Monday, May 24, 2004

Painful Undertow

Most of my childhood, my sister and cousin both kept trying to convince grandpa to take them to Hawaii. Finally they succeeded. But grandpa didn't want to have to go more than once, so one summer he took all five of his grandchildren to Hawaii for a week.

Most of the week was planned out, busy siteseeing, going places, doing things. Pearl Harbor, a Polynesian village, volcanoes and waterfalls, near the end of the week people were finally getting really tired. But I'd yet to get to actually swim in the ocean.

How one can be on an island and not have the chance to really swim, I don't know. I love water though, and simply adore the ocean, so I had to make sure I made it to swim in a Real Ocean at least once. Everyone else ended up having something they wanted to do one evening (mostly being sleeping, I believe), so I got grandpa, and he took me swimming. He, of course, didn't go swimming himself, but that's another story. Or three.

So I got in the water, and start playing around. I knew I wasn't used to the current, so I tested it out a bit, staying near the shore, where I could touch bottom, until I got used to the feel. Finally, I got brave enough and headed out a bit further.

Of course, that's the same time that the huge wave decides to come along. So right there in the middle-ground, between where the wave starts cresting and where I can be fairly certain of touching ground, I was caught. The wave crashing above my head, I knew I was going under, so the best choice was obviously to go right through.

I obviously still wasn't used to the current.

With the wave crashing over my head, I got turned upside down, but the water churning and the current pulling and everything, I couldn't tell which way was up. Swimming as hard as I could, I finally reached out..and grabbed a fist full of sand. To make matters worse, the current was pulling me in two different directions, and my knee didn't much care for that. I've had some knee problems, but it doesn't get much more frightening than upside down in the ocean, rapidly running out of breath, and now unable to use a leg.

Of course, being out in the middle of the Pacific, the waves in general were fairly huge. So the wave quickly passed, and a valley came, putting me in about knee-depth water. Knowing which way is up helps get rid of a ton of panic. Even if there's another wave coming.

Even though I knew what I wanted, it sure hurt a lot to get my swim in the ocean. A fairly terrifying experience, not something that I'd like to relive.

Yet, I still love the ocean.

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