Carried Undertow by Riptide, Survived But How Long Underwater?

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3. Underwater Trouble- Don’t Panic Follow the Bubbles

Number one Rule in Underwater Disasters, whether one was trained scuba diver, or only a week-end swimmer, when emergencies occur

Read first part here:

Beautiful Black Killer

Then came the thought; “RELAX.” “RELAX.” “RELAX.”

She said it to herself three times, relaxing all her muscles and senses as she uttered each one as if an incantation. So she stayed under water, relaxed in this position.

To tell it honestly, she did not know how long she was underwater..

All that she knew was she was in no hurry to do anything else until, and unless she was given the “go ahead” to tackle the next step to her predicament..

After a time of waiting — LIGHT!!

Here came the light!

This was what she was waiting for. She wanted to be sure that every step she undertook underwater counted towards her survival. She was in no rush to expend energy in trying. She had to be absolutely sure.

Soon as the light came on she stared at it and marveled that, “the sun is still up there!” Of course the sun was up there! She just meant that the sun was still out overhead but she just came out of total darkness! Also that it was not nearly as late judging from the “overhead” position of it. It could have been at least 45 degrees setting, but it wasn’t. It was still overhead, as if it was waiting for her..

-to light her way!

As excited, glad, whatever emotions they were, she never matched it with “rushing”..

She saw her hair extend up that way. “Ah.. so that way was up. I’ll follow my hair,” she told herself.

As she moved to get ready to swim up towards the light- a great big bubble, as big as her fist got in front of her face, so close it was almost touching her eyelids..

She looked at it. She denoted the different prism colors in it. So beautiful as it twirled in front of her eyes.

“Follow the bubble,” she thought again. While she swam a constant thought filled her mind; “do not rush” unless you’re sure..

It’s funny that in all these jumbles of “commands of sense” at the time- she never longed for air. It’s as if she never needed it. Why that was- the question made her smile even now.. why ask?

As she continued her ascent, finally she could make out the surface of the water. It rippled in the wind. This “wrinkling” of the surface was different from wind-driven waves. If it was windy and waves rushed, the surface would not be this clear, she won’t see “wrinkles” instead current that was wind-driven. This surface as she looked at it looked pretty, like the smooth surface of a pool, or a tranquil lake with only a very slight movement creating the wrinkles she saw…

She stuck her right arm up to test the distance of the surface from her position. if it’s really eminent then she’d feel the cold air on her wet hand. If the surface was still a distance then she won’t feel cold air. She didn’t feel that coldness. So- she’s still aways from it.

She kept her composure all this time. What was a few more feet? There was no immediate need for air anyway. She thought that if she rushed two things would happen if indeed she was still a distance from the surface:

1- with the sudden expenditure of her energy her body would run out of oxygen quicker which would make her heart gasp for air, and herself rush even faster to the surface to take that first breath. This can be safely called “panicking.” NOT good!

2- in that case either she would pop her lungs from the sudden acceleration without breaks for acclimation, or just faint a few feet away from the surface for need of oxygen..

-she’d rather not put herself into these dilemmas.

She diligently listened to that voice that told her exactly what to do. She followed that bubble. It was her companion. It was her guide to safety, she can’t possibly swim faster than it to overtake it and abandon it behind.. no. She’s going to follow it and for both of them to come to their safe conclusions! Buddies!

A few more kicks and she tested for the surface again by extending her arm. Following the bubble meant that she was going straight up vertical, which covered a shorter distance although she was ascending slowly. By this time the light was getting brighter. The bubble also was fused with more radiance. It shimmered brilliantly in the light.

Finally- pop!! SURFACE!! Fresh air!!

She breathed in slowly, half-way only. She didn’t want a full chest gulp of cold air. Somehow that wasn’t the right thing to do even when now on the surface..

After she calmed down enough that her breathing was back to normal, she looked around..

Holy —-!! She was THIS FAR AWAY FROM THE BEACH!!!!


She thought this. She already survived the riptide itself. She’s almost home free. She had tidied herself over three-quarters of the emergency situation already- she’d die now?? She smirked to herself!

She thought she’d be too tired to swim this distance as she calculated- maybe 200 meters out! Maybe a quarter of a kilometer.. she didn’t know but she was far away from land!

She looked in the direction of the horizon. Far away she saw a big billowing wave coming. There were two smaller ones in front of it.

She calculated– if she waited until the big one came and passed her by still in the deep she can handle it being underwater for a time as it passed overhead, but will her strength hold her afloat until then? And what if there were bigger ones in the back of it? It was not a matter of just letting this big wave dissipate as it reached the beach, but it will take some time for its force of current to clear the beach making it safe for a landing..

She decided she was going for it- now!! Before the bigger one came. With the crest of the first smaller one coming by, she rode it until a few meters away from shore. She stopped and looked in the direction of the horizon again. She did not want a repeat of a big wave catching up to her while already on land. She’d really die then!!

She didn’t look back to see if there was another wave to envelop her. Soon as her feet grabbed ground she ran!

Safety. Finally.

She sat on one of the smaller rocks below the falls and took a heavy, deep breath– THAT WAS CLOSE TODAY!!!

🌹.. Thinking back to this experience a question she had no answer till the present, but would dearly love to get one: HOW LONG was she underwater in this situation?

*They said the brain longs and needs oxygen within two minutes..

“…the brain can withstand three to six minutes without oxygen before brain damage occurs.”

She laughed loudly when she read the last line- maybe that’s why she’s a little weird!! Hahaha!

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