thank you - the knot is gone but swimming is not hobby.
Yes -I also ensured that my children learnt to swim and received all their diplomas early. My daughters even did synchronized swimming which I believe is the ultimate control of one’s body in water. I have a lot of respect for them.

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Sounds cool and not a sport you hear a lot. Might be a great to do a blog about it
Happy Monday

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Happy Monday to you too.
My girls stopped synchronized swimming but that is a nice idea - thank you. I will consider how to blog about it.

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You seem to have found a way to deal with your fear. More power to you. Thanks for sharing.

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Many thanks - yes - I did it finally although it was difficult.

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I can understand how something like that would leave a child traumatised.
And you were lucky that adult noticed! Accidents like that just happen too often, unfortunately.
I remember my sister and I 'playing' in similar ways. I could already swim at the time but I absolutely hated being held under water. I still don't like it now.

But I'm glad that you faced your fears and did something about it.
That's a very brave thing to do. Well done!

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Thanks so much. Yes I was lucky and blessed. You can empathise - that under water feeling when one feels overwhelmed is the worst. Thank you. It was a hard journey but I knew I had to do something. Those first steps were needed but swimming is still not the same for me.

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I applaud you for overcoming your fear of water and learning how to swim. It can be a matter of life and death in many unforeseen situations (flash flood, auto accident causing the vehicle to go into water, etc). The dunking episode you endured when you were ten was unfortunate and traumatizing. I will never understand why some think it's funny to force others underwater.

Thank you for sharing your story with us! @momogrow 🏊‍♀️ 🏝 🏊‍♂️

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Thanks you @ninahaskin. It is a stange game. The trauma and experience ensured that my kids all learnt to swim and have diploma at a very young age. My son got his first diploma at only 5.

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That you had your children learn to swim when they were little is commendable and somehow helps mend the traumatic experience you had. An example of a good mother's protective survival mode kicking in! @momogrow

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Thank you so much - that is exactly what happened. My children learnt to swim at a young age and got all the diplomas. My daughters even did synchronised swimming which was amazing. They do not do it anymore but I think that is the ultimate in control in the water.

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It's quite strange for me reading that you took swimming lessons, maybe because I never witnessed someone doing so. Like it's more common to learn on your own or with some assistance from people you swim with.

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Hmmm - did you have a chance to read the story and understand why happened?

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Of course and understandably so. I only pointed out the fact that, I had never experienced/learned about someone taking like an official swimming lesson.

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Ok I now understand your comment better.
There are also different customs in different localities of the world.
In addition based on my experience it was necessary.

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And I'm equally convinced that you got my point. I made the comment out the fact that you already know my background and know it's a different lifestyle. We don't have swimming teachers, that's why I found it to be strange and I couldn't help but point out the fact that I learned something new. I wasn't intending to be rude in any way.

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