Video of Instinctive Drowning Response

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By | 2017-05-18T15:29:50+00:00 July 28th, 2011|Boating Safety, Water Safety|83 Comments

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  • Judi Brown

    Hello MCL –
    I can relate to your childhood trauma. At five yrs. of age, I was at the beach with my aunt and uncle, waded into the ocean when a big wave knocked me under with the undertow. I had swallowed a lot of salty water and was desperately trashing around trying to get my feet under me to stand, but, couldn’t – the waves kept knocking me over. I was terrified and feeling hopeless, wondering if I was going to drown, when my uncle finally in the nick of time realized that I was in trouble and picked me up, turned me upside down to empty the water out of my lungs.. I didn’t get any empathy either. It was as though – Oh well! And, don’t be such a sissy or baby. Those words were as piercing toxic darts to my heart. My chest ached from swallowing so much ocean water. Then years later, I had to pass our high school graduation requirement swim test or go to swim classes to prepare for the test, my water anxiety was a problem due to fear and the trauma and it took a long time to pass the swim test.

  • Judi Brown

    This story is getting my dander up – making me MAD. I empathize with you! This world has some very mean people!! Those people, especially those nasty instructors ought to be sued for causing you emotional, mental abuse. I wish I sued the harassing savages who tormented me causing me neuroses.

  • Judi Brown

    Hi Gene –
    Unfortunately, traumas can tend to linger on to varying degrees.
    Talk-it-out therapy with a mature and empathetic counselor/ therapist for post traumatic stress disorder can help reduce the intensity of the traumas. Net-working for a good counselor/therapist I found to be the first obstacle, then the help in gaining perspective on one’s terrifying experience and reducing its impact. — Hopefully, it will.

  • mcl

    if I could sue, then i would be rich because the problem is that once you are the subject of bulying, you are a target for life–and my first pick for legal suit would be the arrogance and hypocrisy of religious organizations, not some macho swim teacher who has his head sewed on backwars and can’t see much but his butt.

  • mcl

    yup, but my experience wasnt in HS, but at college an as I was registered and paying for th course, I stayed in it until nearly deadline to withdraw because the bullying was unreal. Taunting somebody is not way of instruction-it is way of bullying and such teachers regardless of where they are in university or HS or elementary school ought to be immediately warned and then discharged with no pay. They are taking up the space of good teachers needing work–and the problem generally is or was, you can’t sue or file a complaint.

  • mcl

    that’s totally crazy… and a swim test for graduation? now that’s really a crazy requirement. you’re supposed to float through on your marks not on your back. man, US education has really gone down drain.

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  • Theresa Renee Foley

    I tried to learn to swim when younger,I almost drowned 3times I’m very lucky . One of the times a older kid threw me in the deep. Luckily I was close to side of pool so I climbed the side of the wall up.Other was in summer camp I was scared so the camp councillor threw me in ,I got out of that one to. But one day in summer camp we went to the beach in Chicago so lake Michigan. And like the story I was bobbing up and down all I know is when I came up I seen a million people around but I couldn’t say shit cause I was trying to breath plus figure which direction was shallow. Finally when I was 21 I taught myself to swim. But I could only last so long I know how to doggie paddle but I panic when it comes to floating. Let’s just say I won’t ever take a cruise. Oh when I was older I punched that guy in the eye who threw me in when I was 10. He still has a scar on his eyebrow. Lol but were friends now he was a kid to he understands why I hit him. But that’s to show you kids think there and there friends are invincible. So its important to teach people if someone says I can’t swim not to play. But kids aren’t thinking death they wanna play. So it sucks cause if I’d died that day his life would have been ruined also.We all just need to be good to one another. That’s my opinion. 🙂

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  • Robert Booth

    Bob Booth, Lifeguard on the New Jersey seashore many years ago and both sons were fortunate enough to serve in that position. When they first passed the tests, the rigorous training under very competent instructors and manned their stations, I gave them the advice I had received from my beach patrol captain.(A man who had served in both WWII and Korea as a Marine officer and later as the President of a college.) That information was ” If you think…. Go!” This simple means react at what may be an emergency. Don’t wait until you are proven right. This training and automatic response has save countless lives. Much thanks for an incredible well written and informative article

  • leftofabbie

    You have my sympathy for your experience, I’m so sorry that you ended up being terrified of water and not being able to learn to swim. I worked as a lifeguard at a military base pool in Oklahoma one summer, and taught swimming lessons. One of the parents carried his son to the edge of the pool ( the poor kid was there for lessons) and literally threw him into the water that was too deep for him. What was he thinking, that this would help him learn to swim? The little kid was terrified, and after that beginning, it was difficult to teach him to relax in the water and trust that it would hold him up. I was SO ANGRY at that parent! My husband grew up in Texas, and as a kid almost drowned in a tank – I thought a tank was one of those metal horse-watering contraptions used on ranches, but in actuality, a tank is just a depression gouged out of the ground that is filled with water, usually fed by a windmill, that is used to water livestock. The ground has a lot of clay in it, so the water does not quickly disappear into the soil, and the bottom is often really slippery as a result. He could’t regain his footing, and as a result is terrified of water. I couldn’t get him to relax in even 18 inches of water in a kiddie pool. Such a shame, as I really love being in the water and floating around, it’s one of life’s real pleasures.

  • leftofabbie

    People who are entrusted with a “teaching” position should never be allowed to mistreat or ridicule their students. Find something else to do, because you are a failure at helping non-swimmers learn to enjoy the water.

  • Sheila Wells Benoit

    as any adult who does not know how to swim and you will hear a story similar to yours. Very sad because swimming really is FUN.

  • Sheila Wells Benoit

    I’d bet half the people making fun of you have an irrational fear of spiders, snakes, wasps, etc.

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  • mamabear

    Thank you for the visual and explanation. I saved a girl one time. I was watching her and being experienced in the water I was surprised that she couldn’t swim to shore. She was being taken out in the current. I didn’t realize the struggle time was so short. I will be even more watchful now with this video. Thank you.


    I guess Its fair to reason that we all handle trauma differently. I had several near drawing instances but was grabbed in the nick of time each time. I grew up, took swim class and now snorkeling, diving and jumps are some of my favorites to do.